Montreal — While the Red Wings were taking part with their morning skate today at Bell Centre, forward Tyler Bertuzzi was back in Detroit skating on his own.
This wasn’t unexpected.
Bertuzzi has chosen to not be vaccinated against COVID-19, and for games in Canada isn’t allowed to cross the border.
So tonight’s game in Montreal was the first he was going to miss, with two more – in Toronto and Montreal – approaching on the next road trip beginning next weekend.
The Wings were preparing as if Bertuzzi was injured, ill, or whatever reason there could be for missing one singular game.
“In game 2 (against Vancouver) we were missing Larks (Dylan Larkin for a suspension),” said coach Jeff Blashill, using the Larkin example.
“You make your line adjustments and certainly Tyler is a big part of our team and of who we are. He’s a real good player, but the extent you miss Tyler depends how the guys who fill some of those responsibilities play.
“If they play great, then the loss is less then if they don’t play great. Certainly we’ll be excited to get Tyler back tomorrow (Sunday in Chicago) but tonight we’ll have 20 guys dressed good enough to win the hockey game and we have to go out and execute at a high level.”
Blashill elected to slide Robby Fabbri into Bertuzzi’s spot on a line with Larkin and Lucas Raymond, while Carter Rowney drew into the lineup.
“Fabbs, for me, has been outstanding from day one of training camp in terms of his competitiveness, he has a high compete level, he’s got skill and has some of the attributes that Bert brings to the table in terms of going to get pucks and ability to score,” Blashill said.
“We think it’s the most natural guy going to that line. He and Raymond have played together and played well, and Fabs centered that line when Larks was out.
“We think it gives us a good piece up there.”
Bertuzzi’s decision to not get the shots, said Blashill, doesn’t bring any hard feelings among teammates.
“Our guys love Tyler Bertuzzi, he’s a great teammate, and as a coaching staff I’ve loved coaching him,” Blashill said. “He’s somebody that comes to work every day. He has great character.
“Players were allowed to make a decision and that’s the decision he’s made and we’ll accept that and treat it as when a player is missing and a player could be missing for a multitude of reasons.
“For us, it’s not a big story. We’ll play a hockey game and try to win with the 20 (players) we have.”
Bertuzzi chose to skate both Friday and Saturday, said Blashill, but whether Bertuzzi has been technically suspended for Saturday by the Wings’ organization was something Blashill said “we’ll keep internally,” said Blashill.
Herbie the Love Bug
So how did defenseman Moritz Seider decide to wear No. 53, beginning with his first pro team in Mannheim, Germany?
It was after watching Herbie the Love Bug in the popular late 1960s movie – and remade as Herbie Fully Loaded – and seeing the popular VW with the No. 53 and blue and red racing stripes.
“I had a chance to play pro when I was 16 in Mannheim and they were asking me (what number Seider wanted to wear) and it caught me off guard,” Seider said. “I watched a movie the day before and it kind of stuck in my head.
“And that’s why I’m wearing 53.”
Seider, incidentally, met Wings’ legendary defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom last week when Lidstrom was in Detroit as part of the opening night celebration recognizing Larkin’s captaincy.
“It was a big honor and pleasure just meeting him,” Seider said. “We had good talks, and cool being around him. We had different things to talk about, it’s not all about hockey. It was just nice to get to know him a little bit.”
Forward Givani Smith has struggled in these opening regular season games with taking unfortunate penalties.
“A hooking penalty has zero value unless you are hooking somebody who is about to have a scoring chance, otherwise they have zero value,” Blashill said.
“It’s not like you’re bringing a level of compete or toughness on a hooking penalty. Those are, to me, a little bit different than a net-front battle.
“Givani is learning that balance. He has to be a guy who is out there playing hard and physical and bringing momentum, and getting under the skin of another player and not taking penalties. That’s a learned thing and I have confidence he’ll keep getting better at it.”
Red Wings at Blackhawks
► Faceoff: 7 p.m. Sunday, United Center, Chicago
► TV/radio: BSD/97.1
► Outlook: The Blackhawks are searching for their first victory after five games (0-4-1)…RW Patrick Kane has five points (four assists) in five games, but C Jonathan Toews has struggled (no points, minus-6 rating). G Marc-Andre Fleury hasn’t been sharp (5.63 GAA, .840 SVS).