After playing in 326 NHL regular season games, Boston Bruins winger Tyler Bertuzzi finally got to taste Stanley Cup Playoff hockey, and he didn’t disappoint.
Bertuzzi set up the first goal of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs for the Boston Bruins, and then helped seal the deal with another primary assist on the team’s third goal of the game in a 3-1 Game 1 win that put the Bruins up 1-0 in their best-of-7 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series with the Florida Panthers.
Bertuzzi delivered and absolute lay-up pass across the front of the net to Boston Bruins 60-goal sniper David Pastrnak for a 1-0 Bruins lead 5:58 into the game.
He then helped put the Bruins up by two goals when he got an assist on a greasy goal down low by winger Jake DeBrusk 17:32 into the middle frame.
After the game, Bertuzzi admitted there was that sort of first game – like when he was traded to the Boston Bruins at the NHLnTrade Deadline – fresh excitement as he finally got a taste of Stanley Cup Playoff excitement.
“It kinda felt like my first game as a Bruin all over again,” Bertuzzi said. “Got the first few shifts out of the way and went from there.”
That excitement is probably because his style of hockey seems like playoff hockey was his destiny.
“When we acquired him, we thought he was a guy that was made for the playoffs, and I thought his first shift, he laid out two huge hits and he just kept on making plays,” Boston Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery said in his postgame presser. “The puck seems to follow him, and he makes plays and makes real good decisions with it.”
Bertuzzi – who was drafted 58th overall by the Detroit red Wings in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft – is no stranger to shining when the games mean the most. He scored nine goals and ten assists in 19 games to lead the Grand Rapids Griffins to the 2017 Calder Cup Championship in the American Hockey league.
“I mean, he has made his career in those areas in junior hockey and the American League. You know, he was MVP of the playoffs in the American League, and this is his first opportunity to play in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and I think you can see that he’s a playoff performer,” Montgomery pointed out. “And that play on the power play goal… His hockey sense, he has real elite poise in and around the net. 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.”
This is such a good, reactionary pass from Bertuzzi to set up Pastrnak for the goal. The fact that he gets this pass off so quickly gives Pasta all the space to score. pic.twitter.com/5BqKgznnWL
— Shayna (@hayyyshayyy) April 17, 2023
Veteran Boston Bruins winger and alternate captain, Brad Marchand plays a similar style and was quite impressed with Bertuzzi’s playoff debut.
“He did great. He’s a competitor, and he battles extremely hard,” Marchand said. “I don’t think there’s any question marks about him. He’s won in the past. He was incredible in the Calder run that they had in Detroit. He’s just one of those guys that you hate to play against. He brings it every night. His compete level is through the roof. So, a guy that you knew was going to show up and be a playoff-type player, but he had a great game. So, it was great to see.”
If Bertuzzi goes on a run similar to the 2017 Calder Cup campaign he had, the Bruins will benefit and so will Bertuzzi, who can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.