Thursday, March 22, 2007

Bertuzzi set to make Detroit debut

James, you've said surprising little about Bertuzzi coming back from injury tonight with Detroit. Is this only a story to the Detroiters?
What a strange and winding road Todd Bertuzzi has been on since mugging Steve Moore a little more than three years ago.

Sitting out through the lockout. Returning for a distraction-filled, mediocre campaign in Vancouver. An off-season trade to a hockey wasteland in the summer that ended seven games in when a debilitating back problem required surgery.

And now, finally, the denouement: a nine-game integration into one of the best line-ups in the league just in time for the postseason (a place Bertuzzi has spent a scant 24 games over an 11-year career).

Is it only a story to those in Detroit? No. But it's also not likely to be an acquisition that will have any more of an impact than that of Kyle Calder by those same Red Wings.

A best-case scenario for Bertuzzi is that he becomes a cog in the winged wheel, a bit player who can chip in with flashes of both parts offence and brute force. Production wise, he has been essentially a 20-goal scorer since 2002-03 — although he is just 32 years old.

What he hasn't been is particularly motivated, which makes the worst-case scenario — an unproductive fade into the background mixed in with a few bad penalties and muted excuses — seem rather likely, at least from where I sit.
"I’ve basically had two lockout years in three years," Bertuzzi said. "It’s been tough but I worked hard. I think the mental part is done now."
My guess is the Red Wings bow out in the second (or maybe third) round and we hear scantly a peep from Big Bert. Let's say he nets five goals and 13 points in those 20+ games, figures that will undoubtedly land him a bulky long-term deal with one of the league's perennial also-rans this summer.

Given he's a FOG, Phoenix seems like a good fit.

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At 6:55 PM, March 22, 2007, Blogger Nick said...

James, you're probably right on just about everything there... The only thing I'm sure of is that it will be an interesting night.

I'm still not sure what to think of Todd Bertuzzi as a Red Wing. Maybe he'll flourish since no one is relying on him to be a huge piece of the playoff puzzle, or maybe he'll stink up the place since he's recovering from surgery and got more credit in Vancouver than he deserved.

Time will tell, but at least it will be fun to watch.

At 5:53 AM, March 23, 2007, Blogger Luke said...

Hmm... played on the top line, had over 3 minutes of PP time and not a single shot on a goal in the game. And he took an interference penalty. Welcome back, Bertuzzi.

At 11:02 AM, March 23, 2007, Blogger Nick said...

Yea, player of the night was Sergei Fedorov. He's still getting booed every time he touches the puck. I was as unhappy as anyone that he left like he did, but when is Detroit going to start cutting him some slack? If they retire his jersey, are people in detroit going to boo at that? Come on...

I knew as soon as he stepped onto the ice during the shootout that he was going to end it. I'm a bit surprised he didn't shoot earlier

At 11:48 AM, March 23, 2007, Anonymous snafu said...

Just wanted to go on record that I disagree completely, totally, 100% (more if that were mathematically possible), 180 degrees with James position... regarding Bert. I guess we won't know who is right for a few more weeks. Also, using anything less than a Cup victory or final round as the metric for Bert is a bit unfair. A lot of great teams have NOT won the Cup, especially if all the pundits are right about how random it has become.

BTW, the crowd loved him and there was an extra buzz in the Joe. Thought you'd want to hear it from an eye witness.

At 11:52 AM, March 23, 2007, Blogger Kel said...

I didn't watch the game, but it's no surprise that he gets no shot on goal during the 3 minutes of PP time. My guess is that his job is to stand in front of the net. He'd only get a SOG if there's a rebound or a tip, or some great passer was able to feed him the puck, but that play is pretty much dead these days. No PK unit is going to allow a pass to someone screening the goalie, especially now that pushing the defender off could give you a penalty.

At 12:02 PM, March 23, 2007, Blogger Nick said...

It's too early to tell, he looked stiff... He looked like he hasn't played since october.

At 12:43 PM, March 23, 2007, Blogger James Mirtle said...

Also, using anything less than a Cup victory or final round as the metric for Bert is a bit unfair. A lot of great teams have NOT won the Cup, especially if all the pundits are right about how random it has become.

I'm not using it as the metric for Bert; I'm merely saying that the Red Wings probably won't win the Cup and Bertuzzi won't be a factor. Heck, even if they do win it, I doubt he's a factor — but if that happens, no one will lament his acquisition.

I've watched Bert closely for the last decade, first as a Canucks fan and then now as he's punted around the league. He just hasn't played with the fire he had in his two great seasons.

