No Dylan Larkin and Tyler Bertuzzi, but Red Wings confident these days because of depth

Detroit News

Montreal — If the Red Wings were to miss forwards Dylan Larkin and Tyler Bertuzzi the past few seasons, it would be a devastating blow to the lineup.

And it does hurt, with coach Jeff Blashill confirming after Tuesday’s morning skate that Larkin would be unavailable for “personal reasons” and Bertuzzi being unavailable in Canada because of his unvaccinated status.

But unlike past seasons, the Wings are better prepared for situations where key offensive players are out of the lineup.

“We have improved our depth,” Blashill said. “We’ve worked hard as a coaching staff to make sure we’re getting ice time to other lines and the other lines have responded. Other people have responded with good play. We’ve moved a number of young players into our lineup and they’re growing with the added responsibility.”

Blashill wouldn’t speculate as to how long Larkin would be out, but he looks upon it as a day-to-day situation.

“I’m not going to expand further than that,” Blashill said. “He’ll just miss tonight’s game for personal reasons and that’s it.”

More: Red Wings continuing to push Moritz Seider during hot start

Bertuzzi is expected to rejoin the Wings Wednesday in Boston and be available to play Thursday against the Bruins.

But with scoring depth from the likes of Lucas Raymond, Robby Fabbri and Filip Zadina, among others, there isn’t the blatant concern there would be in previous seasons.

“Depth matters a ton and part of that depth might be Joe Veleno coming in and can he have a real good game for us?” Blashill said. “Carter Rowney is a guy who has played well the last little bit after being a healthy scratch. Can Givani Smith chip in offensively, something we know he’s capable of doing.

“Certainly depth matters.”

Blashill moved Michael Rasmussen onto the first line between Raymond and Fabbri.

“First of all, he’s played good hockey. He gives that line size and strength and they can use some of that beef,” Blashill said. “I can move Joe Veleno to center (third line) and it kind of evens out the lines that way.

“We want to be a hockey team that’s not about one or two guys, and certainly those are huge pieces (Bertuzzi and Larkin) but we think that we’re going to dress 20 (players) good enough to win and we have to go out and execute and compete.”

The Wings were also expected to have forward Adam Erne return to the lineup Tuesday after missing Saturday’s game in Toronto with an undisclosed injury. Erne likely hurt himself blocking several late shots Friday against Florida.

Twitter: @tkulfan

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