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Tyler Bertuzzi, who scored twice in the 4-3 win over Detroit vs. St. Louis, is an integral part of Red Wings' rebuilding. Filmed November 28, 2018 in Detroit.
Helene St. James, Detroit Free Press

Niklas Kronwall reflects and laughs.

Tyler Bertuzzi has a way of doing things Detroit The Red Wings smile, whether it's his wide-toothed smile and his long hair or the way he seems drawn to his opponent's net. His willingness to go into difficult areas on the ice, his talent to finish the games, make him an essential part of the team's success, whether it be short or long term.

The Wings won their last match with two goals from Bertuzzi, both close to the Blues net in Wednesday's 4-3 final at Little Caesars Arena. Bertuzzi has eight goals in 25 games.

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"He has been a real performer," said coach Jeff Blashill. "For me, it's a winning hockey player: it's easy to judge guys on stats, but some guys score and lose a lot. Some produce enough and earn tons. For me, it's a winning hockey player. He does all he needs to win: he plays on the right side of the puck, he plays well, he blocks the shots. He wins battles batting. The game is always about winning one-on-one battles and it does it all the time. I am a big fan. I think he had a good year.

Bertuzzi, 23, has already surpassed the seven goals that he produced last season in 48 games. He is stubborn and does not let the biggest opponents prevent him from going to the net.

"I've been like this all my life," Bertuzzi said. "As you get into the leagues, it's getting harder and harder to slip or drag, so I adapted to play hard, to go to the net. This is where many goals are created. "

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Bertuzzi ensured that the Wings would have no reason to send him back to the miners in the second half of last season.

"I just wanted to come here and work hard every day," Bertuzzi said. "I think Blash is a great guy who works hard, so I just came to do my thing every day, I worked hard. I just wanted to do a job for myself and I did it. "

Bertuzzi's role expanded after the Wings traded Tomas Tatar, opening a top-six spot. Bertuzzi caught him in a few weeks.

"We knew that when we were trading Tats, we were trading a good player, and Tats proved it with Montreal," Blashill said. "But we also had the impression that we had a guy at Bert who, if he had similar minutes, could produce a similar level and bring some elements to the team.

"I like him as a player. He is in competition. Mark Howe told me, he's one of those guys, he's not just working, he's competing. He finds a way to win pucks and gets some puck on the puck. We are talking about stalking in the o-zone and tracking down the failure before and that's what he does, then he goes to the net and he's really good around the net. "

As the Wings straightened after a 1-7-2 start, Blashill pointed out how the team did better in front of their opponents' net thanks to guys like Bertuzzi, Michael Rasmussen, Luke Glendening, Darren Helm and Justin. Abdelkader. Wednesday's game saw Bertuzzi raise the score to 3-0, marking the rebound of Glendening. He scores the winning goal with a rebound from the goal side.

"He's just fine," said Thomas Vanek. "He has a ton of energy, he's not afraid to be in front of the net, in the corner, and finds the puck. Many of his goals, he finds the puck around the net pretty quickly and ranks it. "

Kronwall noted that Bertuzzi was traveling to difficult areas and that he "wins every battles battles. He does not lose a lot of 50-50 battles every night. It's good to see him rewarded. "

Bertuzzi's two-goal performance came the same evening as his player's head was given to a selection of fans. Bertuzzi joked that he would give one to his uncle, former Wings forward Todd Bertuzzi. Three months after the Wings recruited Tyler Bertuzzi to 58th overall in 2013, they were both at the training camp together.

It was memorable for Kronwall.

"A young Bert," said Kronwall, smiling, "with the big Bert here. You see Bert come in with his long hair and his tape everywhere. It was something different, that's for sure. But as soon as we saw him play and train, he was so good with his stick. Very, very smart player. "

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Contact Helene St. James: hstjames@freepress.com. Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames.

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