Babcock wants Bertuzzi to shoot, not pass Tuesday, April 03, 2007 By Ansar Khan DETROIT -- Detroit Red Wings forward Todd Bertuzzi, with his size and strength, will create space for his new linemates, Robert Lang and Kyle Calder. He can also generate scoring opportunities with his soft-touch passes.
But, coach Mike Babcock doesn't want Bertuzzi to be too unselfish.
"Bert likes to pass the puck,'' Babcock said. "Forget that. Langer will pass the puck, you (Bertuzzi) shoot the puck and take it to the net and Calder will be there.''
Babcock, as was his plan all along, moved Bertuzzi off of Pavel Datsyuk's line and onto the second unit Sunday in Columbus. That's where he'll play the final three games of the regular season and at least at the start of the playoffs.
"We knew with four games left we were going to throw them together and try to get some chemistry,'' Babcock said. "We think it has every opportunity to work.''
The troublesome second line got a huge boost after Calder was acquired by the Wings on Feb. 26. He immediately developed chemistry with Lang. But, the two, along with rookie Jiri Hudler, have struggled the last couple of weeks. Calder has gone eight games without a point and Lang has just one assist in his last seven games.
"I thought Robert Lang was very good (Sunday) defensively and that's going to be an unbelievable line if Langer commits to playing well without the puck, '' Babcock said. "He does that and the rest will look after itself. He's a big man who can make plays and these guys are big around the net.''
Defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom expects to return for tonight's home game against Columbus, but Mathieu Schneider, who didn't practice Monday, might not play due to a sore right elbow, Babcock said. Kyle Quincey will play if Schneider can't.
As much as the Wings want to win a couple of their remaining games to lock up the top playoff seed in the Western Conference, they're not taking any chances with players who have minor ailments.
"These guys could all play if we were in the playoffs, but we just can't risk it,'' Babcock said. "With Kronner gone (defenseman Niklas Kronwall is sidelined with a fractured sacrum), we can't get any more (injuries).''
Lidstrom said his back had been sore before last Thursday's game in Nashville.
"It's been lingering for a bit, so I decided to take a game off to see if it would get better and it did,'' Lidstrom said. "It's the muscles more than anything, so it's not too severe.''
Forward Henrik Zetterberg continues to skate hard in practice but said he's at least a couple of days away from returning.
"I'm skating pretty good but still haven't taken the final step, battling (for the puck) and stops and starts,'' Zetterberg said. "Sometimes it's better, sometimes it's worse. The good thing is I've been skating for a long time, so when I start playing it's not going to be that big a step.''
He said if the playoffs began tonight he probably would have tried to play.
Goaltender Dominik Hasek enjoyed WrestleMania Sunday at Ford Field. "I had the best seats in the house, right in the first row,'' Hasek said. "I was hoping Donald (Trump) was going to shave his head but at least Vince (McMahon) was shaving, so it was fun.'' . . . Hasek was named the NHL's third star of the week, after compiling a 2-0-1 record with a 1.30 goals-against average and .951 save percentage. . . . Forward Tomas Kopecky, out since Dec. 14 with a broken collar bone, said he'll be ready to play next month, if the team is still in the playoffs and needs an injury replacement.