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Tyler Bertuzzi makes most of playoff debut

April 18, 2023, 1:50 PM ET [38 Comments]
Anthony Travalgia
Boston Bruins Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Getting the opportunity to play for a Stanley Cup is why all hockey players lace up their skates and put their bodies on the line for 82 grueling games.

All with the hopes of doing it at best, 16 more times.

Tyler Bertuzzi spent six full seasons in Detroit before being traded to the Bruins. In those six seasons not once did the Red Wings qualify for the playoffs.

Making his playoff debut Monday night against the Florida Panthers, Bertuzzi made sure to leave his fingerprints all over the Bruins 3-1 victory, giving themselves a 1-0 series lead.

“This is everyone’s dream when you get in the NHL to chase this trophy. You can’t take these moments for granted,” Bertuzzi said. “It was tough not being a part of it. Now I know what it really feels like to be a part of it. I never want to miss it now.”

Bertuzzi’s night got started on the right foot, sending a beautiful backhanded dish to David Pastrnak while on the power play, giving the Bruins the 1-0 lead.

Bertuzzi again would find his name in the assist column after Jake DeBrusk knocked home a puck that perfectly sat atop the pad of Panthers’ goalie Alex Lyon.

“On that play on the power-play goal, with his hockey sense, he has real elite poise in and around the net,” head coach Jim Montgomery said. “A lot of guys would have taken that and tried to stuff it in the net on the back-hand. And he just pops it over for an empty-net goal.”

Once the playoffs begin, the game intensifies, as does the physicality. It was clear from the start that Panthers game plan was to be as physical as possible with a skilled Bruins team.

From the start, Bertuzzi was ready to mirror that.

“When we acquired him we thought he was a guy who was made for the playoffs. And on his first shift, he laid out two huge hits and he kept making plays. The puck keeps following him, and he makes real good decisions with it,” Montgomery said.

“This is his first opportunity to play in the Stanley Cup playoffs, and I think you can see he’s a playoff performer.”

Physicality and sweet mitts are not all that Bertuzzi brought to the table on Monday, perfectly playing the role of agitator.

By the end of the series, it may be Bertuzzi that plays the role of series annoyance, a role often casted by Brad Marchand.

After Nick Cousins decided he was going to poke Bertuzzi in the ribs with his stick, Bertuzzi kindly ripped the stick out of Cousins’ hands and took it with him to the Bruins bench as his shift ended.

Having no further need with it, Bertuzzi destroyed the blade by jamming it into the foot of the Bruins bench.

“I mean, it’s playoffs. There’s gonna be some stupid things that happen,” Bertuzzi said with a smile. “And that was one of them.”

Bruins fans are smiling after Bertuzzi’s efforts in Game 1. Shift-after-shift Bertuzzi set up shop in front of the Panthers’ net.

In recent playoff losses, a true, net-front presence is something the Bruins have lacked.

Bertuzzi instantly changes that.

“He’s just one of those guys you hate to play against,” Marchand said. “He just brings it every night. His compete level is through the roof.”

Bertuzzi skated on a line with David Krejci and David Pastrnak and although the lines five-on-five numbers were a bit scary, (36.67 CF %, 25.00 SF %, 36.36 SCF %) the chemistry between Bertuzzi and Pastrnak was evident.

Evident enough that when Patrice Bergeron returns to the Bruins’ lineup, Bertuzzi deserves another go with Krejci and Pastrnak.

“It took a few shifts to get into it, but it felt good,” Bertuzzi said.
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