Matt Bartkowski isn’t the first to play the waiting game.
After proving himself capable of being a top-four NHL  defenseman last postseason, Bartkowski has been the victim of a numbers game. With all of Boston’s blueliners healthy, it’s essentially down to Bartkowski and Torey Krug for the team’s third-pairing left defenseman. Krug is too valuable to the power play to sit, so for the first two games, Bartkowski’s worn a suit rather than a uniform.
Adam McQuaid knows exactly what that’s like.
McQuaid had played 19 games for in the 2009-10 season (Bartkowski played 11 last year) before playing nine games in the postseason (Bartkowski got in five games this past spring), but when the B’s began the 2010-11 season as the team’s seventh defenseman. To keep sane amidst the his time out of game action, the then-23-turned-24-year-old picked the brain of Johnny Boychuk , who had been through it before. As such, he hopes he can be of help to Bartkowski.
“I know what it’s like to be in that position,” McQuaid said. “When I went through it, I talked to Johnny Boychuk  about it, and there’s always that kind of progression where the next guy can talk to you. If I’m lucky enough to be in a position where guys are comfortable [enough] to talk to me, and want to talk to me about different stuff, I’m happy to do so.”
As it turned out, it took an injury to Boychuk for McQuaid to get his chance. A Boychuk arm injury in late October allowed McQuaid to get into 10 games. Later in the season, McQuaid made enough of a case for himself while Mark Stuart  was out with a hand injury that the B’s opted to keep McQuaid in the lineup and trade Stuart in the Rich Peverley  deal.
The lesson? Don’t get down just because you’re not playing. Injuries happen and everyone gets their shot. The Bruins already have a case of it this year with Jordan Caron, who has in all likelihood turned Carl Soderberg into the team’s extra forward once Soderberg returns from his ankle injury.
“You never know what can happen,” McQuaid said. “The tough thing about it is that a lot of times it’s an injury and you don’t want to see a teammate and a friend get injured in order for yourself to get an opportunity. You just have to stay prepared. Practicing hard, and when you’re at the games, paying attention. Just being ready when you have the opportunity because you definitely want to make the most of it.”
McQuaid sat for the first six games in the 2010-11 season before Boychuk’s injury opened the door for him. Claude Julien  has said that the wait won’t be too long for Bartkowski. Whether Krug, Dougie Hamilton or someone else sits, the B’s are going to get him into a game.
“I’ll be very honest — he’s not going to sit up there for a month,” Julien said Tuesday. “That’s not going to happen. We’ve got some good players that need to play. Especially early in the year, you’ve got to give those guys opportunities to play. When that’s going to happen, I’m not sure yet, but certainly don’t expect to see him in the stands for a whole month.”