Both the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan and DetroitRedWings.com’s Josh Berenter focused on the “new faces” on the Red Wings roster who are contributing to the team’s 2-and-2 start over the course of Kulfan and Berenter’s respective notebook articles on Wednesday.
Kulfan duly noted that the Red Wings are feeling fairly satisfied with themselves after Tuesday’s 3-2 OT win over Columbus, and that’s in no small part due to the impact of their roster reinforcements…
“We are feeling good,” said forward Tyler Bertuzzi, who scored Tuesday’s winner, essentially banking in Dylan Larkin’s pass off a 2-on-1 rush. “We have a really good team this year and if we can play like that and keep doing the right things we’ll get rewarded with these one-goal wins.”
At least in the first 240 minutes and 15 seconds of hockey this season, general manager Steve Yzerman’s free-agent and trade acquisitions have been impactful on and off the ice. They’ve added an air of professionalism, and stability, that was much needed.
Forwards Bobby Ryan (four goals in three games), Vladislav Namestnikov and Mathias Brome; defensemen Marc Staal, Jon Merrill and Troy Stecher; and goalie Thomas Greiss have solidified the roster in various ways.
“The fresh faces have calmed our bench down a little bit,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “We don’t seem to be as excitable as we’ve been. Is that growth in some of our guys that have returned? Probably. Is it new, fresh faces and not necessarily wearing previous years’ losses or struggles? Probably. We just keep playing, and that’s the approach I like. To a man, nothing has bothered us so far. We’ve just kept playing.”
Kulfan continues, and Berenter discussed the topic from a similar perspective:
And while the back end has been re-tooled, the offense was also in need of increased depth, as the top line of Dylan Larkin, Anthony Mantha and Tyler Bertuzzi accounted for more than a third of the team’s points last season.
The addition of Ryan has definitely helped take the burden off the Wings’ top line, as Ryan became the first player in franchise history to score four goals in his first three games with the club. Namestnikov hasn’t cracked the score sheet yet, but he can play all three forward positions and provides much-needed versatility up front.
Mantha said Ryan and Namestnikov have been crucial additions to Detroit’s offensive attack.
“It’s huge,” Mantha said about the added depth. “If you look up front, Namestnikov and Bobby are two guys that like to control the puck, and I think that’s a little bit what we were lacking last year. Giving the puck away a little too easy, and if they can slow down the play and make good plays, we’ll play with the puck more often.”