SUN Hockey Pool

Bertuzzi getting no breaks

STEVE MACFARLANE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:11 AM ET

Watching Todd Bertuzzi get mugged by Alexandre Burrows Tuesday night, you couldn't help but feel bad for the Calgary Flames winger.

Pushed, whacked and prodded by the Vancouver Canucks' agitator into he bench, Bertuzzi tried to be the better man and get back into the play.

Jabbed some more, he looked pleadingly for a man in stripes who would see the abuse and make a call.

None came, and Bertuzzi finally had enough. He poked back and took a coincidental roughing minor with Burrows.

Quickly jumping on the big Flames winger as a fight was about to break out, Shane O'Brien took an extra penalty for the Canucks.

In a way, justice was served.

But you have to wonder if Bertuzzi's reputation stemming from the Steve Moore incident in 2004 isn't affecting the way officials call the game.

The man himself knows better than to get involved in that kind of debate, but there are definitely no breaks about to go Bertuzzi's way when it comes to the refs.

"Well, you know what, he's a big brute," said Flames defenceman Adrian Aucoin.

"He's obviously a marked man.

"I'm not complaining about the officiating, but he's got a reputation and obviously he's got to be careful out there. It's got to be an obvious penalty to go the other way on him."

It doesn't get much more obvious than the treatment he endured at the hands of Burrows.

Admittedly, the 6-foot-3, 230-lb. Bertuzzi doesn't help his cause by taking deserved and thoughtless penalties of his own way too often.

After going nine games without so much as a minor infraction in early December, Bertuzzi has taken PIMs in 13 of the last 22 contests.

They've given other teams momentum early in games and stolen wind out of the Flames' sails late in contests, too.

Maybe more of a concern to the Flames faithful are the giveaways they see going the other way for a golden scoring chance on goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff.

They scream when a goal is the result.

You can bet there were some harsh words thrown at a few television sets Tuesday night when Bertuzzi's lack of concentration when trying to corral a loose puck with his skates ended up on Ryan Kesler's stick for a shorthanded goal for the Canucks with 15.6 seconds to play in the first period.

Bertuzzi wasn't credited with a giveaway on that play, but he is among the league-leaders in that category. Worst on the Flames roster with 55 cough-ups, Bertuzzi sits 17th in the league.

His minus-12 rating is worse than all but about 30 guys around the NHL.

But his offensive production is pretty impressive for the 34-year-old from Sudbury, Ont.

Few predicted his 41 points (14 goals, 27 assists) in 52 games -- already more than he achieved with the Anaheim Ducks in 68 outings last season.

That's Todd Bertuzzi. It'll always be a love/hate relationship.

You'll love his fancy passes and point production in a win, and despise the ones that don't work (the turnovers) and every bad penalty he takes in a loss.

As for the refs, they rarely show him any love.

Whether it's because of his reputation or his size.

"I feel like he gets hooked or held a lot, and because he's so strong, they don't really call penalties on him," said teammate Michael Cammalleri, who admits there is a chance his reputation comes into play.

"I don't know, maybe, but I think the main reason for it is how big and strong he is. When a guy maybe gets hooked, he stops skating. Or if he's tripped, he falls. Bert just barrels through that stuff. Even though they're using their sticks, the refs don't feel they have to call it."

And if they don't feel they have to make a call, they won't -- especially when the guy on the receiving end is Bertuzzi.


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