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Matt Bartkowski: ‘I know when I play well; I know when I play bad’ 05.10.14 at 12:22 am ET
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Matt Bartkowski

Matt Bartkowski

If the Bruins advance past this round, the chatter about Dennis Seidenberg will inevitably grow louder and louder. Until Seidenberg does come back — if that ever happens this postseason — the Bruins will make due with either Matt Bartkowski or Andrej Meszaros in their lineup. Both have been given their shot at points this postseason, and both have struggled to establish a stranglehold on the position.

All things considered, Bartkowski is a superior player to Meszaros. He skates better and he’s stronger, but he’s struggled since returning to the lineup after missing the first two games of the first round with the flu.

Bartkowski had rough showings in Games 4 and 5 of that series, and a Game 1 performance against the Canadiens that saw him take two penalties (the first of which was on a Dale Weise dive, the second of which was a penalty he took in double overtime), Claude Julien opted to play Meszaros over him in Games 2 and 3. Meszaros predictably struggled and saw a blocked shot of his end up going the other way for the game-winning goal in Game 3, so Bartkowski was put back in for Thursday’s Game 4.

Back and forth, in and out, and still looking to regain the form he had before he was sick. Despite being the class clown of Boston’s blueline when it comes to his sense of humor, Bartkowski is generally pretty blunt when it comes to assessing his work. As such, he doesn’t fret about whether he’ll be in the lineup from game to game.

“I mean, I kind of know if I’m going to be in or not,” Bartkowski said. “I know when I play well; I know when I play bad.”

So what did he think of Game 1?

“I don’t know,” he said. “I don’t even remember, to be honest.”

Earlier in the week, Peter Chiarelli suggested that Bartkowski had “got out of sync a little bit” after returning from the flu, but the player says he doesn’t want to use his early postseason illness as an excuse for his play of late. Since he’s been in, Bartowski said, he’s been fine physically.

“I just wasn’t playing to my potential,” he said of his play.

If he’s OK physically, he still needs to bring a sharper game to the ice. He’s been caught out of position and he’s struggled to knock guys off of pucks. At points, Bartkowski’s been more prone to taking himself out of the play than the player he’s defending.

Though neither he nor Meszaros are slam-dunks, it’s worth remembering that Bartkowski was a hesitant player early on in his NHL career because he didn’t want to make mistakes in his brief NHL stints. Knowing a bad performance means a trip to the press box might add some of those jitters Bartkowski used to face. Then again, it’s been three seasons since he’s gotten his first taste of the NHL and he has since established himself as someone who would be a regular NHL blueliner on most teams, so there’s a good enough chance he’s outgrown all of that.

Remember, it was just a year ago that Bartkowski had scored in Game 7 of the first round and went on to perform well in the second round against the Rangers with Boston’s blue line banged up. Bartkowski has shown in the past that he can play in the postseason, but the Bruins could use a reminder.

Read More: Andrej Meszaros, Johnny Boychuk, Matt Bartkowski,
Matt Fraser the OT hero as Bruins even series 05.08.14 at 10:33 pm ET
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Matt Fraser

Matt Fraser

MONTREAL — Matt Fraser proved Claude Julien right for putting him in the lineup, as he scored the only goal of Game 4 to help the Bruins even their second-round series against the Canadiens with a 1-0 overtime win Thursday at the Bell Centre.

Tuukka Rask outdueled Carey Price for the Boston goaltender’s second shutout of the postseason.

Despite struggling to find space and going 0-for-2 on the power play, the Bruins got their chances throughout the night, but continued to hit posts. Carl Soderberg and Reilly Smith both fell victim to the iron, with Soderberg hitting the crossbar at the end of the first period and Smith hitting the left post during Boston’s third-period power play.

In the lineup for the B’s were Matt Bartowski and Fraser, the latter of whom was recalled on Wednesday and skated on Boston’s third line. Jordan Caron and Andrej Meszaros were both healthy scratches after playing Game 3.

Game 5 will be played Saturday night at TD Garden.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

– Rask was big for the Bruins through the first two periods. The Vezina favorite was particularly cruel to Michael Bournvial, who had numerous chances Thursday. Bournival’s best bid came in the first period off a Brad Marchand turnover in the Bruins zone, but Rask stopped that, as well as a shot from the Montreal forward in the second period and a high shot in the third.

That wasn’t all. After the Bruins dominated the first five minutes of the second period, the B’s netminder came up with a big save on a Lars Eller tip. Later in that shift, Brian Gionta missed the puck on the doorstep off a rebound of an Eller shot. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Matt Fraser,
Matt Bartkowski, Matt Fraser in Bruins lineup for Game 4 vs. Canadiens 05.08.14 at 7:27 pm ET
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MONTREAL – Matt Bartkowski is back in the lineup for Game 4 of the second round against the Canadiens. Andrej Meszaros was made a healthy scratch after he played in place of Bartkowski in Games 2 and 3.

