NHL

Bertuzzi back in Wings lineup after 3 months

05/02 1:24 PM

Red Wings forward Todd Bertuzzi, who hasn't played since Feb. 7, is back in the Detroit lineup for Thursday's Game 2 against the Ducks, according to coach Mike Babcock.

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Red Wings forward Todd Bertuzzi, who hasn't played since Feb. 7, is back in the Detroit lineup for Thursday's Game 2 against the Ducks, according to coach Mike Babcock.

A bad back has limited Bertuzzi to just seven games this season, and Babcock said he'll play on Detroit's fourth line with Cory Emmerton and Patrick Eaves, replacing Jordin Tootoo in the lineup.

"When he plays well, he's a big man with good hands. We need him to take care of the puck and be on the forecheck and grind down low is what we need him to do," Babcock said following Detroit's morning skate. "He hasn't played all year. It's going to be a tough thing for him, no question about it. He's got to help us."

Bertuzzi was ready to go at the end of the regular season, but Detroit's strong play without him in the final couple of games meant he had to wait to return to the lineup. The Red Wings lost to the Ducks 3-1 on Tuesday, giving Anaheim a 1-0 series lead.

Along with adjusting to the speed of the playoffs after an extended absence, Bertuzzi will also be playing with new linemates. When they take the ice Thursday night, it will be the first time Emmerton has skated with Bertuzzi in a real game.

"Three-on-three maybe, I don't think he passed me the puck ever," Emmerton joked on Thursday morning. "He's obviously been a great player for a long time. The biggest thing for him is he's such an imposing presence on the ice, it makes it difficult for the other team's D and he plays hard. He'll definitely help, he'll be a different look for us."

Veteran forward Mikael Samuelsson will take warm-ups before Game 2 but, barring an unexpected injury to a teammate before the game, won't play.

Various injuries have limited him to four games this season, but he's ready to go if called upon.

"I'm ready now," he said. "It's a little frustrating but at the same time, I get it. The team is playing good, played good to get us in the playoffs."


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