Red Wings promote Tyler Bertuzzi for grit, goals

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
Tyler Bertuzzi

Detroit – Looking for some grit and goal scoring, the Detroit Red Wings have promoted Tyler Bertuzzi from their AHL affiliate in Grand Rapids.

The Red Wings placed forward Thomas Vanek (muscle strain) on long-term injured reserve, retroactive to Oct. 25.

Bertuzzi will be in the lineup Tuesday when the Red Wings visit Philadelphia.

“It’s exciting, the first call-up (from the minors) for me. It’s a dream come true,” said Bertuzzi, the Red Wings’ 2013 second-round draft pick. “I’m excited to be here and show them what I got. I’m looking forward to it.”

Bertuzzi, 21, had four points (two goals, two assists) in nine games with the Griffins. He led the Griffins with 28 shots and had a plus-3 rating.

Bertuzzi supplies the Red Wings with tenacity and the ability to get to the net. Those are traits they’ve been lacking at times during the current five-game winless streak (0-4-1).

“When Tyler is playing his best, he’s on the puck a lot, he gets sticks on pucks and creates turnovers and he finds his way to the hard areas of the ice,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “He can shoot the puck from tight areas and finds ways to score in those tight areas, and he gets to the net hard.”

And getting to the net is something the Red Wings simply haven’t done well lately.

Anemic offense betrays Wings, losing skid at 5

“We need to do a better job of getting to the net-front and a better job of shooting the puck,” Blashill said. “He does those two things.”

Judging from Monday’s practice, Bertuzzi could be skating with Dylan Larkin and Frans Nielsen in an effort to spread and deepen the Red Wings’ lines.

“We brought him (Bertuzzi) here to get some significant minutes,” Blashill said.

Bertuzzi plays more of a gritty, hard-driving game than fellow prospect Anthony Mantha (seven goals in nine games in Grand Rapids), which likely gave Bertuzzi the edge right now.

“I’ve had conversations with everybody involved that’s watched both and they’re both playing excellent, real good hockey,” Blashill said. “We think both are real good prospects, and as we discussed after the game last night, we decided we’re going with Bert.

“But in my mind both are doing what they need to do to be ready for their opportunity.”

Bertuzzi is the nephew of former Red Wings power forward and NHL veteran Todd Bertuzzi.

The younger Bertuzzi said Todd called him while on the drive from Grand Rapids to Detroit.

“He said congratulations, make it worth your while, and have fun and enjoy it,” said Bertuzzi, who added his parents and younger brother will be in Philadelphia to watch his NHL debut.

Bertuzzi is looking to supply a boost for a lineup that needs some positive spark.

“I just want to bring energy, play my game, and keep doing what I do,” Bertuzzi said. “Bring energy, block shots and play good defensively.”

There were plenty of familiar faces as Bertuzzi scanned the Red Wings locker room Monday, many players who’ve been teammates on the Griffins the past couple seasons.

“It makes it more comfortable; they’re a great group of guys and very welcoming,” Bertuzzi said. “They’re excited to have me here and I’m excited to see them all.

“I was excited to get the call and I’m going to make the most I can out of this opportunity, and just try to do my best.”

Said Andreas Athanasiou, a former Griffins teammate: “He’s not afraid to mix it up. He has a lot of skill. He has touch around the net, too.”

As for Vanek, he’s not eligible to come off IR until Nov. 18, although he might not be ready by then.

The Red Wings last week estimated that Vanek would be out two to three weeks.

Vanek provided an offensive spark from the start of the season, with eight points (four goals, four assists) in seven games and the Red Wings have missed his presence around the net.

Red Wings at Flyers

Faceoff: Tuesday, 7 p.m., Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia.

TV / radio: Fox Sports Detroit / 97.1 FM.

Outlook: The Red Wings lost 4-3 in overtime last week, extending their losing streak in Philadelphia to 12 games over nearly 20 years. … C Henrik Zetterberg and D Niklas Kronwall didn’t practice Monday, but both are expected to play. … C Claude Giroux (14 points) and RW Jakub Voracek (13 points) are off to great starts for Philadelphia.

Twitter @tkulfan