The Boston Bruins' roster additions before the March 3 NHL trade deadline were made with an eye toward the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Bruins general manager Don Sweeney acquired top-four defenseman Dmitry Orlov, top-six forward Tyler Bertuzzi and bottom-six forward Garnet Hathaway to make his team deeper, tougher and more skilled.
"We have a lot of guys who are really hard to play against," Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery told reporters March 2 -- the same day the team traded for Bertuzzi. "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."
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Montgomery's words have proven accurate because all three of those players have played a major role in the Bruins taking a 3-1 lead in their first-round playoff series against the Florida Panthers.
Boston pushed Florida to the brink of elimination with a 6-2 victory in Game 4 at FLA Live Arena on Sunday afternoon.
Bertuzzi scored a goal and picked up an assist for his second two-point game of the series. He has six points (two goals, four assists) overall, including at least one point in each of the four games. His goal in Game 4 came on a tip in the third period that put the B's up 3-1.
Bertuzzi had never played in the playoffs before Game 1 of this series, but he did win the MVP of the 2017 Calder Cup Playoffs when Grand Rapids won an AHL championship. His style of play is perfectly suited for the playoffs. He goes to the dirty areas to win puck battles, he blocks shots and he contributes offensively by scoring goals and creating chances for teammates. Bertuzzi's assist in Game 4 gives him 10 helpers in his last eight games dating back to the regular season.
Orlov picked up an assist in Game 4. It was a great pass to set up Jake DeBrusk's power-play goal that gave Boston a 2-0 lead in the second period. He has tallied at least one assist in every game of the series, and his five total assists are tied for the second-most among all players in the postseason
Orlov is just the sixth defenseman since 1997 to notch a point in each of his first four playoff games with a franchise. He is aggressive in jumping into the attack and his passing/vision create a lot of quality scoring chances. He's also not fazed in any way by the pressure of the postseason. Orlov arrived in Boston with 73 games of playoff experience, including a Stanley Cup ring from the 2017-18 Washington Capitals.
"I think the swagger he has and the confidence he has, and then the compete -- he digs in," Montgomery told reporters after Game 4 when asked what he's seen from Orlov since the trade in February.
Hathaway has not tallied a point in this series, but the fourth-line right wing has made an impact in several other areas.
His 18 hits in four games are the second-most on the team and the most among forwards. Hathaway's eight blocked shots are the most among B's forwards. He also has played 1:03 per game on the penalty kill, a unit that has gone 9-for-10 against a Panthers power play that ranked 10th-best in the regular season.
The Bruins have won three of four games without their No. 1 center Patrice Bergeron. They've won the last two games without their No. 2 center David Krejci. There's no way the Bruins would have survived losing such important players in recent playoff runs, but 2023 is different because Sweeney built one of the deepest rosters in franchise history. And one of the main reasons why this roster is so deep has been the additions of Bertuzzi, Orlov and Hathaway.
Sweeney knew his team needed more toughness, skill and depth at the trade deadline and he aggressively pursued those players. So far, his moves have been a stroke of genius.