General manager Steve Yzerman made numerous free agent signings this offseason to improve the Detroit Red Wings’ depth.
Those upgrades began to produce dividends in the team’s second game, as Detroit secured a 4-2 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday. The Red Wings will be back in action on Monday when they host the Columbus Blue Jackets in a matinee.
One of the players Yzerman signed, veteran forward Bobby Ryan, scored the team’s first goal of the season in the second period Saturday.
The group of defensemen coach Jeff Blashill utilized included two players who signed as free agents and another acquired in a trade.
“We were deeper as a team,” Blashill said. “We had four lines going pretty hard. Not everybody gets as much ice time as they’d like, but all four lines were going and all six defensemen went well. Ultimately, we’ll have to win that way.”
Ryan teamed up with Filip Zadina and Robby Fabbri on the team’s second line. He missed the team’s opener, a 3-0 loss Thursday to the Hurricanes, with an undisclosed injury.
“You can tell he was fired up to put that jersey on (Saturday) and we need guys like that,” first-line center Dylan Larkin said. “He wanted to come here, he wanted to be on our team and help us become a better team and he’s certainly doing that. It’s huge having him in the lineup and I couldn’t be happier for him getting one (Saturday).”
Zadina showed his playmaking skills by setting up both of his linemates. Fabbri scored the go-ahead goal with less than three minutes remaining.
The sixth overall pick of the draft in 2018, the 21-year-old Zadina could be poised for a breakout season.
“It’s just a pleasure for me to play with them,” Zadina said of Ryan and Fabbri. “It takes time to make some chemistry, but we kind of know where we’re at (on the ice) and we just have to keep it going.”
The Blue Jackets swept the three-game series with the Wings last season. Columbus is seeking its first victory this season after losing on the road to Nashville 3-1 on Thursday and 5-2 on Saturday.
The latter game was tied 1-1 entering the final period. Columbus had 44 shots on goals but was stymied by Predators goaltender Juuse Saros.
“I’m looking at some of the encouraging stuff we did (Saturday),” head coach John Tortorella said. “We developed 25 scoring chances. Do we need to clean up some stuff? Sure, but I’m encouraged by a lot of different things with our hockey club.”
Forward Cam Atkinson echoed those sentiments, even though the Blue Jackets allowed three goals in the last 10 minutes.
“I thought we played overall a really, really good game compared to the first game. We got our feet wet,” he said. “The first game wasn’t our prettiest, but we did a lot of good things that we discussed after that game and we showed it. We’re going to watch a lot of tape, but we did a lot of good things. We just have to clean up the little things that cost us goals.”
Alexandre Texier and Michael Del Zotto are the only players with more than one point after two games.
–Field Level Media