DETROIT – Between Mikael Samuelsson and Todd Bertuzzi, they combined to play 11 regular season games.
As the Detroit Red Wings head into Game 5 tonight in Anaheim, the two veteran forwards will look to build off their Game 4 performances.
“I don’t have any expectations,” Samuelsson said. “I took it as it came and went with it. I thought it was great, I thought it was fun. It’s a little different role for me, like go a little more to the net, stand there and battling a little bit, more than I’m used to. I played with two great players and it’s always fun.”
Samuelsson, who played just four games this regular season due to injury, started Game 3 on the Wings’ fourth line and moved up to the top line for Game 4 after Justin Abdelkader was handed a two-game suspension.
“As important as Abby is to our club, Sammy played with Pav and Z and had a good game,” forward Daniel Cleary said. “It’s not a rallying cry for the club but we understand the importance of him.”
Detroit coach Mike Babcock didn’t know if he’d stick with Samuelsson on a line with Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk in Game 5.
“I liked everything about him except the net-front presence,” Babcock said of Samuelsson said. “He makes good plays, he’s big, he’s strong, he skates, but they need someone at the net. That’s not his nature, he’s never been that guy on any line, but if you’re going to play with those guys you have to be in front of the net.”
Bertuzzi is in a bit of an unfamiliar role, playing on the team’s fourth line with Cory Emmerton and Patrick Eaves.
“I had been out for three months so I kind of understand what it takes in order to come in,” Bertuzzi said. “The other lines have been pretty much playing pretty well so it’s just something you got to adapt to.
“You have to change your game,” Bertuzzi added. “It’s a little bit different. You can’t afford to make those high-risk plays in our end. You’ve got to keep it simple and go from there.”
Bertuzzi, who played seven games during the regular season, played Game 2 for Jordin Tootoo before going back to being a healthy scratch for Game 3. He got back in the lineup due to Abdelkader’s suspension.
“I felt better,” Bertuzzi said. “It’s slowly coming. It’s not easy coming in after three months out and playing in a playoff series. It took an adjustment but most important is the wins.”
Babcock was quite pleased with the fourth line’s performance in Game 4.
“I thought they were our third line,” Babcock said. “Just because you start the game one stop doesn’t mean you have to stay. They were better than the other line so they got to play more. I thought Bert was good, we played him with different people throughout and I thought he was real effective.”