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Matt Bartkowski on M&M: ‘Trying not to change too much’ with increased ice time 02.07.14 at 1:39 pm ET
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Matt Bartkowski

Matt Bartkowski

Bruins defenseman Matt Bartkowski joined Mut & Merloni on Friday to discuss being a young defenseman, the Olympics and other hockey-related news. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

With Zdeno Chara out of the B’s lineup due to the Olympics, Bartkowski and the rest of the team’s younger defenseman are getting more ice time.

“We’€™re just trying to focus on playing our games,” Bartkowski said. “We’€™re not trying to change too much of what we do. We try and do too much then it ends up hurting the team or being detrimental, so as long as we play our games, we’€™re just getting some more minutes.”

Bartkowski, who played in 20 regular-season games and skated to a minus-3 in the previous three seasons, has registered 10 points in 41 games this season.

“I think it’€™s more just your comfort level and your confidence level,” Bartkowski said. “The more and more you play, and the more you understand that you, yourself, you should be there and you’€™re good enough, and you should be there for a reason — once you understand that, I think your instincts just kind of take over and you just play the game like you know you can.”

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Kevan Miller won’t get complacent with new contract 01.23.14 at 1:36 pm ET
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Kevan Miller

Kevan Miller

WILMINGTON — The Bruins showed during Kevan Miller‘s first call-up that they had faith in him when they played him in the final minute of a one-goal game against the Penguins.

They showed it again this week when they gave him a two-year, one-way contract extension worth $1.6 million.

“I mean, it’s obviously a good feeling,” Miller said Thursday of the deal he signed Tuesday. “You never want to get too comfortable; you always want to kind of be on your toes, but it’s a confidence-booster.”

Miller, 26, has played 16 games for the Bruins this season. The Los Angeles native and undrafted University of Vermont product has a goal and an assist for two points, an even rating and an average of 16:53 played per game. He’s been needed given the injuries the Bruins have had on their blue line to Adam McQuaid, Dougie Hamilton and Johnny Boychuk, and he’s used the time to show he’s capable of being an NHL player.

“He’s earned it,” Claude Julien said. “It’s pretty obvious he’s come in here and played some pretty solid hockey and he’s been rewarded for it. There’s no doubt, for a player, it certainly gives you that confidence and that security that you’re always looking for. But he’s still on a two-way this year, so he’s got to be careful.”

Miller was set to be a restricted free agent at season’s end. Last season, the Bruins re-upped then free agent-to-be Matt Bartkowski with a one-year deal, and though they tried to trade him afterward, Bartkowski said that it’s helpful for a player to know what’s ahead of them early in their NHL career.

“It’s pretty comforting in a sense that you kind of know where you’re going to be the next year,” Bartkowski said. “My situation was a little different, but it certainly gives you confidence, which brings a comfort level, I guess.”

The fact that Miller has two seasons ahead of him for low dollars would seemingly make him a more valuable commodity should any teams be interested in his services when talking trade with the Bruins. Bartkowski, who frequently pokes fun at teammates, said he hasn’t teased Miller with the idea that the team could try to trade Miller like they did with him.

Considering they’ve been defensive partners at both the AHL and NHL level for years now, Bartkowski certainly wouldn’t want that to happen, either.

“No, I don’t think they’re doing that,” Bartkowski said with a laugh. “I actually hadn’t even thought of that, so maybe I’ll bring that up next.”

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Matt Bartkowski: ‘Hopefully I play well enough so they can’t take me out’ 11.21.13 at 12:40 pm ET
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Matt Bartkowski

Matt Bartkowski

Matt Bartkowski had no intention of coming out of Tuesday’s game against the Rangers when, with Dennis Seidenberg already done for the game, he crashed into the boards and hurt his left leg. He also has no plans on coming out of the Bruins’ lineup.

After getting banged up, Bartkowski missed the remainder of the second period Monday, as he likened it to hitting one’s funny bone and said he “couldn’t really move.” He returned to play the third period and appeared hampered, though he said Thursday that he wasn’t dealing with anything more than a little tightness. He still managed to log over 21 minutes in the game.

“It would have had to be something that the trainers would have had to tell me I couldn’t play,” Bartkowski said Thursday. “There’s five D; you’ve got to play.”

Thursday’s game will be the sixth consecutive contest in which Bartkowski has played for the Bruins, which will double the three games in a row he got last month when Claude Julien did some shuffling on the back end to get him some ice time. With Seidenberg out at least a week, it doesn’t look like Bartkowski will be exiting the lineup in the immediate future.

Obviously, Bartkowski finds himself in a position where he should be extremely motivated. He’s been given games here and there this season, but he has been the team’s seventh defenseman, and this stretch of games provides him as good a chance as any to earn a full-time job on the B’s blue line.

“Of course,” Bartkowski said. “Whenever I do get into games, especially this longer stretch, hopefully I play well enough so they can’t take me out.”

Bartkowski has played the last five games on a pairing with Johnny Boychuk. He’s generally been fifth among defensemen in time on ice (Torey Krug has played less), with Tuesday’s 21:13 the most he’s played in an NHL regular-season game (he played more in overtime games last postseason against the Maple Leafs and Rangers).

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Adam McQuaid out for road trip 11.15.13 at 8:17 pm ET
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Bruins coach Claude Julien told reporters Friday that defenseman Adam McQuaid did not travel with the team for its three-game road trip, meaning that in addition to missing Friday’s game against the Senators, McQuaid will be out Monday and Tuesday against the Hurricanes and Rangers, respectively.

