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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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EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 53 40 9 4 175 120 84
2 FLA 55 32 17 6 153 127 70
3 NYR 55 31 18 6 157 140 68
4 DET 55 28 18 9 138 134 65
5 NYI 53 29 18 6 150 131 64
6 TBL 54 30 20 4 144 130 64
7 BOS 54 29 19 6 159 148 64
8 PIT 54 28 19 7 139 136 63
9 NJD 55 27 21 7 122 123 61
10 CAR 55 24 21 10 131 143 58
11 MTL 56 27 25 4 151 151 58
12 PHI 53 24 20 9 127 138 57
13 OTT 56 25 25 6 157 173 56
14 BUF 56 22 28 6 131 155 50
15 CBJ 56 22 28 6 140 173 50
16 TOR 53 19 25 9 122 149 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
D. Larkin 54 18 20 25 38
H. Zetterberg 55 10 28 5 38
T. Tatar 54 16 17 -1 33
G. Nyquist 55 14 16 -1 30
P. Datsyuk 40 9 21 14 30
J. Abdelkader 55 14 15 -2 29
M. Green 47 4 17 -7 21
N. Kronwall 45 3 14 -10 17
B. Richards 41 5 11 6 16
D. DeKeyser 51 7 8 12 15
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Mrazek 21 10 5 .933 1.94
J. Howard 7 8 4 .904 2.89