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Notes: Green out indefinitely with a virus

Bertuzzi benefiting from long, healthy summer spent in the gym

by Dana Wakiji @Dwakiji / DetroitRedWings.com

DETROIT -- It appears that the Detroit Red Wings will be without Mike Green for a while.

The question right now is how long he will be out.

Green told coaches that did not have his usual energy so they held him out of practice and sent him to see the doctor.

"He's not available right now," Wings coach Jeff Blashill said after Friday's practice at the BELFOR Training Center. "He's got a virus that attacked his liver, so he's seen an infectious disease person today and we should know more here in the next little bit. I don't know how long he's going to be out. I don't know the totality of it. He's got a virus."

There are already four young defensemen in Joe Hicketts, Libor Sulak, Filip Hronek and Dennis Cholowski battling for a spot on the Wings' roster.

If Green has to miss extended time, that could mean more minutes for one of them and for the veteran defensemen.

"I think the young guys have really been pushing for jobs anyway," Niklas Kronwall said. "If that's the case, I'm not sure what the status is and how long … I knew he had something going. I do think all your young guys have really been pushing, they're coming. And their push is to play all of the older guys as well. So the more competition, the better we are. Everything is going to come down to probably the last game and then the management is going to have to make some decisions."

Of course, all of Green's teammates are concerned about him.

"Obviously it's going to be a big loss to lose him," Trevor Daley said. "Greener's our teammate and our friend, so we just want him to be healthy, whatever form that is. As long as he's healthy and ready to come back, I'll be happy with that."

BERTUZZI EXPECTING A LOT: For the first time in a long time, Tyler Bertuzzi came into camp after a long, healthy summer of working out at home in Sudbury, Ontario.

"I had a good summer, the first summer that I wasn't hurt. It was a good summer in the gym and I'm excited to be back," Bertuzzi said. "I got to skate all summer, too. I feel faster, stronger on the puck. I feel really, really good out there."

In previous summers, Bertuzzi had been limited by injury or illness.

Now he has added five to six pounds of muscle to his 6-foot frame.

"He looks excellent," Blashill said. "He's certainly, I know, put a lot of work in this summer and he looks excellent. He's strong on his skates, he wins puck battles. I think he's an excellent hockey player so I know he's put himself in a good position to have success."

Bertuzzi also enters camp without the expectation of having to make the team, although he is taking nothing for granted.

"Nothing is set in stone. You got to earn your spot," Bertuzzi said. "I'm going to take it the same way I took it last year and the year before, just come to camp and work hard and earn my spot and earn some ice time."

At least in the early going, Blashill has Bertuzzi on a line with Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha.

"Larks has got the speed, Mo's got size and I'll go to the net front," Bertuzzi said. "Mo will go to the net front too. It's more or less for me and Mo to create space for Larks to get some speed and get some scoring opportunities and hopefully we'll be in front to bang in some rebounds.

"We're all eager, we got a lot of energy so I think that's going to be big for us, good on the forecheck and create space for each other, make some plays and be good defensively so we can get into the O-zone and get time down there."

Larkin has noticed a difference in Bertuzzi after all the work he put in over the summer.

"I think he looks great," Larkin said. "I'm expecting a lot of pucks in the middle of the ice to me with time and space. That's what he does. He mucks it up on the wall and in the corners or on the blue line. For a player like me, it's going to open up a ton of ice. It'll take a little bit personally, I think, with timing, working that out with him and I. Once we figure that out, I'm going to love playing with him. I already do."

Even before captain Henrik Zetterberg announced he could no longer play because of a degenerative back condition, the experts were not high on the Wings' chances this season.

Bertuzzi said he doesn't pay attention to the predictions because he's got one of his own.

"I guess you could look at it that way but we know what kind of group we have in here and we're all hard workers and we all want that end goal," Bertuzzi said. "We're going to build off of last season and I can guarantee that we'll have a better one."

SULAK WORKING TO IMPRESS: Sulak, who had two assists in the 4-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks Thursday night, was happy about his first preseason game.

"I feel so good. Good start," Sulak said. "First game and I'm so glad I can play here and I will do everything to stay here, play good defense, play good offense, play good neutral zone and help team, listen to my coach and I will do that."

His defense partner, Daley, was impressed.

"I thought he was great," Daley said. "He's big, he's strong, he skates great. He's got everything that you want as a defenseman. He's really given himself a good opportunity."

One thing that stood out about Sulak was his skating and the way he joined the rush.

"I have long legs," the 6-foot-3 Sulak said. "I was good skater when I was young. I like skating and like to have work with my legs. I will be better and better."

Blashill said after the game that Sulak could make an adjustment to his game that actually helped Green when he came to Detroit.

"When Mike got here, we just felt he was such a good forward skater, let's get up, skate forwards, lateral gap, so instead of slipping your hips and taking one-on-one backwards all the time, get up, skate forwards, angle and sweep guys down the wall and then you play it more of a forward skating one-on-one instead of a defensive skating one-on-one," Blashill said. "Some guys are excellent defensive skaters and really good lateral mobility, some guys are great forward skaters and we try to utilize their skill-set. I thought it really helped Mike over the three years he's been here really handle those situations."

While offense seems to come naturally to Sulak, he knows where his priorities lie.

"I think I have to play first good defense and then I join the rush to offense, join forward, pass and go skate," Sulak said. "That's the key, good skating with the forwards and good play in defense and then I can join."

Sulak said it helped being paired with Daley during his first game.

"I played with Dales, he's great guy, he helped me," Sulak said. "He said defend like last year and if I sometimes don't understand what I do, he will help me. I appreciate it."

Daley remembers what it was like to just get into the league and as a veteran, he's always willing to help.

"It is a hard transition," Daley said. "But some of these come in, they're physically ready, they've gone through the process of getting themselves ready to be NHL players. The reps and the games and then seeing what the guys are doing, the experience I think. With that, I think that helps a lot. If they ask me anything, I'll be willing to help or whatever advice I could give, I'll obviously try to give."

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