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Is it time for the Leafs to give Tyler Bertuzzi a breather?

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Photo credit:John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Nick Alberga
2 months ago
To put it mildly, Tyler Bertuzzi is fighting it right now.
Incredibly, Auston Matthews has now scored 17 goals since Bertuzzi, a three-time 20-pus goal scorer, last tickled the twine for the Maple Leafs.
Think about that for a second.
Yes, Matthews is downright incredible, but unquestionably, that’s simply not good enough for a guy who’s making $5.5 million against the cap this season.
How bad is it, you ask? Super bad —and sadly, not the McLovin’ type either.
The 28-year-old’s goal drought has now reached an astonishing 19 games. On top of that, he’s scored just once in the past 30 contests.
Unfortunately, the winger’s offensive shortcomings have been negatively impacting all facets of his game. In fact, Bertuzzi didn’t take another shift against the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday night after he took an ill-advised o-zone tripping penalty in the late stages of the third period. Furthermore, he logged a season-low 10:55 in the 4-3 OT victory while registering just one shot on goal.

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Indisputably, sitting Bertuzzi for a game or two shouldn’t be out of the question for Sheldon Keefe and company. All things being equal, Saturday night’s tilt at home against the Anaheim Ducks could be a perfect spot to do it, too. If the Leafs can’t beat the cellar dwelling Ducks without Bertuzzi’s services, then they’ve got bigger issues to worry about it.
While plopping Bertuzzi in the press box for a game or two is far from ideal, it’s important for the Leafs to have the long-term focus in mind. If they’re going to do anything substantial this spring, it’s imperative to get Bertuzzi going. Over and above that, they need to continue instilling accountability across the organization. If you’re going to hold David Kampf accountable for his play the way they did a few weeks ago, rest assured, you better be treating Tyler Bertuzzi the same way.
Simply put, Bertuzzi hasn’t been scoring, he hasn’t been defending, he hasn’t been disciplined.
Three strikes and you’re out.
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