Matt Fraser also entered the lineup after being recalled Wednesday night. He skated on the third line in warmups, with Daniel Paille moving back to the Merlot Line. Jordan Caron is a healthy scratch. The anticipated lineup is as follows:

Lucic – Krejci – Iginla
Marchand – Bergeron – Smith
Fraser – Soderberg – Eriksson
Paille – Campbell – Thornton

Chara – Hamilton
Bartkowski – Boychuk
Krug – Miller

Rask

For more Bruins coverage, visit weei.com/bruins.

Read More: Matt Bartkowski, Matt Fraser,
Matt Fraser hopes to make most of his shot in playoffs 05.08.14 at 2:16 pm ET
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Matt Fraser

Matt Fraser

MONTREAL — Last postseason, the Bruins got their money’s worth on a couple of call-ups from Providence during the playoffs, as Matt Bartkowski and Torey Krug solidified themselves as NHL players after starting the postseason with Providence. Matt Fraser can only hope he has the same experience now.

Recalled Wednesday night, Fraser could get his first taste of the NHL playoffs as early as Thursday night’s Game 4 against the Canadiens. A left wing with a terrific shot, Fraser spent most of his first season in the Bruins organization (he joined the Stars as an undrafted free went in 2011 and was traded to Boston in the Tyler Seguin deal) in Providence. He played 14 games for Boston this year after getting 12 NHL games in last season with the Stars, and after plenty of success at the AHL level (he had 70 goals over his first two seasons with the Texas Stars), he just wants to stick in the NHL for good.

“If you’re going north or south on the 95, it can really make your day a lot better or a lot worse,” Fraser said Thursday. “This is definitely where you want to be. Different players take different time in the American League. You take it as a blessing in disguise and just work on your game and do what you can to get back here.”

Fraser was having lunch in Providence as he and the P-Bruins were preparing for the second round of the Calder Cup playoffs against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton when he got the call from B’s assistant general manager Don Sweeney. The message was to get on the next flight to Montreal, as the B’s were recalling Fraser and returning Justin Florek to Providence.

“I think as a kid you play for the Stanley Cup a thousand times on the streets and the outdoor rink and stuff like that, but not in this environment,” Florek said. “It’s exciting obviously for sure. I’m not trying to downplay that at all, but at the same time, once you get out there, you’ve got to find your room and just play your game.”

It’s the “play your game” part that is most intriguing. The 6-foot-2, 204-pounder’s biggest asset is his shot, but the Canadiens have been blocking shots left and right — they led the league in the regular season and blocked 29 shots in Game 3 — and Carey Price is in stop-everything-he-sees mode.

Fraser scores left and right in the AHL, but scoring against Carey Price in the NHL playoffs will be a much different animal.

“He’€™s obviously a world-class goalie. He’€™s who he is, he’€™s developed that. You’€™ve got to find a way to get it through,” Fraser said. “It’€™s playoff hockey. There’€™s not going to be a lot of opportunities, so you’€™ve got to make sure when you have one, you put your best behind it.”

Added Fraser: “You always try and find your spots and get it off as quickly as you can. And you know it’€™s probably even harder now with how tight the playoffs are and everything like that, but you’€™ve got to have confidence in yourself to hold onto that puck for that extra second and make sure that you can make that extra play, when you get the chance and let it go.”

The other question is where Fraser will play if he is in Boston’s lineup. Fraser played 11 of his 14 games in Boston on the third line with Carl Soderberg, but that was when Soderberg was playing the wing, while Ryan Spooner was center. Whatever role Fraser serves, assuming he plays, will involve some uncharted territory with high stakes.

“I’€™m not going to be picky wherever they put me, that’€™s for sure,” Fraser said. “Again, I don’€™t know if I’€™m in, I don’€™t know if I’€™m out. All these guys in this dressing room are so good, everyone, they’€™re such a good NHL player that it’€™s pretty seamlessly you can fit in.”

Just don’t ask Claude Julien where Fraser will play.

“We’re going to make some game-time decisions as far as our roster’s concerned, guys,” the coach said.

Read More: Matt Fraser,
Carl Soderberg is playing; Claude Julien was just playin’ with Bruins lines 05.08.14 at 12:48 pm ET
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MONTREAL — Carl Soderberg was absent from the Bruins’ morning skate Thursday, but Claude Julien said that the player simply “took his option” and will be available to the team for Game 4 against the Canadiens.

Matt Fraser was on the ice after joining the team in Montreal Wednesday night. It is unknown whether the sharp-shooting 23-year-old will be in the lineup or where he will play.

