The Stanley Cup Playoffs are an absolute grind.
Four rounds and two-plus months of pure physical and emotional exhaustion -- all to win the best trophy in sports. Skill and experience are very important factors in being the last team standing, but there's more to winning a championship than those two elements.
You need toughness. You need an edge. You need guys who frustrate the heck out of opponents and knock them off their game.
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The Boston Bruins already had some of those qualities on their roster entering the 2022-23 season, but they added a lot more over the last week with the acquisitions of defenseman Dmitry Orlov and bottom-six forwards Garnet Hathaway and Tyler Bertuzzi.
"We have a lot of guys who are really hard to play against," Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery told reporters Thursday. "Which makes it -- we're going to be a tough out in the playoffs because we have a lot of players who go to areas where you score goals in the playoffs. And (Don) Sweeney added another one with Bertuzzi."
Bertuzzi was acquired from the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday in exchange for a 2024 first-round pick (top-10 protected) and a 2025 fourth-round pick. The 28-year-old left wing has tallied 14 points (four goals, 10 assists) in 29 games this season. He scored a career-high 30 goals in 68 games last season. Bertuzzi should be an excellent fill-in at left wing for the injured Taylor Hall (placed on LTIR) or Nick Foligno (placed on IR) on the third/fourth lines.
The former Red Wings winger is a skilled playmaker, but he also is a great pest. He annoys opponents to no end, and Bruins fans might remember when he caused a near-brawl to erupt during a Dec. 1, 2018 game between the B's and Red Wings at TD Garden. Bertuzzi and Bruins forward Brad Marchand exchanged trash talk and then a few fights broke out.
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Marchand loves the addition of Bertuzzi and what he brings to the ice.
"Just the depth that he brings. He has a playoff style," Marchand told reporters Thursday. "He plays very, very hard. He's skilled. He's gritty. He gets inside. He hasn't won in the NHL, but he's won a Calder Cup. I think he might've been the MVP of that. So he shows up big when it matters. He's just one of those guys you hate to play against, and come playoff time it's huge to have guys like that. The extra depth that it gives our group is incredible. He can play anywhere in the lineup. He's just one of those guys that makes it hard (for opponents) out there."
Between Bertuzzi, Hathaway, Orlov, Marchand, Trent Frederic, Connor Clifton and others, the Bruins are going to be a real handful in the playoffs from a physicality standpoint. These guys, as Montgomery noted above, will go to the dirty areas of the ice to win puck battles and score the greasy goals that are so pivotal in playoff games.
Bertuzzi doesn't shy away from putting his body on the line to help the team. One great example came last season when the Red Wings played the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Red Wings had their goalie pulled while trailing 6-4 with less than 30 seconds on the clock and Bertuzzi threw himself into the empty net to block two shots.
In addition to the truculence the Bruins have added to their roster over the last week, it's important to remember this team ranks No. 2 in goals scored, No. 1 in goals against, No. 8 on the power play, No. 1 on the penalty kill and No. 1 in save percentage. With plenty of high-end skill, strong depth, lots of playoff experience and improved toughness, the Bruins have as strong a mix of skills as you could possibly want for the postseason.
Bruins general manager Don Sweeney has done a fantastic job shoring up the weak spots on his roster and adding the experience/toughness needed to make a deep playoff run. As it stands now, the Bruins have more depth at key positions than they've had in a long time.
"They've obviously shown they have a ton of faith (in us)," Marchand said of the front office. "They kind of have an all-in approach with the moves that they've made and how they want to improve the group, and the depth they've added. It does fall within the group here now. They did their job. We have to do our jobs now."