|Matt Bartkowski: ‘I know when I play well; I know when I play bad’||05.10.14 at 12:22 am ET|
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.
|Pierre McGuire on M&M: ‘Bruins really played a methodical, smart, surgical kind of game last night’||05.09.14 at 1:35 pm ET|
NBC Sports hockey analyst Pierre McGuire joined Mut & Merloni on Friday to discuss the Bruins’ Game 4 overtime win against Montreal. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
Matt Fraser, who played in his first playoff game on Thursday, became an unlikely hero when he scored 1:19 into overtime to give the Bruins a 1-0 win in Game 4.
“You could almost sense it coming from that line, to be perfectly honest,” McGuire said. “I made that point a lot during the broadcast. I thought both [Carl] Soderberg wanted it off the crossbar, [Loui] Eriksson was really pushing the pace and obviously Fraser fit in really well with them. Peter Chiarelli and the scouting staff of the Bruins and Bruce Cassidy out in Providence deserve a lot of credit.
“This is a kid who was an undrafted player coming out of the Western Hockey League, and he’s part of a big trade last summer with Rich Peverley going the other way and Tyler Seguin going the other way. He fits in so well. It was just a ping-pong play off the back board.
“I thought the Bruins really played a methodical, smart, surgical kind of game last night.”
The Bruins have had just two penalties during the past two games of the series.
“I just think they’re worried about taking penalties,” McGuire said. “The Bruins win that double-overtime game in Game 1, they become more of a beast, more physical, but they went down 0-1 in the series. They knew they couldn’t go down 0-2, they had to scramble to win Game 2, they lose Game 3 and now they’re saying, ‘Uh-oh, we cannot allow these guys to get man advantages,’ so they changed a little bit of their dynamic. I also think heading into tomorrow’s game, now that it’s 2-2 and heading back to Boston, I truly believe we’ll see a more physical Bruins team, more like the Bruins team the fans in Boston are used to seeing.”
“Just for whatever reason, David Krejci looks a little fatigued to me,” McGuire said. “I think today maybe he gets a day off and he goes into the game tomorrow energized and he plays a little bit better, but he wasn’t managing the puck well during that game, especially during the power play. They need to be better, and I think they will be better. I think the biggest part of it was Krejci with the Olympics, with all the games he played last year, the fact that he’s not an overly large guy. I think there’s a fatigue factor with him.”
|Andrej Meszaros glad to be back in Bruins lineup||05.04.14 at 2:06 pm ET|
When Matt Bartkowski got healthy and was given his usual spot on the Bruins’ second pairing back midway through the first round against the Red Wings, Andrej Meszaros had to know that he wasn’t going to sit for long. It’s the playoffs; players get hurt.
Yet when Meszaros made his return to Boston’s lineup in Saturday’s Game 2 against the Canadiens, it wasn’t because of injuries, but because Bartkowski was having a tough go of it. Bartkowski, who beat out Meszaros for the job as Johnny Boychuk‘s partner down the stretch, returned from the flu for Game 3 against the Red Wings, but struggled in Games 4 and 5 against Detroit.
When Bartkowski had another tough performance in Game 1 against the Canadiens — most notably taking the penalty that led to P.K. Subban‘s double-overtime-winner, Claude Julien showed just how short a leash he’s keeping his players on and put Meszaros back in the lineup for Game 2.
“It’s what we decided to do; it’s as simple as that,” Julien said Sunday. “I think we felt we needed a change and we made that.”
Meszaros had an assist and took a roughing penalty Saturday. His penalty for getting into it with Tomas Plekanec — which should have been matching — led to a Thomas Vanek power play goal.
By the looks of it, Meszaros will remain in the lineup going forward, as Bartkowski skated with the injured players and scratches Sunday.
“I had to prepare myself because you never know what’s going to happen, if there’s going to be injuries or whatever,” Meszaros said Sunday. “But obviously being out of the lineup it’s tough for anybody, not just for me. But I’m glad I got the opportunity to go out there and play. It was a fun game.”
There is one interesting wrinkle to Meszaros’ situation: The pick that was traded to the Flyers at the trade deadline was conditional, and it’s in jeopardy of vesting. As is, Boston has sent a third-round pick in the upcoming draft to Philadelphia for Meszaros, but if the B’s advance to the Eastern Conference finals and Meszaros plays in two thirds of Boston’s postseason games, the Flyers would get Boston’s second-round pick instead.
Meszaros has now played in three of the Bruins’ seven playoff games, but if the B’s beat the Canadiens, he’ll have played in at least 6 of Boston’s 10. In other words, if the Bruins beat the Canadiens and Meszaros stays in the lineup for the rest (or even most) of Boston’s playoff run, the Flyers will get that pick. Philly also gets that pick if the Bruins re-sign Meszaros before the draft. Should the B’s sign him after the draft, the Flyers get a fourth-rounder 2015 in addition to this year’s third.
|Matt Bartkowski back in for Bruins for Game 3, Andrej Meszaros sits vs. Red Wings||04.22.14 at 7:28 pm ET|
DETROIT — Matt Bartkowski is back in the Bruins lineup for Game 3 of the first round against the Red Wings.
Bartkowski missed the first two games of the series due to a stomach flu. His return means that Andrej Meszaros will sit after playing the first two games in Bartkowski’s place.
