Injuries continue to challenge the Detroit Red Wings in the first half of the season and the latest news isn't any better for the short-term. Already without defenseman Danny DeKeyser (upper body), the Red Wings will also miss top center Pavel Datsyuk and power forward Todd Bertuzzi when they face the Boston Bruins on Wednesday night at Joe Louis Arena in a "Wednesday Night Rivalry" game (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN).
It will be the second straight game without Datsyuk, who is going through concussion protocols after catching an elbow to the chin from Jared Cowen in 4-2 loss to the Ottawa Senators this past Saturday. "He'll go through the process," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said after a practice Tuesday. "He’s not playing [Wednesday] and then we'll talk to him after that. I think he had a light [bike] ride or something today. I don't remember exactly what all the protocol is, but we'll go through it and see what happens."
Bertuzzi will miss his third straight game with an undisclosed upper-body injury. He told reporters it's not an issue pertaining to the back injury that held him out almost all of last season, but is something that worsened since it originally happened last week against the Nashville Predators. "It's probably a little bit more than day-to-day," Bertuzzi said. "Obviously I hate missing games and I don't want to be out, but at the same time I've been playing with it for about a week and a half now … so I couldn't do it anymore."
Bertuzzi, who has scored five goals with four assists, said the injury happened while absorbing a hit from Predators defenseman Shea Weber. He felt it right away but continued to play. He also played 14:53 and finished with a minus-2 rating in the next game, a 4-3 win against the Carolina Hurricanes.
"It wasn't good," Bertuzzi said. "It was getting worse and worse [between games] and the more I was playing, the worse it was starting to get. By the end, I'm going out there at 60 percent. I can't go out there and do anything I'm supposed to do. Better off getting it healthy and healed." After missing almost the entire 2012-13 season with the back issue, Bertuzzi worked his way back into the lineup in a top-line role this season.
"That's why it’s frustrating not playing," he said. "I've spent enough time in this [locker] room in civilian clothes that it's not fun. But if I can't go out there and contribute and play the way I need to play, I'm basically just a sitting pylon out there. I might as well get it healthy now and hopefully in the next little while it'll settle down and I can get back out there and play."
Without two-thirds of their normal top line, the Red Wings are expected to go with a top unit consisting of captain Henrik Zetterberg in the middle with Johan Franzen on the left wing and Gustav Nyquist on the right wing.
Other news out of Detroit's practice Tuesday included Babcock revealing a somewhat surprising starter in goal against the Bruins. He's going with backup Jonas Gustavsson, who is 5-0-1 in his six starts. Top goalie Jimmy Howard, who signed a six-year contract extension last season, is in the midst of a career-long seven game winless stretch (0-3-4). Babcock hopes to give him some time off to work with Red Wings goaltending coach Jim Bedard and get his mind clear.
"The biggest thing we're doing right now is it hasn't gone as good as [Howard] would like," Babcock said. "Let's be clear about this, we're going as far as [Howard] takes us. We've got an elite goalie who it hasn't gone as good … when you're a goalie and it happens for you, the spotlight is on you because it affects everything." Gustavsson is coming off a strong 21-save performance in a 3-1 road victory Sunday against the Buffalo Sabres.
"He's played well for us," Babcock said. "He gives us a chance. It's important that we win games and it's important that we get Howie feeling good about himself. To me the whole key is confidence for Howie and feeling good about himself and then we can continue to roll on.”
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