After a stretch of rough play, the Detroit Red Wings Head Coach, Jeff Blashill, decided to make some major changes to the lineup. One such change was the head-scratching move to put Tyler Bertuzzi, one of the best offensive forwards on the team, on the second line – away from Dylan Larkin and Lucas Raymond.
But is the move actually working out?
Well, in a very short sample size, it seems to have done something. Detroit has won two straight after the move, beating the Sabres twice. In the first matchup, the Red Wings dominated a vast majority of the game, eventually winning 4-0. In the next clash, a third period surge from Detroit tied the game at 2-2, and Larkin scored the game winner.
Bertuzzi was good in both games, but he was especially effective in the blowout, netting a goal and two assists. The top line didn’t seem to miss a beat, as Larkin and Raymond both found the back of the net without Bert (Larkin scored twice, actually).
Bertuzzi’s new line mates seemed to fair well with such a talented winger; although they didn’t show up on the stat sheet, Pius Suter and Robby Fabbri (Fabbri actually did score, but it was with the power play unit) combined for a total of 19 shots on goal in the two games. For a unit that hasn’t been especially dangerous on the offensive end of the ice, the second line played extreme well in the opponent’s zone, applying consistent pressure.
However successful the experiment is, it is very unlikely that Bertuzzi will stick on the second. He’s too talented of a goal scorer to simply boost the second line. The gritty forward is at his best when he’s amidst the best talent of the team, lethal whenever he gets the puck on his stick. But for now, the shift seems to have breathed some life into a lineup that was playing stale hockey.