The forward lines are the same for the Bruins, while Joakim Andersson being in for Daniel Alfredsson is the only change to Detroit’s lineup.
For more Bruins coverage, visit weei.com/bruins.
|Andrej Meszaros ready to step in if Matt Bartkowski unable to go for Bruins||04.18.14 at 11:44 am ET|
Matt Bartkowski was once again not on the ice Friday for the Bruins’ morning skate, meaning he has not skated at all this week. Bartkowski, who was spotted in the Bruins’ dressing room Friday after showering, may have been one of the Bruins battling the flu this week.
With Bartkowski’s status for Game 1 against the Red Wings in question (Claude Julien is not giving updates on his players), Andrej Meszaros could be called upon to play Friday night to play on the second pairing alongside Johnny Boychuk. If he is, he says he’s ready.
“Yeah, if I play, I’m ready to go,” Meszaros said Friday morning. “I can’t wait actually to start the playoffs. It should be fun.”
The Bruins acquired Meszaros, a left shot defenseman who can play both sides, at the trade deadline from the Flyers for a conditional draft pick. Assuming everyone on Boston’s back end is healthy, Meszaros would likely serve as an extra defenseman.
The fact that the Bruins’ opponent is Detroit makes the situation all the more interesting, as Meszaros had one of his worst games as a Bruin in Boston’s 3-2 loss to the Red Wings on April 2. Meszaros, who was paired with Boychuk for that contest, was a minus-2 in the game and was exposed by Detroit’s speed.
In particular, Darren Helm flew by him in the neutral zone with the B’s on the power play in the second period before Tuukka Rask stopped the shorthanded bid. He was also on the ice for Tomas Jurco’s game-tying goal in the third period.
“They’re a really, really good team,” Meszaros said. “They have a lot of skill and a lot of speed. We have to be ready for that and match their intensity. It’s going to be a fast game.
“We should have won that game, but obviously we didn’t,” he added. “We had a lot of chances. [Jimmy] Howard played way too good. You have to put pucks on net and get traffic in font and get as much traffic as we can. When you go to the net, you’ve got score goals.”
Meszaros was rotated in and out of the Bruins’ lineup down the stretch and has played 14 games with two goals and there assists for five points with the B’s. He admitted there was an adjustment when he came over, but says he’s all caught up now.
“I understand everything. Everything is fine now,” Meszaros said. “I know the system, so it’s just about execution and playing hard and playing the right way that they want me to play.”
|Andy Brickley on M&M: Dennis Seidenberg should not supplant Kevan Miller||04.09.14 at 1:30 pm ET|
NESN Bruins analyst Andy Brickley made his weekly appearance with Mut & Merloni on Wednesday to talk about Dennis Seidenberg, the injuries to Jarome Iginla and Kevan Miller, where Andrej Meszaros fits on the depth chart, the play of Matt Bartkowski and more. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
With momentum picking up on Seidenberg playing in the postseason at some point, fans have started to wonder where the defenseman would be on the depth chart. Brickley said he didn’t think that the 32-year-old should be slotted back on the top pairing at the expense of Miller, who’s played well in his absence.
“I just find it so difficult to put a guy that’s not a hundred percent, or depending on what percent he is, in front of say, Kevan Miller, who’s been getting the job done, who’s in top form, who’s game-ready and ready to go and proven that they have trust in this guy,” Brickley said.
Miller and Iginla both missed Tuesday’s matchup with Minnesota, despite making the trip. Brickley is confident both will be ready to go for the playoffs.
“If this was playoff hockey right now, I’m convinced both would be able to play,” Brickley said. “It’s all about maintenance, it’s all about rest, it’s all about precautionary, those are the terms you’re going to hear right now. Because the Bruins put themselves in this position, they have the options to really focus on the middle of April and not so much on the results and having guys play right now.”
|Adam McQuaid still not skating; Claude Julien not ruling out defensive rotation in playoffs||04.05.14 at 4:46 pm ET|
Bruins coach Claude Julien said Saturday that he is not ruling out a rotation of defensemen going into the postseason.
Matt Bartkowski and Andrej Meszaros figure to be in the biggest positional battle for the left spot on the second pairing along Boychuk, and the two have taken turns playing that role in recent games. Bartkowski played with Boychuk in Saturday’s win over the Flyers, while Meszaros played with Torey Krug on the third pairing and struggled.
“It doesn’t have to be a set six,” Julien said. “It could be, and it could also be a rotation as long as everybody’s good enough to be in that rotation. So no, and I don’t see any rush for that decision to be made yet.”
The idea of a rotation is intriguing given that Bartkowski and Meszaros have both spent time in and out of the lineup this season and might be better prepared to avoid rust, though for consistency’s sake the B’s would be wise to nail down a steady second pairing that could continue the play they got from the Andrew Ference – Boychuk pairing of postseasons past.
Kevan Miller seems to have solidified a place in the postseason lineup, as he played 33 straight games for the B’s leading up to his day off Saturday. His competition would be a healthy Adam McQuaid, but Julien said prior to Saturday’s game that McQuaid, though getting better, still is not skating. McQuaid has been out since Jan. 19 with a quad strain that has plagued him throughout the season, as he has been limited to 30 games.
The anticipated postseason pairings at this point figure to be Zdeno Chara with Dougie Hamilton, Bartkowski with Boychuk and Krug with Miller, though that could change depending on who they end up facing.