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Old 03-18-2007, 06:54 PM   #879
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Location: Bigfork, MT
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Originally Posted by Bronx33 View Post
Is the return of this knuckle dragger all hype since the guy hasn't been or done shyt since his episode.

The Red Wings received a phenomenal piece of news this past week, learning that their newest teammate will be joining the lineup perhaps as soon as four days.

The Wings are convinced Todd Bertuzzi finally has strung together enough pain-free practices to play with them, and he'll do so at some point during the three-game home stand that begins Thursday.

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Bertuzzi's addition can hardly be overestimated, especially given the uncertainty surrounding Henrik Zetterberg's recovery from an inflamed disk. The Wings hope he will be able to resume playing before the regular season ends April 7.

In Zetterberg's absence, Bertuzzi will reinforce the lineup. Whether he ends up playing with fellow big man Robert Lang, or with Pavel Datsyuk while Zetterberg is out, Bertuzzi will add size and bite. He is dangerous with the puck and ferocious without it; Chris Chelios, who has a colorful history of one-on-one battles him, tells a vivid story of one particularly run-in.

"I remember the knee in the neck that I took from him," Chelios said. "I fell down and he ran into me in the face-off circle. He caught me perfect, gave me a stinger. I remember how that hurt. That's what 240 pounds will do as opposed to 185 pounds -- you have to worry about that element of physical presence that he adds. He's got a knack for catching you. He's big and has speed and with the size of him, you better be aware of where he is."

Bertuzzi can wear down opposing defensemen over a seven-game playoff series, especially under the new rules that limit methods of containment.

"In the old days, you could just put the lumber to Todd -- cross-check him, slash his ankles, slash his arms," Mathieu Schneider said. "But now you really have to try to outsmart a guy like that -- get to the puck right before he gets to it and lift his stick. He's very, very hard to defend against."

The additions of Bertuzzi and Kyle Calder will give the Wings what they lacked last season, and what led them to bubbly celebrations in 1997, 1998 and 2002: balanced forward lines. If everyone is healthy, the Wings will be able to load a scorer onto every line.

"That's something that whenever you've looked at how successful this team has been," Kris Draper said, "it's always been because we've had four good lines. That's the exciting thing."

It isn't just the Wings who are excited. Bertuzzi hasn't played in the NHL since Oct. 18, when he was with the Florida Panthers, who ended up giving up on him and shipping him to Detroit on Feb. 27 for a prospect and smartly protected draft picks. He started practicing with the Wings on March 1, and eagerly awaits being a part of their games.

"I'm really excited about coming into this system here," Bertuzzi said. "I think this system, more than any other system out there, benefits me. They play a high-tempo style of hockey, and their main asset is their puck possession, and that's the key for me, is having the puck."

There's another reason for Bertuzzi's giddiness, and that comes from a roster so impressive it's clear Bertuzzi won't be expected to carry the Wings.

"They are where they are because of everyone in this dressing room," Bertuzzi said, "and I'm just coming in to try to give them that one more step that they think they need in order to contend in the playoffs. It's exciting for me that a team like this, with the history of this team, was willing to take a chance on someone who hasn't really played this year."

There has, rightfully so, been a great deal of wondering about just how effective Bertuzzi will be after not playing for five months. Bertuzzi says he still got a lot of game left in him. The demonstration is about to begin.

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