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Notes: Tyler Bertuzzi ready for NHL debut

Jimmy Howard gets second consecutive start; Steve Mason in goal for Philadelphia

by Dana Wakiji @Dwakiji /

PHILADELPHIA - That young face you see beneath the flowing mane of hair skating on the Red Wings' top line tonight will, in fact, be Tyler Bertuzzi making his NHL debut against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Detroit took Bertuzzi, the nephew of former Wing Todd Bertuzzi, in the second round, 58th overall, of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.

Once known more for his scrappiness and abundance of penalty minutes, Bertuzzi has evolved into an energetic forward who thrives on getting under opponents' skin and scoring goals near the net.

"He's really, really matured as a young guy, he's a great, great young guy," Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. "He handles himself with good confidence. He's paying attention to details way better. I'd say the biggest thing with his game is it's translated everywhere he's gone. I think he made an adjustment last year in junior from being a tough little player to a real hockey player that can score and ever since then he's been a real good prospect."

Todd Bertuzzi's former teammate, Daniel Cleary, took young Tyler under his wing when Tyler turned pro last year and joined the AHL's Grand Rapids Griffins.

"He's (had) a big impact," Bertuzzi said. "Being down there and just the pro transition. He's been good to me. I'm happy that he's been there for the ride."

Naturally Bertuzzi heard from Cleary once Cleary found out that the Wings had called up his protege.

"He sent me a text, 'Just play your game and do what got you there. Just bring your energy and have fun, enjoy it,'" Bertuzzi said. "There's only one time you get your first game."

Captain Henrik Zetterberg remembered his first game, which was on the road in San Jose, but scoring his first goal in Anaheim was a little more memorable.

Zetterberg said he didn't feel he needed to say anything to Bertuzzi before the game.

"I think he knows what to do here," Zetterberg said. "He's done a good job in Grand Rapids so when he got the call he was ready to go here. I think he has a lot of good sides to him - skilled, knows where to be on the ice, he's tough like his uncle and goes into the tough areas."

As he did in practice Monday, Bertuzzi skated on a line with veteran Frans Nielsen and Dylan Larkin.

"The way we have it set up there is we've kind of got a net-front guy on each line," Blashill said. "And that would be Bert, being a guy that's more natural at getting to the net than Nielsen or Larkin. Not that those guys can't take their turns there but he's just a more natural guy. I think there's lots of forecheck pressure between the three of them. I think there's a combination of speed, skill, size and tenacity. That's what we'd love to have on every line."

Although Bertuzzi has never played with Nielsen, he has played preseason games with Larkin.

"Just moving the puck around out there," Bertuzzi said. "I've watched them play before so I know what they're like to play with. They're fast, just got to chip pucks wide and they use their speed so it should be good tonight."

Larkin is actually a year younger than Bertuzzi but has a year of NHL experience under his belt.

"I've had chemistry with him in training camp and playing with him in prospects tournament," Larkin said. "He works hard, he's going to bring it every night. He's going to bring some grit and be able to move pucks and when he gets into the slot he's a sniper."

HOWARD IN, MILLER OUT: Blashill confirmed that Jimmy Howard would start in goal, giving him two consecutive starts for the first time this season.

"Just go out there and play," Howard said. "That's all I'm going to concentrate on doing. It's just about going out there and giving the guys a chance to win."

In six career games against the Flyers, Howard is 3-3-0 with s 3.36 goals-against average and .897 save percentage.

Howard is well aware that the Wings have not won in Philadelphia since 1997, a 12-game losing streak, including last week's 4-3 overtime loss.

"Sooner or later it's got to end, so we've just got to go out there and play our game," Howard said. "We can't give them any freebies."

With Bertuzzi in the lineup, Blashill said Drew Miller would sit out. Riley Sheahan skated on a line with Luke Glendening and Steve Ott in practice.

FROM THE FLYERS: Although it was just six days ago that these two teams met at Wells Fargo Center, the Flyers have made a few changes.

Matt Read is now on the top line with Claude Giroux and Wayne Simmonds.

Two players who were injured, defenseman Michael Del Zotto and forward Michael Raffl, are now back in the lineup.

In nine career games against the Wings, Raffl has four goals and four assists.

Steve Mason gets the start in goal. Last week it was Michal Neuvirth.

Mason is 12-12-2 with four shutouts, a 2.73 goals-against average and .919 save percentage in 26 games against the Wings.

This is the second of two consecutive home games for the Flyers against the Wings. The last time the Flyers played consecutive home games against the same opponent within a week's time was in 1987, when they hosted the New York Rangers March 12 and 17.

"It is different but we also played Arizona two times in the first (eight) games as well," Read said. "It's part of the schedule. You're familiar with the team, it's right on the back of your brain. We came out with an overtime goal. It's fresh on our minds. We didn't play to our potential last game and we got to show up tonight ready to go because they're a good hockey team, they play fast. If you take one shift off, they're talented enough they can score any given second so it should be another good challenge for us."

Simmonds said they had a similar thing with the Montreal Canadiens, visiting there Oct. 24 and Nov. 5.

"They got a little bit more pre-scouting videos," Simmonds said. "Obviously you're not working off of last year. We've already seen these guys once so we kind of know what to expect. It's a little bit different but it's not really different at all actually. It's just the way the schedule breaks down."

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