Wings stick up for each other, but did Bertuzzi go too far?
Colorado forward Matt Calvert is the center of attention from Red Wings Dylan Larkin (71), Tyler Bertuzzi and Mike Green.
After the ice chips settled from back-to-back games this weekend, one thing was quite clear about these Red Wings: They will not tolerate physical liberties being taken against their teammates.
First came Detroit’s 4-2 win in Boston on Saturday night. Tyler Bertuzzi got in Brad Marchand’s face after Marchand’s questionable hit along the boards on Nic Jensen. Then he grabbed Marchand and started throwing punches after Marchand laid a two-handed slash on Jimmy Howard as he headed to the bench while a penalty was being called on the Bruins.
Luke Witkowski mixed it up with Boston’s Joakim Nordstrom after Witkowski’s hard hit on David Krejci.
Then came Detroit’s 2-0 loss to the Colorado Avalanche Sunday night at Little Caesars Arena. Bertuzzi immediately took on Colorado defenseman Ian Cole after Cole hit Andreas Athanasiou. Teammate Anthony Mantha did the same thing against Patrick Nemeth after his hit on Dylan Larkin.
Both Bertuzzi and Mantha were the clear winners in their fights.
On Monday, the NHL decided Bertuzzi took team loyalty too far and suspended him for two games for “unsportsmanlike conduct and roughing on Avalanche forward Matt Calvert.”
Bertuzzi, who was on the bench, threw a punch at Calvert during a scrum along the boards in front of the Detroit bench in the third period, after Calvert was hit along the boards there by Mike Green.
Bertuzzi will miss Tuesday night’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Little Caesars Arena and Thursday’s game at the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Despite the suspension, actions like that can bring a team together as happened in Boston, where the Wings won for the first time in more than five years.
Both Athanasiou and Larkin were shaken up by the hits Sunday night. Larkin even went through concussion protocol, likely because he put his hand on his head after the hit. Both were ultimately fine.
Coach Jeff Blashill didn’t mind losing two of his best players to five minutes each in the penalty box.
"We'll go a lot further with us sticking up for each other than any downside of losing real good players," he said. "We're going to win in this room as a group and we're going to win fighting for each other and sticking up for each other. We said that from Day One. That's the way the game goes.”
Niklas Kronwall agreed with his coach.
"I think it's great," he said. "You love to see that, whether it was Bert (Bertuzzi) or Mo (Mantha). Awesome."
Larkin was happy that Mantha went after Nemeth.
"We did a good job all night with physical play," Larkin said after Sunday night’s game. "We stuck up for each other. I think that's what we got to do. It started last night with (Luke Witkowski) in Boston, and it carried over to tonight.”
He also talked about the overall effect on the team.
"It does give us confidence, it gives us a swagger,” Larkin said. “We'll see if teams want to play that way, we're not afraid of it and it shows. We stuck together, and that's what it's going to take."
No World Juniors for Rasmussen
The Red Wings have decided that Michael Rasmussen will not participate in the World Junior Championship Dec. 26-Jan.5 in Vancouver and Victoria, British Columbia.
Rasmussen is too valuable to the team to leave for several weeks to participate in the tournament, the organization believes.
After a slow start, the 19-year-old Rasmussen, who’s 6-6 and 221 pounds, has five goals and nine points in 25 games. He plays a net-front presence on the power play and leads the team with three power-play goals.