Feisty forward Tyler Bertuzzi will play his first game of the preseason tonight when the Detroit Red Wings play a home game against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
“I’m nervous definitely, but I’m excited to get back into it,” Bertuzzi said. “I know it’s going to take a few games. And there’s going to be some frustrations.”
Bertuzzi only played nine games last season because of a back injury that required surgery. He hasn’t played since January 30. The Red Wings only have one more preseason game after this before starting the season Thursday against the Tampa Bay Lightning. He hoped to play earlier in training camp, but his body just wan’t ready
“I think I got a little bit sore over camp, after day three or four,” Bertuzzi said. “I just didn’t want to rush anything.”
Bertuzzi said the soreness was anticipated. “It’s nothing major,” he said.
Because Bertuzzi is a physical player, he wanted to make sure he didn’t start the season without being fully ready.
“It’s not my back, but it’s everything around (it),” he added.
Given that the season is close at hand, Coach Jeff Blashill said he wants to see Bertuzzi, “play this game in a serious matter and get himself going.”
Tyler Bertuzzi Will Play on a Line with Raymond
This is an important game for Raymond. Blashill hopes to have his roster set going into the weekend. Raymond, with six points, has a good chance to earn a spot on the roster.
Blashill said he will wait and see what happens tonight before making any decision about whether Bertuzzi will play one more preseason game before the opener.
“He just needs to do what he does and get himself back into it,” Blashill said.
Tyler Bertuzzi, 26, started strong last season with five goals in his first nine games before the injury sidelined him.
“There is a lot of pieces of your body that are connected to your back,” Blashill said. “There is a confidence level…that you have to get to and it doesn’t come easy.”
Bertuzzi became a controversial figure in training camp when it was announced he was one only a handful of NHL players who has refused to be vaccinated for COVID-19. Because Canada is not allowing non-vaccinated people across its border, Bertuzzi won’t be able to play Red Wings’ game in Canada. He is expected to miss a minimum of nine games and several practices unless Canada relaxes its border restrictions.