Wings return Tyler Bertuzzi to Grand Rapids

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
Left wing Tyler Bertuzzi

Detroit – Tyler Bertuzzi is headed back to Grand Rapids.

The Red Wings sent Bertuzzi back to the minor leagues Tuesday after a brief stay in the NHL last week.

Bertuzzi averaged 9 minutes 57 seconds of ice time, with no points and a minus-1 rating, and was credited with five hits.

The Red Wings want to make sure Bertuzzi’s development isn’t stalled, and going to Grand Rapids will ensure he’ll get plenty more ice time than he was receiving in the NHL.

With Thomas Vanek coming off the injured list this weekend, Anthony Mantha already up Grand Rapids, and the Red Wings wanting to get Drew Miller (a healthy scratch the last three games) back in the lineup, there wasn’t much room for Bertuzzi on the roster.

Now, coach Jeff Blashill wants to see Bertuzzi take this experience and succeed further in Grand Rapids.

“He came in and had a great call up,” Blashill said. “He was in three games and got better as a hockey player in those three games. It gives him a chance to look at it and (say), 'what do I need to do so when I come back up (to the NHL if) I’m going to stay.' It also gives him a chance to go down and take the confidence from playing real good here and take the next step as a player in that league and follow a path similar to the OHL (Ontario Hockey League) where he was a good player, then a great player.

“He’s been a good player in the American League. Now go down and be a great player.”

Bertuzzi, 21, had four points (two goals) in nine games in Grand Rapids with a plus-3 rating.

Sproul back in

Ryan Sproul was back in the lineup Tuesday, replacing Niklas Kronwall who was given the game off to rest his knee.

Sproul hadn’t played since Oct. 29 against Boston, capping a stretch of five games played where Sproul had two assists while averaging over 15 minutes of ice time.

Sproul watched and studied the Red Wings’ veteran defensemen while out of the lineup.

“Watch certain guys each night, one night you watch Kroner (Kronwall) and another night a guy like E (Jonathan Ericsson), just see what they do and how they handle themselves,” Sproul said. “Just watch the little things and what they do.”

Being in and out of the lineup is something Sproul is adjusting to, after playing every game in Grand Rapids and in junior hockey.

“I haven’t done that in a long time,” said Sproul of the lineup shuffle. “It is real tough, but you have to make sure when you do get in, you play your best.

“I want to make sure I can stick in the lineup. It could be a short leash here, but make sure I play a good game and make it hard for t hem to take me out.”

Schedule quirk

Tampa was the third team the Red Wings have faced in recent weeks who came into Joe Louis Arena on the back end of back-to-back games.

Is there any sort of advantage in that situation?

“Play great from the drop of the puck,” Blashill said. “That’s all you can control. I have no idea when they got in, what their rest was, I have no idea.

“But I what I know is we can control our play and if we play great and we’re relentless for 60 minutes, it gives ourselves the best chance to win.

“The NHL schedule is such that this goes both ways. Sometimes you’re rested and sometimes they’re rested. We don’t use it as an excuse and they won’t use it as an excuse.”

Ice chips

With play-by-play man Ken Kal remaining ill, Grand Rapids Griffins’ announcer Bob Kaser filled  in for a third consecutive game.

…It was Military Appreciation Night Tuesday, with many military personnel meeting Red Wings players after the morning skate.

... Sproul earned his first NHL goal and first multi-point game Tuesday while playing a career-high 19:08.

… Mantha recorded his first point of the season in his second game this season. Both of Mantha’s career NHL assists have come against Tampa Bay — while both of his career goals have come against Montreal.

…The Red Wings ended a three-game power-play drought by scoring two third period power play goals.