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Bertuzzi Back Tuesday: Can He Spark Red Wings’ Offense?



Tyler Bertuzzi, Red Wings
Tyler Bertuzzi will play Tuesday night against the Winnipeg Jets. It's his first game action since Nov. 30

The Lucas Raymond-Dylan Larkin-Tyler Bertuzzi line will be back in business for Tuesday night’s Detroit Red Wings’ home game against the Winnipeg Jets.

“Bertuzzi will be in tomorrow,” Detroit Red Wings coach Derek Lalonde said. “Obviously, the move of sending Elmer (Soderblom) down freed that up. (Filip) Zadina and (Robert) Hagg are a little further away. They’ve had some ups and downs. I wouldn’t say as far as setbacks, which is typical of a lower body.”

Bertuzzi has been limited to nine games this season by two separate hand injuries. He was suffering his first injury while blocking a New Jersey Devils’ shot in the second game of the season. He ended up missing a month. Then after playing seven games, and then was hurt again after being hit by teammate Ben Chiarot’s shot. The game against Winnipeg will be his first competition since Nov. 30.

The Jets come to town in the midst of a five-game winning streak.

The Red Wings have only scored four goals during their current three-game losing skid. Lalonde may be looking for a spark by reuniting Red Wings’ best line of last season.

“It’s a line that’s had some success,” Lalonde said. “Unfortunately, Bert’s been out most of the year. We haven’t had too many looks at that line together. We’ll give them an opportunity tomorrow and see how it does.”

Tough Cut

Demoting the 6-foot-8, 246-pounds Soderblom to create a roster opening wasn’t easy for Lalonde. He said last week he wanted to keep the younger players.

“He has done some great things. Some ups and downs in his play,” Lalonde said. “Was probably on an up of late, he’s created some offense for us, especially in that stretch where we had three of four wins, we scored 7, 4 and 5. Obviously, the last three games, 1, 2, 1, which is not a recipe for success.”

Soderblom is only 21 and more time in the AHL could be beneficial.

“He’s created some of that offense,” Lalonde said. “At the same time, we didn’t have him on either specialty teams. The other night, we played a really good 30 minutes, we’re chasing in the third, turned into a lot of special teams. He only got 8½ minutes, so he’ll go down and grow his game and I think there’s going to be a bright future for Elmer.”

Lalonde plans to keep track of Bertuzzi’s minutes, especially early on, against the Jets.

“You have to,” Lalonde said. “We’ll give him some opportunities. He’s playing with Dylan and Raymond, he’s going to be net front on that first unit.”

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According to Lalonde, Bertuzzi just needs to find his rhythm. He’s had overflowing energy at practice.

“He’s looked great in 3, 4, 5 practices,” Lalonde said, “and hopefully it translates into tomorrow’s game.”

Zadina was wearing the blue jersey in practice, designating that he isn’t supposed to have any contract. “Probably, still week to week with him,” Lalonde said.