Red Wings forward Tyler Bertuzzi talks about returning to practice after battling concussion symptoms. Ted Kulfan, The Detroit News
Nashville — Tyler Bertuzzi has been back the last few days what he enjoys most — being on the ice and playing hockey.
And for a rink rat like Bertuzzi, that meant quite a bit.
Bertuzzi has been taking it easy because of concussion symptoms stemming from a hit along the boards Jan. 22 in Edmonton.
It was the last game before the nine-day All-Star and bye break, which in a way, was fortunate for Bertuzzi.
“The break definitely helped,” said Bertuzzi after Tuesday’s morning skate. “There’s no good time for an injury but it was good timing.”
Bertuzzi spent a week in Mexico for his father’s 50th birthday and a bunch of family.
“The weather wasn’t great but it was fun being with my family,” said Bertuzzi, noting it rained all but two days and was extremely windy.
Bertuzzi will see a doctor Wednesday in hopes of being cleared, and could be in the lineup the Thursday when the Wings host Ottawa.
“I’m feeling better,” Bertuzzi said. “It feels good to be able to get back and skate with the guys. I’ll see the doctor (Wednesday) and we’ll go from there.”
Bertuzzi was “stunned” after the hit in the Edmonton and knew the symptoms right away.
Bertuzzi said he’s been out two times before because of concussion symptoms and understands the protocol involved.
“I knew something was up (in Edmonton) and I didn’t go back in and risk it (being worse),” Bertuzzi siad. “I’ve been taking my time and making sure I’m 100 percent.
“I know the steps and what to look for. I’m feeling a lot better. I’m going to keep skating with the guys and get back in shape and maybe (return) Thursday night.”
Bertuzzi had the symptoms associated with taking a jarring hit.
“Foggy, kind of not feeling right, a little bit blurry vision. My neck was sore,” Bertuzzi said. “It was a mix of things.
“I just wasn’t feeling well. I went through it before and I know the feelings. There’s no point risking it.”
Returning to hockey activity, after not doing much of anything for about two weeks, isn’t easy.
“It’s like the first workout after you take two or three weeks off in the summer,” Bertuzzi said. “It’s going to take a couple of skates and practices to get back into the swing of things.”
The Wings were expected to get defenseman Trevor Daley back in the lineup against Nashville.
Dennis Cholowski was slated to be the healthy scratch, as Daley returned to the lineup for the first time since December 29.
Two days later, Daley broke a foot blocking a shot during practice.
Coach Jeff Blashill felt getting Daley back into the lineup strengthened the Wings in a variety of ways, but one area stood out.
“He’s a guy who can play the right side on the penalty kill, and that’s an important thing right now,” said Blashill, noting Nick Jensen is currently the only natural right-side penalty killer and this will allow Niklas Kronwall and Jonathan Ericsson to return to their natural, comfortable side.
Daley’s presence and poise will be an important addition.
“He’s a good defenseman, he’s been in a lot of situations, obviously he’s won Stanley Cups (in Pittsburgh), and he knows how to play,” Blashill said. “Just a good veteran presence.”
Nashville reached the Stanley Cup Finals two years ago, losing to Pittsburgh, and lost a Game 7 in the second round last season to Winnipeg.
Most analysts feel the Predators will be a significant threat again this spring, and Blashill agrees.
“Part of the season they’ve had continued, consistent success is their depth,” Blashill said. “It starts in net and their defense is certainly as deep as anybody’s in the league. They present a challenge. When they’re healthy up front, and they’re getting to be that, they have real good depth there, too.
“They’re a real good team. That’s why they’re one of the contenders to compete for the Stanley Cup out of the West.”