I bet he retires without ever posting 80 points again.

At 1:43 PM, March 23, 2007, Anonymous snafu said...

I'll agree he won't be the player he once was, with age and 'other' factors slowing him down. However, I don't expect him to be that good, and I don't think the Wings do either. He can be very good in Detroit because I think his skills and ability to think/change on the fly are underestimated by some.

I also think the pressure in Vancouver was too great following the implementation of the new CBA, right on the heels of his return from the suspension. Consider how much changed in Vancouver (payroll, GM, roster, and injuries under a low cap) but what did not change was fan - and perhaps even media - expectation. With the Canucks, Bert and Naslund were the "go to" guys. At the very least, Detroit offers him some space because that burden will be shared with the likes of Lidstrom, Datsyuk, Zetterberg. You throw in some of the other war-hardened veterans of post-season play (Chelios, Schneider, Maltby, Draper, Hasek, Osgood, etc.) and I cannot think of a better place for Bert to land and recuperate. I also believe the welcome he is getting in Detroit can only help him psychologically. A traditional market with its own bloodied history may just find it in their hearts to give Bert a second chance. People are wearing Bertuzzi jerseys already. He had one play where he went hard to the net, and the Joe Louis crowd practically gave him a standing ovation.

I also think some fans might underestimate how good Datsyuk and/or Zetterberg can be with the right type of player on their wing. I think both of these guys have been carrying some of the lesser skilled, lesser scoring potential types for some time now. If Shanahan can garner 40 G as his career waned, why shouldn't a 33 year old Bertuzzi be able to do better than 20? Samuelsson and Holmstrom are 20 G scorers when they play with Dastyuk and Zetterberg.

As for the Wings overall chances in the playoffs? Who knows really. If all teams are healthy and all pistons are firing, I like the Sharks and/or Ducks chances out of the West. However I often fail miserably in my post-season predictions, never expecting 8th seeds to go to game 7 of the Cup, so... now I'll stop typing. :)

At 6:09 PM, March 23, 2007, Blogger Nick said...

It seems like trying to predict the playoffs recently has been like betting on roulette. Edmonton vs. Carolina? wtf?

btw, that Phoenix comment was a bit cynical, James :)

At 6:26 PM, March 23, 2007, Blogger JavaGeek said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 6:31 PM, March 23, 2007, Blogger JavaGeek said...

Sorry, I had a dead link. This is fixed.
A few reminders:
Game #266 (2005-2006)
Game #661 (2005-2006)
Game #1082 (2002-2003)
Bertuzzi upstages Bure

For a player with as few goals as Bertuzzi, he has quite a few hat tricks (5), which says one of two things:
1. This guys either one or off, and when he's on he's amazing!
2. He's had a very lucky career so far.

Most people seem to write as if he's #2, when most people who've watched him know he works like a light switch and no one wants to play against him when the switch is on! If (that's the big part) he gets going he could be the most dominant player in the playoffs, otherwise he'll stand in front of the net and contribute a few points...

Bertuzzi is one of the most unpredictable players in the NHL and Detroit is probably the team that can afford the risk the most. If he gets going they're almost guaranteed a cup and if he just mopes in front of the net he probably wont cost them any games.

At 6:52 PM, March 23, 2007, Blogger James Mirtle said...

Heh, guaranteed a Cup... I don't think so.

Bertuzzi is overrated because, as you say, he's turned on so sporadically.

At 1:53 PM, March 24, 2007, Anonymous Frank said...

Bertuzzi is a huge defensive liability, and Detroit fans will quickly "fall out of love" with this guy when he costs them some key games in the playoffs.

In his last year with Vancouver he was a minus 17. Everyone points to the 7 points he got with Florida in the first 7 games this year (1 goal, 6 assists)but fail to mention he was a minus 4 in the 7 games and took 7 minor penalties.

Bertuzzi can't and won't back check and instead hooks and holds his oppent. He wasn't able to adjust to the new rules and picked up a ton of minor penalties in the first year of the new rules, and continued this parade to the penalty box in his first 7 games of this year with Florida.

Bertuzzi refuses to get back to his own zone to support his defence and instead just circles around the neutral zone waiting for an outlet pass.

On the power play he does do a good job of getting in front of the net, but he continually interferes with the defenseman to free him self up and usually draws a penalty taking his team off the powerplay.

When the coaching staff start to hold him acoountable for his defensive play, he will go into one of his "sulks" and not perform offensively.

I guarantee that Bertuzzi and Chelios will have a "big blowup" over Bertuzzi's defensive play before the playoffs end and Bertuzzi will end up riding the pine.


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