Bertuzzi: A Threat Nobody is Worried About
It's no secret to anyone who follows the Red Wings: they're a great team with a lot of talent.
It's also to nobody's surprise that this talented team is having a near-stellar season up to this point. The team's Thursday night victory over Phoenix sent them to the top spot in the division, conference and League.
Aside from the stellar performances by Jimmy Howard and Pavel Datsyuk, who else should other teams be concerned about when facing Detroit? The easy answer is everybody not named Jonathan Ericsson, but the player of interest for this feature is Todd Bertuzzi.
Big Bert, as fans and players know him, is far past his most productive seasons in the NHL, during which he was playing with Vancouver. He is also the third oldest player (36) on the Red Wings, behind Nicklas Lidstrom (41) and Tomas Holmstrom (38). But as Detroit has proven with each season since the departure of Steve Yzerman, age is nothing but a number.
That speaks volumes when examining what Bertuzzi does well. To start, this season has seen him perform under clutch situations, specifically in shootouts. Every great team has a guy who comes through in high-stakes moments. And while the fan favorite across the board might be Pavel Datsyuk, whom opposing teams still don't know how to stop, it is safe to say that Bertuzzi has made this his season to put the team on his back when the odds are against them.
"Big Bert, when you see him shoot the puck like that you wonder why he doesn't shoot it all the time," said Mike Babcock after the victory in Phoenix on Thursday. "He likes to pass...I thought he was really effective, really skated well and that's what's important for us."
Coach Babcock said it perfectly: effective.
With 10 goals and 14 assists this season, Bertuzzi on paper may not seem like the first player to worry about for opposing teams. But with a +23 this season, it is clear that Bertuzzi's presence is a difference maker for Detroit. And that's what makes him a real threat for opponents. Combined with how well he can actually shoot the puck, the Wings could very well start to make it a habit for him to get more scoring opportunities. With a roster that includes Datsyuk, Filppula and Franzen, that move would send every other team back to the drawing board.
With the Wings currently sitting on top of the NHL, after some great contribution from Bertuzzi in the recent stretch, it is safe to say that Babcock is looking at the trend and adjusting his play book accordingly. Bertuzzi is not going to emerge and take the leadership role from Lidstrom, but as a seasoned veteran with many tricks left up his sleeve, the team should capitalize on the opportunity to get even more production from him.