PHILADELPHIA — The Detroit Red Wings are hoping left winger Tyler Bertuzzi can bring them some of the net-front presence that his uncle so often did when the 21-year-old forward makes his NHL debut Tuesday night in Philadelphia.
With the Red Wings (6-6-1) on a five-game losing streak and Thomas Vanek on long-term injury reserve, the Red Wings recalled Bertuzzi from Grand Rapids of the American Hockey League on Monday. Detroit plans to insert him into the lineup against the Flyers (6-6-1).
“When he's playing well, he's a guy who's on the puck a lot,” Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill told CBS Detroit. “He's got a good reach and stick on pucks so he creates turnovers. He finds a way to hard areas of the ice. He can shoot the puck from in tight areas, finds a way to score in those tight areas and gets to the net hard.”
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That's something the Red Wings haven't done much of during their losing streak, in which they have scored just nine goals. They've averaged just 28.1 shots per game this season, third-lowest in the league.
“As a team, the one thing we've talked about is we need to do a better job of getting to the net front, we need to do a better job of shooting the puck and I think he does those two things,” Blashill said.
Bertuzzi, a 6-foot-1, 190-pounder, practiced on a line with Frans Nielsen and Dylan Larkin on Monday, but that was just to give captain Henrik Zetterberg a maintenance day. Bertuzzi is expected to play on the second or third line.
“I just want to bring energy,” he said. “Play my game, keep doing what I do and just bring energy. Block shots, play good defensively and just take my chances when I get them.”
Ironically, the Red Wings will be facing one of the NHL's loosest teams defensively. The Flyers have allowed the second-most goals in the league behind Calgary and only the Arizona Coyotes have surrendered more goals per game than the Flyers' 3.69.
Look for Flyers goaltender Steve Mason (2-4-0, 3.46 GAA, .878 SP) to return to action Tuesday night after Michal Neuvirth (4-2-0, 3.57, .859) started the past four games, including a wild 4-3 overtime win against the Red Wings on Nov. 2.
Detroit blew a 3-2 lead in the final 64 seconds of that game.
Mason has not played since Oct. 29 when he was pulled in favor of Neuvirth after allowing three goals on 13 shots in a loss to the Penguins.
“I think both guys would look back on a couple of plays and say they need to be a little bit better,” Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said of his goaltenders. “I think that's an honest approach and, like many other areas of our game, I think that's one area that we can improve upon a little bit. Everything we do is a team game.”
The Flyers are close to getting forward Scott Laughton back. He skated with the team on Monday after a two-game conditioning stint with the AHL Lehigh Valley Phantoms, with whom he picked up a goal and two assists. Laughton ended last season with a concussion and reportedly injured his left knee in training camp.