Detroit Red Wings’ Tyler Bertuzzi could play first preseason game Saturday

Detroit Free Press

Good news for the Detroit Red Wings: One of their key forwards could be back as soon as Saturday.

Tyler Bertuzzi missed all but the first day of the Traverse City part of training camp, sidelined by what head coach Derek Lalonde termed a “flare up.” Bertuzzi skated by himself earlier in the week, and was in good enough shape Thursday to take part in a full practice. The Wings continue their exhibition season Friday by hosting the Washington Capitals, and play at the Chicago Blackhawks Saturday.

“I still want to see how he responded from practice today, talk to our trainer,” Lalonde said. “I would expect to see him one of our next two games. My gut is probably we give him another day, and then we’ll decide on the road game.”

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Bertuzzi underwent back surgery in April 2021, missing all but nine games. He reached 30 goals in 68 games last season; he missed nine games because he didn’t get the COVID vaccine, but with Canada dropping vaccination requirements Friday, that won’t be an issue any longer.

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Bertuzzi has been a good fit on a line with Dylan Larkin and Lucas Raymond, but Lalonde indicated that Bertuzzi wouldn’t “necessarily be with Dylan and Raymond, but he’ll fit in with guys we foresee competing for top-six spots.”

Joe Veleno, also sidelined by an undisclosed injury since early in camp, could also return this weekend. Andrew Copp (abdominal surgery) isn’t expected to be available until the first week of the season, but he’s skating in a non-contact jersey. Oskar Sundqvist, who has missed all of camp with an undisclosed injury, is skating with the skills coach, an encouraging sign toward joining practices.

The Wings have four exhibition games on the slate next week: Monday vs the Penguins, Wednesday at Washington, and a home-and-home with the Maple Leafs Oct. 7-8. The Wings’ season opener is Oct. 14 at home against the Canadiens.

Contact Helene St. James at hstjames@freepress.com. Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames. Read more on the Detroit Red Wings and sign up for our Red Wings newsletter. Her latest book, On the Clock: Behind the Scenes with the Detroit Red Wings at the NHL Draft is available from  Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail.

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