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Tyler Bertuzzi Might Put a Charge in Red Wings’ Offense

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Tyler Bertuzzi returns to the Detroit Red Wings' lineup after more than four weeks on the injured list.

Twenty NHL teams are averaging three or more goals per game and the Detroit Red Wings are not in that group. It hasn’t helped Detroit’s offense that three of the team’s projected top six forwards, Tyler Bertuzzi, Robby Fabbri and Jakub Vrana, have played a total of four NHL games.

But the offense will get a boost tonight when Bertuzzi returns to the lineup against the Anaheim Ducks. Bertuzzi has missed more than four weeks with a broken hand.

The Red Wings scored three or more goals in each of their first five games this season. Since then, they have scored two or fewer goals in regulation in six of their last 10 games. Even though the Red Wings’ emphasis this season has been about improved defensive play, there’s concern over the impact the injuries are having on the offense.

“We’re getting tested probably a little more than we want this early,” Lalonde said about the injuries. “…I don’t care who you are, if you have three of your top six, arguably two of your top three out, it’s gonna challenge your depth.”

The Red Wings have scored seven goals over the last three games and lost all three of those games. Bertuzzi scored 30 goals last season for the first time. In Monday’s practice, he was back with Dylan Larkin and Lucas Raymond. That line was highly productive last season.

“(Bertuzzi) is a finisher, goals,” Lalonde said. “That line can win the zone battle. We’ve had some good offensive shifts.”

Facing Non-Playoff Teams

The Red Wings, in theory, should get plenty of scoring chances over this road trip. The Ducks, sitting 32nd out of 32 teams in the NHL standings, are giving up an NHL-worst average of 4.47 goals per game. Thursday’s opponent, the San Jose Sharks, are yielding 3.35 goals per game. The Red Wings finish the road trip Saturday against the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Blue Jackets’ GAA is an ugly 4.36 goals per game.

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With Bertuzzi coming back, Detroit lines will be shuffled. In Monday’s practice, David Perron was on the line with Joe Veleno and Jonatan Berggren. The Red Wings undoubtedly are going to give Berggren a good look. He has proven himself at the American Hockey League level. As Lalonde might say, Berggren has some “pop” to his game.

The Red Wings are now about six weeks from Fabbri returning to the lineup. His rehabilitation from knee surgery is on schedule.