Abel to Yzerman

Abel to Yzerman

A2Y- Tyler Bertuzzi's Game

02/08/2023 at 4:55pm EST

from Ansar Khan of Mlive,

“I’m not at 100 percent but I’m starting to feel a little more confident and feel better with the puck, and obviously playing with Larks and Razor (Lucas Raymond), we’re starting to build our chemistry,” Bertuzzi said. “Trying to keep it as simple as possible and the results will come.”

Bertuzzi scored a career-high 30 goals last season, and the Red Wings were counting on him being an offensive catalyst again.

“It looks like he’s building his game,” coach Derek Lalonde said. “It went for him last night, but even in practice today, it would be hard not to notice. It’s a very good sign.

“I have to give him credit for trying to manage his game a little better. You can see his shift lengths he’s managing. He had a bad turnover for the goal against on the empty-netter, but you’re not seeing him with the egregious turnovers.”

Lalonde hasn’t coached Bertuzzi for long but knows what he can provide when healthy.

“He hunts pucks. He keeps pucks alive. He’s got that stick,” Lalonde said. “Watching him last year and what he’s been missing with not having his rhythm, not being around, is his little two-foot races in the O-zone on the forecheck that he gets a stick on and keeps alive. He was unable to get there. Now you can see his pace getting there. The goal he scored was a great example of execution on a set forecheck. They kept the play alive and put it in the back of the net. That’s who he is.”



from Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press,

It's getting late in the season to still learn these lessons: The Wings are 21-20-8 and have five teams ahead of them in the race to just get to a wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.

"We have to finish," coach Derek Lalonde said. "I know it sounds simple, but we’re not natural finishers, goal scorers. We don’t have a ton of 30-, 40-, 50-goal scorers on our team. We don’t actually have any of them, really. It’s kind of got to be by a group. We just have to cash in on some of those chances. We had those looks, unfortunately it just didn’t go in.

"The inability to finish with some of our looks was a little bit frustrating."...

The frustration for the Wings is that they could have had a multi-goal lead coming out of the first period — Robby Fabbri missed an open net, and Moritz Seider and Jonatan Berggren hit goal posts. Then they fell behind 3-1, but Joe Veleno, on a setup by Moritz Seider that happened right after a great penalty killing shift by Pius Suter, scored with seconds to play in the second period.

"That was a huge turning point," Larkin said. "We were feeling good going into the third. Mo made a great place, Suits made a great play on (Connor) McDavid and it was there. We felt really good."

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from Kevin Allen of Detroit Hockey Now,

Lalonde is clear about what he wants from Zadina if he plays him.

“The same we ask of all of guys,” Lalonde said. “Manage his game. We’ve done a good job of limiting turnovers. Last night was a really frustrating game. We talk about the whole, we only had 21 turnovers. We win in games in which we have 21 turnovers. But the turnovers, we had five odd-man rushes and it was the difference in the game. Goal number two – odd-man rush ended up in the back of our net. We lost our momentum on our power play when we give up odd-man rushes. And then the three-on-two with five minutes left was the last odd-man we gave up and we took a penalty on it. And that was the game. Like him, just managing the game. Don’t turn pucks over. Be responsible away from the puck.”

Zadina doesn’t have to score to stay in the lineup, according to Lalonde.

“No,” Lalonde said. “You hope offense is a by-product of it but we want him good, like we ask all of our guys, away from the puck. Of course, with his skill set and his potential, you would like pucks to go in the net for him. But we want him to improve his overall 200-foot game.”

Lalonde didn’t say who would sit if Zadina plays. But Dominik Kubalik seems like a candidate to be a healthy scratch. He has one goal in his past 10 games. Kubalik is not playing with the same confidence he displayed earlier in the season.

“For Kuby I just think it’s something any player, when you fight through things, keep working at it,” Lalonde said. “Because his care level is extremely high. There’s probably a definite between his ears right now. The good thing is he’s still getting looks. It’s just his stick looks a little nervous, which is . . . players go through it.”



from Bob Wojnowski of the Detroit News,

The Red Wings and Pistons sit at dangerous intersections, pretty much where they’ve sat for nearly a decade. And they can’t keep making the same turn toward uncertainty.

Arguably the best player on each team is in quasi-limbo. Dylan Larkin, 26, is due to become an unrestricted free agent after the season. By most accounts, he and the Wings are at an impasse in contract talks, although the gap seems relatively modest. Steve Yzerman doesn’t lose many negotiations, one of the reasons he’s a highly successful GM. In this case, he doesn’t need the win. He needs to keep Larkin, a valuable player in his prime....

Just as it’s hard to replace a starting quarterback, it’s hard to replace a top-line center. Larkin changed agents last year and is believed to be seeking an eight-year deal in excess of $68 million. Yzerman reportedly is offering eight years and $64 million. The Wings have ample cap space, which doesn’t mean Yzerman should spend it indiscriminately. He built a Stanley Cup-winner in Tampa Bay partly by drawing hard lines with top players, such as captain Steven Stamkos, who re-signed at the final hour in 2016 for precisely $68 million over eight years.

Larkin isn’t Stamkos. He might not even be a No. 1 center on many teams. It took Yzerman more than a year of evaluation before awarding Larkin the captaincy in 2021. Yzerman’s prove-it approach is legendary, and Larkin’s production is tantalizing, but not elite. He has two 30-goal seasons and is a reliable leader. He’s tied for the team lead in goals (15) and tops in points (44) while playing with wingers who are young (Lucas Raymond, 20), oft-injured (Tyler Bertuzzi, Robby Fabbri) or absent (Jakub Vrana).

Investing heavily in the best player on a mediocre team is a dubious practice. But, this is not a line worth drawing for Yzerman. It’s also not a line worth drawing for Larkin, a local guy who grew up in Waterford and went to Michigan. He isn’t required to give a hometown discount, and he might not even be asked to do it. The Wings can offer one more year than any other team to their own free agent, and when Larkin hits that eighth season, he’ll be 34 and probably happy with the salary....

There are valid reasons Yzerman may hold firm. The handy comparable is center Bo Horvat, recently dealt by the Canucks to the Islanders. Horvat, 27, is in the midst of a career season, with 32 goals, and signed an eight-year contract averaging $8.5 million. If the Wings are offering Larkin $8 million and his agent is angling for closer to $9 million, there appears to be a simple compromise.

Is Larkin a franchise center who should command $9 million annually? No, but he’s the only franchise center the Wings have. The market sets the price, and if he hits free agency, he’d likely land a bigger deal than Horvat’s. He might get his asking price, but at the cost of leaving the only place he’s played.

The Wings don’t have many top-level players and their best ones are young — Raymond, Moritz Seider, Filip Hronek — or not ready for the NHL. Derek Lalonde has done a solid job, in his first season as coach, boosting the defense. But, the scoring woes won’t improve by moving on from Larkin.

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