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Bertuzzi not ready yet, but soon

Veteran expects to play in Thursday's home finale vs. Preds

Wednesday, 04.24.2013 / 12:50 PM ET / News
By Bill Roose  - Managing Editor | DetroitRedWings.com
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Bertuzzi not ready yet, but soon

Todd Bertuzzi
Right Wing - DET
GOALS: 2 | ASST: 1 | PTS: 3
SOG: 10 | +/-: 3
DETROIT – Coach Mike Babcock was ready to insert Todd Bertuzzi in the Red Wings’ lineup against the defending Stanley Cup champion Kings tonight.

But the veteran forward, who has sat out with a chronically sore lower back since Feb. 7, needed one more good practice, he said.

“I’ll be ready to play tomorrow,” Bertuzzi declared. “I needed another hard skate. Like I said before, a week ago, I can’t come in and not be ready to play a full 60 (minutes) and help out, contribute, be big down low, finish my checks. I needed another hard skate and that’s what we just finished.”

The Red Wings are in the thick of a playoff race, battling Columbus, Dallas and Phoenix for the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference. Everyone in the Wings’ locker room understands the situation, but they also know what a vocal veteran like Bertuzzi can bring to a young team.

“Bert has been a huge loss for us. I can name so many different reasons,” forward Daniel Cleary said. “First thing he's going to bring is another voice in the locker room for us. He brings experience and calmness on the bench and then you factor in his play and his size, and obviously, he hasn't played the whole season, so it's going to take some time, to be fair, but … and his shootout prowess. Hopefully, we don't get to that point, but you never know.”

Over the previous three seasons, Bertuzzi has added a new dimension to his game, becoming one of the league’s better skaters in the shootout. In that time he ranks second on the team by making 44 percent of his shootout chances, including a team-best seven game-deciding goals. Pavel Datsyuk is first at 48.3 percent.

But Betuzzi is more concerned with what he’s capable of doing during regulation, which is why he chose not to play tonight. He remained on the ice after the morning skate where he worked more with associate coach Tom Renney and the other guys who won’t play tonight.

“I really wanted to play today,” he said. “But I needed to skate hard with Tom there in the end. I needed to do one-on-one drills with the defenseman. I needed to get some pushing and shoving down low. I needed to get crosschecked in the back. I needed to be able to spin off and needed to be able to stop and start and take off with the puck. … The last thing I wanted to do was for them to take a fresh guy out and have me play one period because something didn’t go right.”

Bertuzzi will likely play Thursday’s regular-season home finale when the Red Wings host the Nashville Predators at Joe Louis Arena.

“It’s just getting up to speed. You haven’t been in and suddenly you want to get in,” Babcock said. “But as soon as he’s comfortable mentally and physically then we can try and get him in the lineup.”

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 248 187 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 214 184 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 259 206 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 237 199 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 245 224 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 231 211 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 232 208 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 217 204 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 209 201 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 198 213 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 227 248 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 212 223 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 176 209 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 183 219 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 206 257 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 153 269 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
H. Zetterberg 77 17 49 -6 66
P. Datsyuk 63 26 39 12 65
T. Tatar 82 29 27 6 56
G. Nyquist 82 27 27 -11 54
J. Abdelkader 71 23 21 3 44
N. Kronwall 80 9 35 -4 44
R. Sheahan 79 13 23 -3 36
D. Helm 75 15 18 7 33
D. DeKeyser 80 2 29 11 31
S. Weiss 52 9 16 -2 25
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Howard 23 13 11 .910 2.44
P. Mrazek 16 9 2 .918 2.38

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