Red Wings admit it’ll be ‘strange’ facing former teammate, Bruins’ Tyler Bertuzzi

Detroit News

Detroit — The first few shifts, sure, it’s going to be strange.

For many Red Wings who know Tyler Bertuzzi well, seeing him in a Boston Bruins uniform these next two days, as the Wings play Boston in back-to-back games, is going to unsettling.

“Strange,” defenseman Moritz Seider said of facing Bertuzzi as an opponent. “But it’s going to be cool. Probably a little emotional.”

The Wings dealt Bertuzzi to the Bruins before the trade deadline for a 2024 first-round pick (top-10 protected) and a 2025 fourth-round pick.

The trade shook many Wings, especially captain Dylan Larkin, who was a longtime teammate and close friend.

Larkin has briefly kept in touch with Bertuzzi, who has relayed how enjoyable it is playing for runaway NHL-leading Bruins.

“He’s going to do really well (in Boston),” Larkin said. “He’s going to go on a (playoff) run. I’m really happy for him in that sense.”

Bertuzzi was an extremely popular teammate, and a fan favorite, for similar reasons. Bertuzzi played with an edge, a reckless style in which he would protect teammates when necessary, but also evolved into a skillfull player over the years.

“He always found a way to weasel himself out of trouble,” Seider said. “This will be a good challenge for us. Not only shutting him down, but one of the best lines in the NHL right now.”

Bertuzzi kept the locker room loose, said Seider, and was in the middle of consistent laughter.

“He just cared about the guys in the locker room a lot,” Seider said. “We have a lot of awesome stories, a lot of things we experienced together. I only knew him for two or three years but we got real close, real tight, and it’s a cool relationship that developed here.

“Guys will just miss his laughs and jokes, like sometimes the laziness he put on a daily basis, just joking around, and just how much he wanted to be out there with the guys.

“He’s just a cool dude to be around.”

Bertuzzi can be one of the best agitators around, but the Wings don’t expect any aggravating chirping this weekend.

“He knows us way too well,” forward Joe Veleno said. “I’m sure with him, it’ll be friendly chirps and playing the game.”

Veleno expects a typical Bertuzzi game, in that Bertuzzi will make his presence felt.

“All over the forecheck all over the puck,” Veleno said. “He just works his butt off every single shift. He’s relentless and that’s what makes him so successful. His second effort to win battles and pucks is incredible. That’s probably the least thing I’m excited to play against.”

Czarnik replaces Fabbri

Forward Robby Fabbri (lower-body) will not be ready for the Bruins games, after getting hurt Wednesday, so the Wings recalled forward Austin Czarnik from Grand Rapids.

Coach Derek Lalonde remains optimistic Fabbri will return soon.

“Fabs won’t be available this weekend, but fairly optimistic we’ll see him again this year, hopefully not long-term,” Lalonde said.

Fabbri has had three ACL surgeries in his career and returned in January from the third one, which he suffered late last season. Fabbri appeared to hurt his knee during Wednesday’s game.

Fabbri has seven goals and nine assists (16 points) in 28 games this season.

“He helps us a ton when he’s in our top-six,” Lalonde said. “He gave the power play a huge spark. Is he where he was two years ago? Probably not, absolutely not. You can see he probably didn’t have his legs, which was understandable.

“Just get through this season and do what you can and hopefully have a very good summer. We ‘ll see his best hockey probably next season. He was good, he brings us to the fight and he plays with grit, but you could tell he wasn’t himself every night, which was certainly understandable.”

Czarnik had two goals and an assist in 12 games earlier this season.

“I go back to (Matt) Luff who played a lot of games early on, and Czarnik, our roster isn’t a whole lot different than where we were at the beginning of the year,” Lalonde said. “I trust Czarnik. He gave us good minutes early on. We’ll plug him in, slot him, and away we go.”

Ice chips

Lalonde will bump Pius Suter onto a wing on the top line with Dylan Larkin and Lucas Raymond.

Magnus Hellberg will start Saturday, while Ville Husso will come back Sunday and start against the Bruins.

“Every night he’s (Hellberg) given us a chance,” Lalonde said. “You can’t fault him the last couple of outings. He took a lead into the third period. He’s given us solid starts and you can’t ask more of him.”

Red Wings at Bruins

▶ Faceoff: 1 p.m. Saturday, TD Garden, Boston

▶ TV/radio: ABC-Channel 7/97.1 FM

▶ Outlook: The Bruins (49-9-5) saw their 10-game win streak end Thursday in a 3-2 loss against Edmonton. … The Bruins have the NHL’s best record and are on pace to set single-season wins and points records. … Boston is 26-3-3 at home. … RW David Pastrnak (45 goals, 41 assists) leads a huge offensive attack.

Twitter: @tkulfan

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