As season shrinks, Red Wings continue to wait, hope on Tyler Bertuzzi's return to health

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Detroit — The schedule says it’ll be seven weeks since Tyler Bertuzzi last played in a hockey game.

And with only seven weeks left in this shortened NHL season, you really begin to wonder if the Red Wings have seen the last of Bertuzzi.

Red Wings forward Tyler Bertuzzi hasn't played since Jan. 30.

Bertuzzi played just under 16 minutes on Jan. 30 against Florida, and hasn’t been back in uniform since.

The Wings are listing Bertuzzi as having an upper-body injury.

During a Zoom call with media after Thursday’s morning skate, coach Jeff Blashill didn’t rule out Bertuzzi missing the rest of the season.

Or, for that matter, surgery.

 “We’ve got great medical people," he said. "They look at everything and make the decision on a day-to-day basis on what’s best for the player. They’ll continue to do that.

“He’s not skating right now, and it’s gone back and forth between skating and not skating. Right now, he’s not skating, so that certainly doesn’t make him close at all (to returning).

“He’s obviously not been practicing. The first step is to skate over a longer period of time than what he’s done. He’s kind of gone in spurts of two or three days and then has kind of come off it.

“He’s a ways out (from playing).”

The organization has stated it’s not a concussion issue with Bertuzzi, and any sort of arm or shoulder injury wouldn’t likely hamper his skating.

Whatever the issue, the Wings are thinking about Bertuzzi’s long-term health.

“Everything is on the table,” Blashill said. “We’re only going to do what is best for Tyler in the long term.

“There’s a lot that goes into injuries. If you’re going to risk further injury, that’s one thing we always look at — if there’s significant risk to further injury be coming back, we’ll never put a player back in the game.

“We’ll never put a player in position where it’s going to risk more injury.”

Blashill has been in contact with Bertuzzi, and said the current situation “sucks."

“But you have to work through it,” Blashill said. “I don’t know anybody who is injured who enjoys it. It’s a crappy spot to be in, but it is what it is.

“Tyler is a big piece of our team. He’s in the prime of his career right now and it’s really unfortunate. I feel bad for Tyler. I feel bad for our hockey team. We’re a better team with him. (But) we have to focus what is ahead of us today and he has to focus on getting himself healthy.”

Threat up top

Defenseman FIlip Hronek led the Wings entering Thursday's game with 17 assists. No other player has reached double figures.

Hronek matched his career best with three points (a goal, two assists) in Tuesday's 4-2 victory over Carolina, with the goal snapping a 49-game goal drought.

Hronek earned two assists in a game for the third time in the last four games, and had eight points (one goal, seven assists) during that four-game span.

Moving Hronek from the flanks to a spot up top directing the power play has ignited the defenseman.

"That was the best Filip has played on the power play, probably since I've known him, especially up top," Blashill said. "On the flank he can really shoot it, he gets that one-timer out, but he attacked the power play the other night as good as any top guy I've seen.

"He was a shot threat every single time. Part of that is he's got two big guys in front (Michael Rasmussen, Adam Erne) who have pretty good sticks. He feels like it's not a wasted shot when he throws the puck in there, and that it has a chance to go in, and once he becomes a shot threat he can distribute (the puck) as well.

"He's as good as he's been up top, certainly all season, and probably that I've seen him play up there."

Ice chips

Bobby Ryan (undisclosed) missed his second consecutive game, and is considered day to day, Blashill said.

... Luke Glendening continues to lead the NHL in faceoff percentage at 64.3%. Only 49 players have posted a season with a percentage above 60% (minimum 200 faceoffs) since the NHL began tracking the statistic in 1997-98.

The only former Red Wing to do so was Kris Draper in the 2008-09 season (60.3%)

Twitter: @tkulfan