Todd Bertuzzi will make his 2013 playoff debut tonight in Game 2.
Red Wings coach Mike Babcock told reporters in Anaheim that Bertuzzi will replace Jordin Tootoo in the lineup.
“Obviously, when he plays well, he’s a big man with good hands,” Babcock said. “We need him to take care of the puck and be on the forecheck and grind down low. “Hasn’t played all year. It’s going to be a tough thing for him. He’s got to help us.”
Bertuzzi was limited to seven regular-season games because of back problems. His last game was Feb. 7 at St. Louis.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” Bertuzzi said. “It’s been a long three months. Looking forward to just getting in, helping the guys and being a part of if again.
“The guys have been doing a really good job. It’s a really important game.”
Bertuzzi, who said he’s finally healthy, believes that he’ll be able to contribute.
“The one thing I’ve got going for me is, it’s not my first year,” Bertuzzi said. “I’ve been around a bit, understand the game and I understand the playoff game.”
Bertuzzi’s teammates said they’re happy to have him back on the ice with them.
“He’s worked his butt off to get back in shape with this injury,” Patrick Eaves said. “He’s a huge man who can play that style of game, and he has a high-end skill set, too.
“He’s very dynamic, and we’re very fortunate to have him on our team.”
Bertuzzi will be playing with Cory Emmerton and Eaves.
“I think he plays extremely heavy on the puck, and he’s hard to get the puck away from,” Emmerton said. “So he’s going to make it hard for them, on their D.
“Pretty much, I’m just going to try to get the puck down low to him and let him go to work.”
Babcock also indicated that Bertuzzi might not be the only now-healthy forward joining the group. He told Samuelsson to be ready to go in case another player cannot. Babcock said he’d decide after warm-ups.
“I’m very anxious,” Samuelsson said. “I love the playoffs. I think everybody does, and I would love to play the game.”
Although the Wings had trouble with the defensemen making the initial pass out of their own zone, Babcock said he never thought about making changes on the blue line.
“I never considered it for a second,” Babcock said.