The traditional method of ranking individual player performance is usually some sort of “report card” or “A+” grading system. Not here. You see, we like to keep things simple at TPL. You either made the grade or you didn’t. No grey area. Black and white. This is “Pass/Fail.”
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(Ed. Note: I REALLY wanted Petrella to write this. No seriously. Can you imagine Petrella trying to type out what’s about to come across the screen? It’s pure deliciousness in thought alone. Imagine how excellent it would have been if it had come true. No matter…) Always the source of controversy around these parts, Todd Bertuzzi’s game was enough to quiet many of the skeptics around here. It’s taken some time, but Big Bert seems to have finally settled in to his niche in Detroit, and there was no bigger sign of that then his commitment to backchecking and defensive play this season. While it won’t show up in the stats, Bert’s dedication to the little things seemed to win over many of his doubters, especially coming off of an offseason that saw him get a raise that many felt he didn’t deserve. He also did his part on the scoresheet, tallying 45 points as a complimentary wing on the Datsyuk centered line. He’s learned to control his aggression on the ice without taking away his physicality, and his ability to use his body to shield the puck in the corners generated a number of scoring chances this season. He remained absolutely lethal in the shootout, using his “changeup” approach to keep the Wings relevant in the skills competition. Finally, with health always an issue for Todd, he missed only ONE game the entire regular and postseason combined.
Despite a refocused effort on solid defensive play, Bert still managed to post a less-than-flattering -7 rating during the regular season. As was the case for a number of his teammates, Todd was helped immensely when playing on a line featuring Pavel Datsyuk as the center. When he moved up and down the lineup and found himself playing more of a grinding role in front of the net, his production suffered and so did his decision making. The blind spin-o-rama pass seems to be here to stay, and while it worked on occasion, more times than not it the puck wound up outside the zone or on the stick of the opposition. Despite his offensive production, Bert was also incredibly streaky, which didn’t bode well during the trying months of the regular season campaign. No matter what he does, he’ll always have a target on his back when it comes to the officials, which proved costly on a few occasions this season.
The one moment that stands out among all the others with Bertuzzi was his two-fight night against Shane O’Brien of the Nashville Predators. With the Wings getting rolled 3-0 at the time, Bert brought the fists…and then brought the fists again, jump-starting the Wings on the way to a 4-3 win. The Joe was rocking a few weeks later against Phoenix when Bert dropped the gloves again, and for the first time in a long time the fans were chanting his name for a GOOD reason. Close second: Bert’s shootout goal that closed out Minnesota in his 1,000th NHL game.
Disch: No Vote
Disch: *Spin Class*
Petrella: You couldn’t have done this Pass/Fail series last year??! Damn… watch what happens – and all the haters take note – Michael Petrella gives Todd Bertuzzi a pass. I still don’t think he’s on the top half of the team in terms of “talent,” but there’s no denying that he’s finding a niche and contributing in the ways that he CAN. He still does dumbshit spin plays, but once in a while they go in. But he’s playing solid and forming chemistry with the right guys… good on him.
Hollis: I’m still stunned at Petrella’s reasoning. No matter. I truly think the Wings are better with Bertuzzi than without him, and he looks comfortable in his own skin now in Detroit. He’s no longer the major scoring threat he once was, but he’s still got enough in the tank to be crafty and dangerous. He’s heading into the last season on his contract, and I would really enjoy seeing him win a Cup in Detroit to help silence the doubters once and for all.
Final TPL Grade
Up Next: Jiri Hudler
6/7 :: Brian Rafalski (PASS)
6/7 :: Pavel Datsyuk (PASS)
6/6 :: Brad Stuart (PASS)
6/4 :: Henrik Zetterberg (PASS)
5/27 :: Jakub Kindl (SPLIT)
5/26 :: Darren Helm (PASS)
5/24 :: Niklas Kronwall (PASS)
5/23 :: Valtteri Filppula (PASS)