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Banged-up Red Wings happy to have Bertuzzi back

by Dan Rosen

NEWARK, N.J. -- Center Darren Helm is the latest addition to the growing Detroit Red Wings injury list, but at least they will have one player back in the lineup Friday when they face the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center.

Right wing Todd Bertuzzi is returning after missing the past six games with an upper-body injury. He will start the game on the first line, with Johan Franzen and Gustav Nyquist.

The Red Wings will be without Helm (shoulder), captain Henrik Zetterberg (back), center Pavel Datsyuk (concussion) and defenseman Danny DeKeyser (shoulder). Helm is missing his first game after playing in 15 straight. An MRI exam Thursday showed fluid in the forward's shoulder.

"I'm excited to be back," Bertuzzi said. "It's not a lot of fun when you're out and all that, but it was out of my control. I feel better and I'm playing with two pretty good players so my job doesn't really change. It's get them the puck, go to the net, get to the hard areas."

Bertuzzi echoed the thoughts of coach Mike Babcock, who said the veteran forward was doing those things when he was playing with Datsyuk prior to sustaining his injury.

"That's what the encouraging part is," Babcock said. "[Franzen] and Nyquist will have the puck. Get it to them, get to the net and get it back."

The discouraging part is Bertuzzi wasn't producing before he left the lineup. He had no points and was a minus-8 in six games from Nov. 9-21. The Red Wings were 1-1-4 in that span.

"You've still got to go out there and earn your ice, do what you can," Bertuzzi said.

Helm will miss the first of what general manager Ken Holland said would be at least two games with his shoulder injury. He was on a hot streak with six goals and three assists in 10 games.

"I can sit here and spend a whole lot of time in Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Helm, DeKeyser -- waste of time," Babcock said. "They're working hard at getting healthy and we're working hard at having a great plan. The way we're going to win [Friday] is having unmatched work ethic with commitment to structure and discipline for 60 minutes. That's it.

"The positive upside is there is opportunity out there. Who is getting it? We're going to watch them. If your season isn't going good and you want more ice time, there's more ice time. Someone is going to get it. I may find the player. I'm going to watch. They're going to play. They're going to decide."

Jonas Gustavsson will get the start in net after Jimmy Howard gave up five goals on 33 shots in a 6-3 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday. Gustavsson has won his past four starts, allowing seven goals on 98 shots (.929 save percentage) in that span. He is 7-0-1 with a 2.15 goals-against average and .929 save percentage in nine games this season.

Babcock would not say if Gustavsson or Howard will start Saturday when the Red Wings play at home against the Florida Panthers. Howard had a 29-save shutout against the New York Islanders on Nov. 29, but he's allowed three or more goals in seven of his past 10 starts, including four games in which he gave up at least four goals.

"[Gustavsson] is in the net and so what we'll do is we'll watch the game and then we'll make a decision based on what goes on," Babcock said. "Now [Howard] has to get to work. [Howard] is a workaholic anyway. That's not an issue, but there's a fine line in our game between getting hit in the shoulder and having it go into the top corner. Right now it's going in."

Here is the lineup the Red Wings are expected to use (click here to see the Devils lineup):

Gustav Nyquist - Johan Franzen - Todd Bertuzzi

Justin Abdelkader - Stephen Weiss - Daniel Alfredsson

Drew Miller - Joakim Andersson - Tomas Tatar

Daniel Cleary - Cory Emmerton - Mikael Samuelsson

Jonathan Ericsson - Niklas Kronwall

Kyle Quincey - Brendan Smith

Brian Lashoff - Jakub Kindl

Jonas Gustavsson

Jimmy Howard

Injured: Pavel Datsyuk (concussion), Henrik Zetterberg (back), Danny DeKeyser (shoulder), Darren Helm (shoulder)


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