Detroit — Don’t get him wrong, it’s great news to hear, a relief in some ways, but Tyler Bertuzzi isn’t going to change much of anything.
Getting told he’s staying with the Red Wings is a dream come true, but Bertuzzi is going to continue to take a workmanlike approach.
“Take it day by day and keep working hard,” Bertuzzi said after Wednesday’s morning skate.
Bertuzzi was recalled from Grand Rapids on Dec. 21 after Luke Glendening suffered a hand injury. When Bertuzzi was promoted, coach Jeff Blashill’s message to him was to give the Red Wings a reason to keep Bertuzzi around, to find a place for him on the NHL roster.
Bertuzzi has done so.
Heading into Wednesday’s game, Bertuzzi had three assists in the four games since being recalled, with an even plus-minus rating while playing over 14 minutes per game. Bertuzzi, arguably, had his best game Sunday against Pittsburgh, getting two assists in over 16 minutes against the Stanley Cup champions.
“Bert goes to the net hard, gets pucks out on the wall, and he’s smart enough to play with real good players,” Blashill said. “He’s a good piece.”
Playing on a line with Henrik Zetterberg and Gustav Nyquist the past several games has given Bertuzzi an opportunity to highlight his strengths.
Just getting a consistent opportunity to play, getting more minutes, has been a good feeling.
“I’m happy where I’m at, comfortable with the puck and not just throwing it away,” Bertuzzi said. “Playing with Henrik Zetterberg, I feel real good right now and, obviously, I’m happy where I am.
“It’s always going to be there (slight awe playing with Zetterberg). Just the way he handles himself on and off the ice.”
Bertuzzi appeared headed to making the Red Wings roster out of training camp, but a wrist injury dashed any chances of that. Bertuzzi returned to Grand Rapids, where he stayed until a one-game call-up in December when minor injuries hit, then went back to the Griffins wondering if there was going to be another opportunity this season.
The Glendening injury opened the door.
“You certainly get to a point where you think this is your time,” Blashill said. “I would believe that as a player. There’s probably sometimes you look and you know you’re coming up for a little bit and going back down (to the minors).
“That’s why I made a point to grab him right away and say ‘make us keep you’ because I wanted to make sure he knew that I didn’t want this to be a short-term thing.
“I wanted it to be a long-term thing. That’s one of the reasons why we were reticent to call him up earlier. We didn’t want it to be a roller coaster. I’m sure he senses that this is his opportunity and let’s grab it.”
The Red Wings have a five-day bye — as every team in the NHL does during the regular season — beginning Monday.
Before then, they close out this five-game homestand against three divisional opponents (Ottawa, Florida, Tampa Bay), so if there’s a chance to move up the standings, this is a good time to do it.
“When we came back from (Christmas) break we talked about the fact we had six games then going on another break, so let’s make sure sometimes the schedule can get long and you look out too far,” Blashill said. “I wanted to make sure we narrowed our focus to these games that are right in front of us.
“Certainly divisional games are big. Every game is big. We need to win, we need points and we need them now.”
Anthony Mantha (groin) returned to the lineup Wednesday after missing two games.
… The Red Wings hadn’t scored on the power play in the last four games entering Wednesday, and had gone 0-for-13 in that span.
“Our entries haven’t been as good the last four games,” Blashill said. “Entries and unforced errors. Those aren’t systematic issues. Sometimes we entered the zone, we had complete control of the puck, and we threw it away.
“You can’t do that. We did that too much early last season.”