Tyler Bertuzzi will be back in the Detroit Red Wings’ lineup as the club returns to home ice for a game at Little Caesars Arena against the New York Islanders.
Bertuzzi was missing in action for five games after testing positive for COVID-19.
“Just stuffy and a little headache,” Bertuzzi said of his symptoms. “That was it. I’m still a little stuffy but I feel good.”
The only player in the NHL who hadn’t opted to get the COVID-19 vaccine, Bertuzzi didn’t encounter a change of heart after the virus infected his system.
“Naturally immunity now,” he boasted. However, it should be noted that reputable medical research institutes such as Johns Hopkins Medicine are refuting such claims from COVID-19 sufferers that having the virus grants them natural immunity.
It’s kind of like the Red Wings and defensive zone coverage on the road. The way they approach this facet of the game, it would be easy to think they had a natural immunity to it but they don’t, really.
Red Wings Different Team Without Bertuzzi
A fact that can’t be disputed is that the Red Wings are a different team with Bertuzzi in the lineup than they are when he doesn’t suit up. Detroit is 2-6 in eight games Bertuzzi has missed. When he plays, the Red Wings are 11-5-3.
Even the knowledge of how his absence is hurting his teammates’ chances of success isn’t moving Bertuzzi any closer to thinking that his getting the vaccination would be helpful to the club.
“Obviously it sucks missing games but it is what it is,” Bertuzzi said.
Tyler Bertuzzi back at practice! pic.twitter.com/SKI6BSx2Z7
— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) December 13, 2021
Bertuzzi saw the ice three times since his positive test. He was skating on his own Saturday and Sunday and practised with the club on Monday.
“Actually, through the 10 days I probably got three or four workouts in,” Bertuzzi said. “There were a few days when I was kind of stuffy and didn’t want to do any cardio. I pretty much walked every day with my dog to the park.
“I tried to stay as active as I possibly could. Like I said I skated Saturday, Sunday, today and morning skate tomorrow. Hopefully that gets me into the best that I can to try and come back and get back in shape.”
How Quickly Will Bertuzzi Bounce Back?
Bertuzzi isn’t the first Red Wings player to return to action following a bout with COVID-19. How quickly will he be able to get back up to speed? Detroit coach Jeff Blashill admits that he has no idea.
“I would say from what I observed the last couple years of guys coming back from this is it varies a little bit guy to guy, varies a little bit how hard they’ve been hit,” Blashill said. “Sometimes I think they’re back in your lineup you expect them to be right back where they were when they left and that’s unrealistic a lot of times.
“So I think we have to understand that it might take Bert some time to get back to playing at that full speed, 100 percent that he’s capable of and it might not. I just don’t know that answer yet. But we have to understand that could be the case.”
The other question to be answered is when will Bertuzzi get back to being the player he was at the start of the season. The left-winger was showing 9-6-15 totals 10 games into his season. In his last 10 games, he’s accounted for just three assists.
Normal Ebb And Flow
Is that a by-product of being in and out of the lineup due being unable to play in Canada because he’s not vaccinated? Blashill doesn’t think so.
“I would say normal ebb and flow of the season,” the Wings coach reasoned for Bertuzzi’s downturn in productivity. “Obviously, he wasn’t going to keep up the pace that he had early. Those are unrealistic numbers for the course of the season.
“I don’t have an issue with Bert’s game. I think Bert, when he left, was playing good hockey and hopefully he can get back up to speed as quick as possible.”
Among Detroit’s other walking wounded, defenseman Marc Staal remains in COVID-19 protocol. However, the club is anticipating the return Tuesday of defenseman Gustav Lindstrom (lower-body injury). He’s missed the past three games.
The Red Wings have gone 0-3-0 since beating the Islanders 4-3 in overtime at LCA on December 4.