Detroit Red Wings forward Tyler Bertuzzi is slowly but surely beginning to make a name for himself amongst the fans in the Motor City, and he's aiming to remind fans of his uncle, former Red Wing Todd Bertuzzi.
With eight points in his past nine games and four in the past two (1 goal, 3 assists), he's demonstrating to Detroit's brass that he's able to provide more than just physical play and grinding, and that he's earning his place in the lineup. He scored his first NHL goal in Sunday's 4-0 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks.
The team knew they'd be getting someone who knows how to put up points, as Bertuzzi is currently the reigning Jack A. Butterfield Trophy winner as the American Hockey League's playoff MVP.
Head coach Jeff Blashill has noticed the impact that Bertuzzi has had on the team, and the importance of having the grinding mentality that he brings night in and night out.
“The one thing with Bert is, against a team that defends well, that protects the ice well, that makes it hard to get to their net, you need guys like him and that's why he's always been a good performer”, said Blashill.
“I think when a game's wide open, you don't notice him as much. But when the game's a hard grind, you notice him more and certainly he makes tons of little plays. He's just got real good hockey smarts and poise with a real hard approach and that's a special combination, and a combination that's transferable to successful hockey.”
Following the injuries to forwards Justin Abdelkader and Darren Helm on Saturday against Pittsburgh, Blashill mixed up his forward lines, and Bertuzzi soon found himself on a line with fellow young forwards Dylan Larkin and Andreas Athanasiou. Prior to that, he'd been playing alongside Gus Nyquist and Henrik Zetterberg. However, the transition to different linemates has been a smooth one.
“I'm just getting more used to it every game,” Bertuzzi said. “Playing with Larks (Larkin) and AA (Athanasiou) it's pretty easy on me. AA, he doesn't cheat, but he's smart when he blows the zone, and if I can just get it off the glass, they're going to have a footrace.”
“I think in development camp and playing the prospects tournament for so many years you kind of develop that (chemistry), and that comes back quick when you play with them,” Athanasiou said.
Bertuzzi and the Red Wings will look to bounce back from Tuesday's 4-2 defeat to the Dallas Stars when they host the Carolina Hurricanes at Little Caesars Arena on Saturday at 7:00 PM (Fox Sports Detroit). Neither Abdelkader or Helm are expected to return from their injuries by then.