Bertuzzi the good, Bertuzzi the…difficult

Both MLive’s Ansar Khan and the Free Press’s Helene St. James focused on Tyler Bertuzzi’s play in their Wednesday notebook articles, with MLive’s Ansar Khan noting that Bertuzzi appears to be fully recovered from last summer’s back surgery…

“He looks like he’s got great energy,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “He’s been on pucks. He’s always been kind of a junkyard dog in terms of how he plays, but he looks like he’s skating well, which is great. Over the years you have different guys that have had major back surgery and sometimes the damage is more significant than others and so you just don’t know.”

In only 12 games since the start of last season, Bertuzzi has 10 goals and 13 points.

“Obviously very happy,” Bertuzzi said. “Great start for the team, showing confidence and scoring goals. After missing almost a full year last year, it feels good to be back out there. We’re playing really well now.”

The Red Wings hoped Dylan Larkin would benefit from being reunited with Bertuzzi and it looks like he has, with three points (goal, two assists) in two games.

“Dyl’s our engine,” Bertuzzi said. “He brings speed and energy and leadership. It showed last night (in a 4-1 victory over Columbus). It’s going to keep showing through the rest of the season. Guys rely on him and he’s a big part of this team.”

Khan continues; and the Free Press’s Helene St. James notes that Bertuzzi will be absent from Saturday’s game in Montreal, and will miss 8 more Canadian games, due to his vaccination status:

The line will have to undergo a change Saturday when the Wings head to Montreal for their first road game of the season. Bertuzzi has refused to get the COVID-19 vaccine, and, under current border regulations, cannot travel to Canada. He plans to join the team for their Sunday contest in Chicago.

“I’ll be watching and cheering on the guys from home,” Bertuzzi said. “I’ll be back with them on Sunday.”

The NHL and the NHL Players Association agreed there would not be a mandate that players must be vaccinated, but teams can suspend players without pay when they are unable to participate in team hockey activities. The Wings enter Thursday’s game with 13 forwards and 8 defensemen, so they have enough bodies. But there’s no one else on the roster who blends grit and goal scoring like Bertuzzi does. The Wings play in Canada again at the end of the month; they also have a weeklong trip to Western Canada in March. The Wings missed him sorely last season, when he only played nine games.

“Bert is a winning hockey player,” Blashill said. “When he first came to play for me, it was in Grand Rapids in the playoffs. As a guy coming from juniors, he stepped right in. As I remember, actually he was sick the first two games and we went down 0-2, and then went up 3-2 in the series, against Toronto. He’s a good player. He’s somebody that I think is the type of player you want on your team and he does a lot of things well. He’s a good defensive player, he goes to the net hard, he wins puck battles and he’s got skill.”

At this point there’s nothing the Red Wings can do but hope that someone else will step up when Bertuzzi’s not there.

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George Malik

My name is George Malik, and I'm the Malik Report's editor/blogger/poster. I have been blogging about the Red Wings since 2006, when MLive hired me to work their SlapShots blog, and I joined Kukla's Korner in 2011 as The Malik Report. I'm starting The Malik Report as a stand-alone site, hoping that having my readers fund the website is indeed the way to go to build a better community and create better content.