| The Detroit News
Detroit — The Red Wings were without forwards Robby Fabbri and Adam Erne for Monday’s game at Little Caesars Arena. Both were placed on the COVID-19 protocol list.
Michael Rasmussen and Frans Nielsen entered the lineup against Columbus in their place, with Rasmussen earning an assist on one of Bobby Ryan’s two goals, although it wasn’t enough in a 3-2 Columbus victory.
Rasmussen replaced Fabbri between Ryan and Filip Zadina. Nielsen took Erne’s spot on the fourth line, with Luke Glendening and Mathias Brome.
Coach Jeff Blashill found out Fabbri and Erne would be unavailable early Monday morning. Nielsen and Rasmussen were natural selections, said Blashill, to join the lineup in this type of scenario.
Rasmussen had played center through training camp, while Vladislav Namestnikov, who can play center, hadn’t played much of it yet this camp, or young season.
“We kind of had, in our minds, the what-ifs when you go through this,” Blashill said. “Raz had a real good scrimmage, then it was a decision of who to put in at center and where to put everyone on the lines.”
The question now is how long the Wings will be without Fabbri and Erne.
According to the NHL, COVID protocol-related absences can be the result of a number of factors, including an initial positive test which remains unconfirmed until testing is completed; mandated isolation for symptomatic individuals; isolation based on a confirmed positive test result and/or quarantine for travel or other reasons, or required quarantine as a high-risk close contact.
Forward Darren Helm has just returned to practice after missing almost three weeks, having been on the COVID list after completing the first day of training camp. Defenseman Christian Djoos, who the Wings plucked off waivers from Anaheim, has also been on the list but likely was quarantining because of travel.
Ryan has made an immediate impact in his first two games as Red Wing, scoring three goals, two in Monday’s loss.
“It means a lot,” said Ryan of the good start to the season. “The jersey and historic thing aside, for me personally, this was a prove-it year and opportunity for me to kind of take the step I should have taken years ago and haven’t been able to because of the outside stuff.
“To make an impact is great.”
The Wings signed Ryan on the first day of free agency in October, worth $1 million.
Ottawa bought out Ryan with two years left on his contract — owing him $15 million — making Ryan an unrestricted free agent.
Ryan won the Masterton Trophy last season, the NHL’s award for perseverance and dedication, after publicly sharing his problematic use of alcohol. He entered the NHL/NHLPA players assistance program on Nov. 20 to get help with his addiction.
“I can’t say enough good things about him,” forward Dylan Larkin said. “His coming to play for our team, that’s huge. His understanding of the game, he’s such a smart hockey player.
“He’s been our best player the last two games.”
Blashill has felt good about where Ryan has been mentally and physically since the start of camp, and the results have been positive on the ice.
“He helps all of our young players,” Blashill said. “Bobby is a guy our guys respect. Bobby is taking care of his own game and he’s skating at a real good level. He’s in good shape and he feels good with where’s he’s at.”
Defenseman Alex Biega cleared waivers Monday and is expected to remain on the taxi squad, meaning he’ll be practice and travel with the team.
… The Wings paid tribute Monday to Detroit native Marlowe Stoudamire, who was a key figure in the growth of hockey at the grassroots level in the city, enabling more than 30,000 children to play the game. Stoudamire died from complications of COVID-19 in March.
… Columbus extended its winning streak over Detroit to five games, in addition to picking up a seventh straight win in Detroit.
… Rasmussen’s assist was his first NHL point since March 19, 2019 at the NY Rangers.
… Detroit recorded 37 shots on goal, bettering the total from its first two games combined (35 shots).
Blue Jackets at Red Wings
Faceoff: 7:30 Tuesday, Little Caesars Arena, Detroit
Outlook: The two teams completed the two-game in two days back-to-back series. …The Blue Jackets have won the last seven games in Detroit between the teams.