This is pretty nasty, imho. Blaming the whole loss on Bertuzzi is kind of dim, considering the whole team disappeared in the third. We couldn't even get the puck out of our end, and it wasn't all Bertuzzi, by any stretch.
On the other hand, those were some dumb, ugly penalties he took, and he hasn't meshed on offense at all. Do you give up on him now, though? Or, do you let him struggle through it, get his legs and timing back, and possibly find some chemistry with whoever they put him with next?
I think the Wings will stick with him.
Message to Wings: Bench Bertuzzi
Tuesday, May 1, 2007
If crease-crashing winger Tomas Holmstrom can return to the Wings' lineup in Game 4 (as expected), coach Mike Babcock will have to take a forward out of the lineup.
Here's a suggestion: Scratch Todd Bertuzzi.
The former Canucks star has quietly been killing his new team with bad penalties, poor decisions and weak puck play.
In Monday night's Game 3 loss in San Jose, for example, Bertuzzi took an unbelievably bad (and obvious) elbowing penalty late in the second period, reaching out to deliver a blow to the head of Sharks forward Ryane Clowe. That penalty helped the Sharks keep the momentum going in their direction.
Later, in the third period, the Wings were down 2-1 with nearly seven minutes left in regulation time. They put together a couple of good shifts and were building some momentum as they pushed for the tying goal. Then, Bertuzzi, driving to the net with the puck, found it necessary to slue-foot San Jose defenseman Kyle McLaren. The refs spotted the obvious foul and sent Big Bert to the box for tripping with just 2:48 on the clock.
That penalty helped the Sharks close out the game. Afterward, in television interviews, goalie Dominik Hasek, captain Nicklas Lidstrom and winger Dan Cleary all talked about how penalties really hurt their team's flow and rhythm.
But Bertuzzi's bad penalties (he took two bad minors in Game 2, too) aren't the only way he's hurting his team. There are some subtleties in his game that are just as destructive to his team's chances of winning.
If you watch his shifts, he doesn't take hard, smart angles to the puck carrier. Instead, he swoops by, making it easy for an opponent to move the puck. In the playoffs, that just doesn't cut it. He's not pressuring the puck. He's not making it hard for those young Sharks defenders.
In the defensive zone, he too often fails to get the puck out of his zone cleanly. When you turn the puck over in your own zone, you put your team in a dangerous position. That often leads to a goal against or a penalty. If you're lucky enough to avoid either of those two fates, you still are scrambling rather than playing a cohesive game.
Bertuzzi's weak two-way game really saps the life out of the Wings' terrific puck-possession game. To back up that statement, I offer the following stat. In these playoffs, without Bertuzzi, the Wings are 2-0. Since he joined the lineup, they're just 3-4.
If Babcock wants to put his most competitive team on the ice for Wednesday's vital Game 4, he should make the bold move of putting Big Bert in the press box.
The Wings are better off without him.
Posted on May 1, 2007, 6:47 PM from IP address 126.96.36.199