The Detroit Red Wings rallied to beat the Chicago Blackhawks 4-3 in a shootout Wednesday night. Several things stood out but boy, one guy in particular really stood out. So we’ll start with the most obvious observation: Bobby Ryan deserves a contract.
Suffice it to say, Ryan came, saw, and conquered in Chicago and possibly earned himself the contract he wasn’t offered in the offseason. A goal, an assist, and the winning shootout goal was more than enough. But while on the ice, Ryan’s presence was notable. Setting up plays, maintaining possession during the Wings sole power play chance, and driving the offense.
Red Wings Twitter couldn’t have been happier, and that includes your humble author.
Here are seven other things noted in the game:
2: Donovan Sebrango didn’t look nervous or out of place. In fact, he looked calming and made a phenomenal diving play to break up a high danger scoring chance in the third period. He threaded a couple great passes and was responsible in his own end. What a great start for the kid. Alex wrote about him a while back when he was able to see him live and came away very impressed. Tonight only supported that.
3: Calvin Pickard was unbelievable in the third period and overtime, keeping Detroit in the game and allowing them the chance to come back. In overtime alone, he made three eye popping saves, one that absolutely should have been a goal. A quick kick save and the chance was snuffed out. Pickard might be third on the depth chart, but he’s certainly showing again that he’s a great option to have between the pipes.
4: Michael Rasmussen scored the opening goal and looked rejuvenated on the power play, playing with confidence, and even tried to take the puck himself to the net during the overtime. Though it didn’t take, it was good to see that swagger to try it. When Rasmussen came up, he was pushed around often, and couldn’t plant that 6-6 frame in front of the net like he could in juniors.
We’re seeing the 2017 ninth overall pick grow up quite a bit. I picked him to breakout this season and though it’s just one game and an exhibition one at that, Rasmussen held his own.
5: Adam Erne was with Rasmussen and Ryan, adding the final spark to a line that had their way with Chicago when they were on the ice. Erne led the Wings in scoring last season and while he netted a shootout goal on a pretty move, it was his passing that really impressed. Erne outmuscled a defenseman, turned and then backhanded the pass to a streaking Rasmussen who buried it.
On the tying goal, he went net front, fought for the puck and poked it to a waiting Ryan who hammered it home. Don’t look now but if the Red Wings do in fact ink Ryan to a deal, this could be a very solid third or fourth line.
6: Mitchell Stephens put on the afterburners and scored his first goal of the preseason only second after Chicago took a 3-1 lead. The jump reminds of vintage Darren Helm, but it’s been nice to see Stephens finish. Stephens also held the puck quite a bit, finding ways to create chances with his speed.
7: Last season in overtime, the Red Wings often felt overmatched and slow. This was different. During the middle stretch of the overtime, Detroit had Chicago on the ropes, with two Hawks on the ice for nearly two consecutive minutes. Detroit used its speed and kept utilizing chances, wearing down an opponent. Yes, temper expectations since it’s only preseason, but the big guns out there, it was great to see the depth have its moment to shine.
Finally, Taro Hirose needs to shoot the puck more. He had a dandy of a chance in overtime but opted to go full Valtteri Filppula and try to pass instead. Hirose showed his slick hands in the shootout when he buried a beauty to keep Detroit alive.
Hirose should be given a long look and the opportunity to play with the regulars when the time arrives later in the preseason. I still think there’s some value there offensively. With what appears to be a more active power play that will rely on quick passes, Hirose checks that box
The Red Wings take on Buffalo tonight. Here’s hoping Moritz Seider and Lucas Raymond are on the ice.