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Detroit Red Wings’ Jonathan Bernier, Tyler Bertuzzi beginning to skate, return dates unclear

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Usually, injury news isn’t all that exciting during a long NHL season as illness is a way of life for any team.

But in this case it was remarkable considering who it was.

Goalkeeper Jonathan Bernier and striker Tyler Bertuzzi both start skating. You are both with the team on this current Florida trip and nearing a return to the line-up.

More so, Bernier, said coach Jeff Blashill after skating Thursday morning. Bernier participated as he was steadily moving away from a lower body injury.

“He’s getting closer,” said Blashill. “We practice tomorrow and we’ll see how he handles it.”

If Bernier can return soon and show he’s healthy after injuring Dallas on March 18, it would lead to an intriguing situation nearing the close of trading on April 12.

The 32-year-old Bernier has been one of the better goalkeepers in the NHL for over a calendar year with impressive consistency, despite playing for one of the league’s weaker defensive teams.

Bernier, an unrestricted free agent this summer, is over .500 (8-6-0) this season, averaging 2.78 goals against average and a 0.918 percent saving.

Detroit goalkeeper Jonathan Bernier is helped off the ice by teammate Vladislav Namestnikov (left) and Dylan Larkin following an injury in the second half.

It would not be surprising if General Manager Steve Yzerman would sign again Bernier, who has settled into the starting role at the Wings. The team has no clear option to replace Bernier, who is currently on the organization’s depth map.

The Wings signed goalkeeper Thomas Greiss in the last off-season in the hope of creating a competitive, consistent combination.

But Greiss (2-14-4, 3.42 GAA, .888 SVS) has big problems, and Bernier has continued to establish himself as option No. 1.

With the wings rebuilding going strong, the return of another team looking to upgrade their goalkeeping position could be significant if Bernier were available.

It could be an offer that Yzerman may not be able to refuse.

There are several Stanley Cup contenders, particularly Colorado, Washington, maybe Toronto or Philadelphia, who have suffered goalkeeping injuries and could use a solid veteran like Bernier.

As for Bertuzzi, who hasn’t played since January 30 and has only played nine games this season with an unknown injury (speculating it was a back condition), the news of his skating has been positive but tempered.

Bertuzzi has skated three times in the last four days which is undoubtedly good news.

“That’s positive,” said Blashill when Bertuzzi was on the ice fairly regularly. “This is progress and we’ll see where it goes from here. He’s getting closer, if not close to practicing. “

Bertuzzi has shown some progress in the last two months, but then had to switch off because of discomfort after several days of skating.

It remains to be seen whether Bertuzzi has enough time this season to safely return to the line-up.

The wings’ regular season ends on May 8, and Blashill believes it would take Bertuzzi at least a week to practice before he even thinks about playing again.

“We’re slowly running out of runways,” said Blashill, “whether there’s enough time on schedule.”

Baseball fans

All in all, the Wings probably didn’t mind being in warm, sunny South Florida compared to a snow-covered Detroit.

But it was opening day, and ice hockey players are like any other baseball fanatic so they missed a part of it.

“We will definitely review the results,” said defense attorney Jon Merrill.

Merrill, 28, grew up in Grand Blanc and was a die-hard baseball fan.

“I think as much as you can be as a hockey player,” Merrill said of his love for baseball in Detroit growing up. “I went to a few games as a kid, it was fun. They grew up in Michigan in the 2000s and had some good teams with good runs. “

Ice chips

Blashill said strikers Bobby Ryan and Sam Gagner would be available for a second straight game for Thursday, and each one stays day after day.

… Luke Glendening overtook Joe Kocur (545 games) as 39th in Red Wings history in games played.

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Twitter: @tkulfan

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Dusty Kennedy