McQuaid suffered a lower-body injury in his second shift of the Bruins’ win over the Maple Leafs last Saturday. He left after grabbing his groin area and did not return. Julien did say Thursday that McQuaid was working out and riding the stationary bike, and McQuaid has been spotted at various points over the last week walking without a limp.

With McQuaid out, Matt Bartkowski will remain in the Bruins’ lineup. Bartkowski had a pair of assists in the first period Friday against the Senators, making it his first career multi-point game in the NHL.

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

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Adam McQuaid misses Wednesday’s practice, still day-to-day 11.13.13 at 10:39 am ET
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WILMINGTON — Defenseman Adam McQuaid was the only player missing from Wednesday’s Bruins practice at Ristuccia Arena, suggesting he’s likely to remain out with a lower-body injury.

McQuaid left after his second shift of Saturday’s win over the Maple Leafs and did not play Monday against the Lightning. He grabbed his groin area at the end of his last shift Saturday, with Claude Julien saying McQuaid’s injury is to “where he grabbed.” The coach added that he wasn’t sure if McQuaid’s injury was a “day-to-day” situation or a “week-plus.” He gave something of an update following Wednesday’s practice.

“Still day-to-day,” Julien said. “He’s not skating now because he’s not capable of it. We keep hoping that he keeps improving, and we’ll see where he stands by then.”

Matt Bartkowski played Monday in McQuaid’s place and is expected to be in again Thursday against the Blue Jackets. Julien said the team has “no idea” whether McQuaid will travel to Ottawa for Friday’s game.

For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.

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Bruins not sure if Adam McQuaid’s injury is ‘day-to-day or a week-plus’ 11.11.13 at 12:13 pm ET
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Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid was confirmed out for Monday’s matinee against the Lightning with a lower-body injury, and the Bruins aren’t sure when he’ll be able to return.

“They haven’t told us whether it’s day-to-day or a week-plus,” Claude Julien said. “I don’t have the answer for you there.”

McQuaid appeared to grab his groin area during his second shift of the game Saturday against the Maple Leafs. He was slow to get off the ice and did not return. Asked to confirm that it was a lower-body injury, Julien said that it was the area McQuaid grabbed as he went down.

“I think everybody knows where he got hurt,” Julien said. “I think he grabbed it quick enough that it was pretty obvious.”

With McQuaid out, Matt Bartkowski will play Monday. He was paired with Johnny Boychuk in Sunday’s practice.

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

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Offense taking over defense with Matt Bartkowski ready to step in for Adam McQuaid 11.10.13 at 1:36 pm ET
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Matt Bartkowski

Matt Bartkowski

WILMINGTON – Claude Julien said at the beginning of the season that the Bruins wouldn’t let Matt Bartkowski sit for a month. It’s true — they didn’t — but they’ve hardly gotten him into the lineup regularly of late.

With Bartkowski set to step in Monday for the injured Adam McQuaid, he’ll be playing in just the second time in the last 11 games. Bartkowski last played last Saturday against the Islanders, when he posted a minus-1 in a 3-1 Bruins loss.

“It’s just like stepping in for another game,” Bartkowski said Sunday. “I just try and think about that, so it’s nothing new.”

Assuming Bartkowski is in, the Bruins will likely be looking at having one of their young, mobile defensemen on each of their three pairings. Bartkowski was paired with Johnny Boychuk in practice Sunday, while Hamilton skated with Zdeno Chara and Krug — playing on the right side — was with Dennis Seidenberg.

If the Bruins go with those pairings — which are different from the ones they had when McQuaid was scratched in favor of Bartkowski in Florida last month — a Bruins back end that has already become a lot more offensive-minded will take it a step further with half of the defensemen being mobile blueliners.

“We do bring a little bit different game, I guess, with the skating and everything,” Bartkowski said. “It seems like the league has a lot of those D, and it’s good that we can bring that to the team. The solid D core that they’ve had here for years has worked. They won a Cup with it and everything, so for us to be able to add a little bit, it definitely helps.”

On the season, Bartkowski has played in four games, registering one assist and posting a minus-3 rating.

Given that the Bruins entered the season with seven defensemen capable of being NHL regulars, it seemed likely that Bartkowski, the fourth left shot among the seven, would be the odd man out. Yet Julien vowed to get him in the lineup wherever he could rather than letting him collect cobwebs in the press box like many spare parts.

As such, Bartkowski played in three of the Bruins’ first six games. Yet due to steady play from Torey Krug and Dougie Hamilton and perhaps a desire on the Bruins’ part to get some consistency during a rough stretch of the season, Bartkowski played in only one of the next 10 contests.

“We all know that under other circumstances he’d probably be in the top-4 maybe even on some other teams when he’s on top of his game, so he’s a good defenseman,” Julien said. “It’s just right now we’ve got numbers. We’ve got veterans that are extremely good, that we’ve relied on in the past.

“We’ve got some good young players here. … How do you take Krug out of the lineup when he’s probably one of your most important guys on the power play? Hamilton is the same way. He’s on the power play but he’s also played extremely well, so it’s not easy to balance those things out. So you make decisions as you go along, you know with time it’ll even itself out but he’s a good player, he deserves and belongs in this league. It’s as simple as that.”

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