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Red Wings like look of third line

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings
Gustav Nyquist

DETROITGustav Nyquist sees the addition of Todd Bertuzzi to the third line as an intriguing move, one that could benefit the Red Wings as they gear up for the start of the regular-season.

Nyquist, Bertuzzi and center Joakim Andersson have brought must-needed energy in the exhibition season to the third line that once featured – at one time or another – center Darren Helm and forward Damien Brunner.

The Red Wings like the way Nyquist and Andersson played together in the playoffs last spring, so finding a winger to complement their speed and play-making ability is paramount. So far, Bertuzzi seems to be the answer.

“Todd's a great player, he's so strong on the puck,” Nyquist said. “Feels like he moves the opposing players where he wants to, stays on the puck and makes a lot of space for me. He can hold off the defender and the give it to me. I enjoy playing with him. He's a great player and a heavy body. It's fun.”

Despite being shutout for the second time in the preseason, the third line played very well in a 2-0 loss to the Boston Bruins on Saturday. Together, the Andersson line accounted for a third of the Wings’ 18 shots on goal and five of Detroit’s nine takeaways.

“Even if we get chances we still got to score. That's what counts,” Nyquist said. “I don't think we got on them as hard as we should have (Saturday) at home. When we beat them (8-2) away we knew they were going to come out hard. They didn't like that obviously. We got to be more ready and spend more time in their zone and grind them down a little bit. That's our game.”

A sore lower back limited the 38-year-old Bertuzzi to seven regular-season games last year. Fully recovered now, the veteran forward welcomes the chance to rejuvenate himself while contributing any way he can.

“It's fun playing with them. They're two kids that are high energy, they're not afraid to hold onto the puck and make plays,” Bertuzzi said. “I thought we did a few things pretty good offensively, but they're opportunistic kids. They can jump into holes. I think Nyquist's speed is underrated. He's a fast kid and can break loose a handful of times.”

Jonas Gustavsson

INJURY UPDATE: Backup goalie Jonas Gustavsson is likely to miss the next two weeks after injuring his groin while trying to make a save during the second period of Saturday’s 2-0 to the Bruins. Gustavsson is considered to be day to day and his status for the first week of the season is unknown.

Forward Daniel Alfredsson (groin) and defenseman Jakub Kindl (hip flexor) are day to day, and will not dress for Sunday's home game against Chicago. Forwards Patrick Eaves (MCL, ankle sprain) and Helm (lower back, groin) are out indefinitely.

JOB-SEEKERS: Rookie center Riley Sheahan is among 15 young players still vying for jobs in Detroit that, by all probability, don’t exist, coach Mike Babcock said.

At the start of training camp, Babcock called Sheahan the team’s sixth center, behind Pavel Datsyuk, Stephen Weiss, Darren Helm, Joakim Andersson and Cory Emmerton. While Helm (lower back, groin) won’t be ready at the start of the season, Sheahan hasn’t done enough to sneak into the group of top four centermen.

“No one of that (rookie) crew distinguished themselves that you’re saying, ‘Oh, we have to get rid of a veteran’ so they can play. Does that make any sense?” Babcock said. “That’s what has to happen. In the end we can talk about it all you want. You come in here and take someone’s job. That’s the NHL, you have to come in here and take someone’s job. We’re not giving them away. That hasn’t happened.”

CUT DAY: The Red Wings trimmed their roster to 38 players on Sunday, re-assigning 17 players to their American Hockey League club in Grand Rapids. NHL teams must set their 23-man rosters by 3 p.m. Sept. 30, the day before the start of the 2013-14 season.

The players cut are forwards: Tomas Jurco, Martin Frk, Andrej Nestrasil, Trevor Parkes, Mitch Callahan, Marek Tvrdon, Calle Jarnkrok, David McIntyre, Jeff Hoggan; defensemen Gleason Fournier, Ryan Sproul, Brennan Evans, Max Nicastro, Xavier Ouellet, Richard Nedomlel; and goalies Tom McCollum and Cam Lanigan.

VS. CHICAGO: The Red Wings are expected to play several of their top line players that didn’t suit up for Saturday’s game. Datsyuk’s line with wingers Henrik Zetterberg and Justin Abdelkader are coming off a combined eight-point performance in Thursday’s 8-2 win at Boston.

Goalie Jimmy Howard will get the start against the Blackhawks. He is 2-0-0 in the preseason, having stopped 27 of 29 shots on goal.

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose

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