Julien offered only this: “We’re going to make some game-time decisions as far as our roster’s concerned, guys.”

Now for the fun part. Julien, who is extremely secretive with what he reveals to the media during the postseason, had a bit of a chuckle making his lines for Thursday’s skate, and the result was a group of forward lines that has absolutely no shot of seeing time together when the puck is dropped. The lines were:

Milan LucicPatrice Bergeron – Loui Eriksson
Daniel PailleDavid Krejci – Reilly Smith
Brad MarchandGregory Campbell – Jarome Iginla
Matt Fraser – Jordan Caron – Shawn Thornton

Julien was asked after the morning skate if he was serious with his morning skate lines. Julien indicated he wasn’t, which pretty much should have gone without saying.

“Oh, I think it just gives you guys something to write about so you don’t get bored,” Julien said. “Then tonight I can decide whether I want to stick with those or put my lines back to what I want.”

The Boston coach was then asked why he went with silly lines.

“I think you’re overthinking, honestly,” Julien said. “We have fun with things sometimes and that’s all we’re doing right now. We’re OK. We’re just having fun with things. If you guys want to write about that stuff, that’s fine, but we’re OK in there. We’re just focusing on our game.”

For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.

Read More: Carl Soderberg, Claude Julien, Matt Fraser,
Bruins call up Matt Fraser, demote Justin Florek 05.08.14 at 8:07 am ET
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Matt Fraser

Matt Fraser

The Bruins announced Thursday that they have recalled forward Matt Fraser and returned Justin Florek to Providence on Thursday.

Fraser, 23, scored two goals for the Bruins in 14 games this season and had 20 goals for Providence in 44 games. The B’s acquired Fraser last July 4 in their trade with the Stars.

The young scorer’s biggest asset is his shot, and it will be interesting to see where Claude Julien plays him in the lineup if at all. Fraser played on a line with Carl Soderberg in 12 of his 14 NHL games this season. Soderberg is currently centering the third line with Daniel Paille and Loui Eriksson.

Florek played the entire first round against the Red Wings in Boston’s lineup but was a healthy scratch in Games 2 and 3 against Montreal. Paille’s return to the lineup for Game 1 of the series made Jordan Caron a scratch while Florek stayed in the lineup, but the B’s opted for Caron over Florek after that.

The Bruins resume their series with the Canadiens on Thursday night with Game 4 in Montreal.

For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.

Read More: Justin Florek, Matt Fraser,
Peter Chiarelli mum on Dennis Seidenberg, Bruins defense’s moving parts 05.07.14 at 2:35 pm ET
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BROSSARD, Quebec — Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli made himself available to the media Wednesday at Bell Sports Complex, but there was no special announcement or message revealed.

It’s very rare for general managers to speak during a series, and when they do, it’s with a specific message in mind. Chiarelli had none, and he opened the availability by declining comment in response to a question about whether Dennis Seidenberg could be close to a return.

“I’m not going to comment on that,” Chiarelli said. “I haven’t all last series or this series. “He is skating, as you can see and stuff, but that’s all I can say.”

Seidenberg, who had surgery to repair a torn ACL and MCL in early January, has been skating for weeks and is now practicing with the team. He has still yet to take contact, which would rule out any shot at him returning this series. The veteran defenseman told the Boston Globe Tuesday that he feels ready to play, but the lack of contact would suggest he isn’t close enough.

As for the players the B’s have used to fill Seidenberg’s spot on the left side of the second pairing, Chiarelli was asked about his confidence in Matt Bartkowski and Andrej Meszaros. Bartkowski missed the first two games of the first round with the flu, but after struggling in Games 4 and 5 against Detroit and taking the penalty that led to P.K. Subban‘s double-overtime goal in Game 1 of the second round, was benched in favor of Meszaros.

Meszaros hasn’t fared much better, as he also took a penalty that led to a power play goal in Game 2 and he had a poor showing in Game 3 even considering that he shot the puck that Jarome Iginla tipped past Carey Price with 2:16 remaining. The low point of the game for Meszaros was when Dale Weise slipped past both he and Johnny Boychuk, leading to a breakaway goal after Daniel Briere sent a pass up to the fourth-liner.

Given both players’ struggles, it’s anyone’s guess as to who the Bruins will go with for Thursday’s Game 4.

‘€œThat’€™s a lineup decision,” Chiarelli said. “These guys have been good for us. Bart has been good for us. He had to come in when Seidenberg got hurt. And he had to find his game and he had to fit in, and he’€™s done that. He got sick and he got out of sync a little bit. Mez, we acquired Mez in a trade. I didn’€™t mind his game last night. I know there’€™s … I think everyone can make a mistake here or there. He made a good play on the goal. So my confidence level is really irrelevant.’€

Read More: Dennis Seidenberg, Peter Chiarelli,
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