GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Just two years into his pro career, Tyler Bertuzzi has already earned a strong reputation as a playoff performer.
“Any time that you’re noted as a playoff performer, that’s what everybody wants to hear,” said Todd Nelson, the head coach for the Grand Rapids Griffins.
“I like the playoffs,” he said. “It’s a gritty style of hockey and that’s the type of hockey I like to play. It’s do or die every night and I like to play that way and the puck just always seem to find my stick.”
Bertuzzi was a second-round draft pick of the Detroit Red Wings in 2013. He burst into the AHL playoffs in 2015 with seven goals and 12 points in just 14 games.
“The first year, he comes out of junior and almost leads our team in scoring as a point-a-game player,” Griffins captain Nathan Paetsch said. “That’s a special, unique skill set. A lot of guys tend to shy away in the playoffs and he steps it up more.”
Last season, Bertuzzi — known as Bert to his teammates — posted seven goals and eight points in just nine playoff games.
“Bert’s a really good player,” said fellow Griffins forward Mitch Callahan. “He thrives in these situations. He’s one of the kind of guys, he’s winner, you need a guy like him on your roster to win.”
In fact, with 20 points in just 23 games, Bertuzzi’s production in the postseason is more than double his regular-season average.
“They know what to expect from me,” he said. “They know that I’ll show up every night and work as hard as I can.”
His style, tenacity and physicality is a perfect match for the playoffs.
“You have to fight for every ounce of space,” head coach Nelson said. “Especially in front of the net, and Bert plays that style. He plays a noisy game and he goes to those tough areas and these are games where he shines.”
“I’ll do whatever it takes to get the win,” Bertuzzi said, “and I’ll show them again this playoff.”
The Griffins open the postseason Friday night against the Milwaukee Admirals at Van Andel Arena in downtown Grand Rapids.