|Bruins hope Matt Bartkowski can dig himself out of hole||11.09.14 at 1:14 pm ET|
The Bruins can only hope they’ll go the rest of the season without being as banged up on defense as they are right now, but you have to think that they’ll need Matt Bartkowski at some point.
That time could come as early as Monday. Torey Krug is a possibility to return from a broken finger, but if he does not, the loss of David Warsofsky would require Bartkowski to return to the lineup after serving the last four games as a healthy scratch.
Unlike the rest of the absences among Boston’s blueliners, Bartkowski’s is due to performance. At the time that Krug went down with his injury, the Bruins called up Warsofsky and Joe Morrow from Providence; Warsofsky was brought up to spell Krug, while Morrow was recalled to replace a struggling Bartkowski.
After serving as a regular on Boston’s second pairing down the stretch last season, Bartkowski has taken a big step backwards, committing multiple on-ice errors that led directly to opposing goals. He was benched for much of the third period after being on the ice for his second goal against of the game against the Wild and has not played since.
At that point, Bartkowski admitted that he was struggling with confidence. If and when he gets back in the lineup, the B’s will hope that both his confidence and decision-making have improved.
“I don’t know if it’s just last year; we just know he’s good enough when he’s on top of his game to be a good player for us,” Claude Julien said. “He dug himself a hole and now he’s got to dig himself out of it. It starts in practice.”
Morrow has been fine in his first four NHL games thus far and hasn’t made a case to be taken out of the lineup. That will happen when other players such as Zdeno Chara and Kevan Miller return from their injuries, but it doesn’t seem Bartkowski would be able to wrest the job from Morrow for now.
It will take Krug remaining out for Bartkowski to get back in. If he does, Claude Julien hopes that Bartkowski has spent his time in the press box well.
“There’s two ways to look at it,” Julien said. “You can go there and mope and not make yourself better or you can go do what Matt Fraser did: watch and learn and then when you get your chance, take advantage of it. It doesn’t matter. A player should always want to play. He should be anxious to get the call, and when you’re called upon you should be ready to go.
“You only get so many chances, right? If you keep failing, you keep going back in the press box. It’s all about attitude. These guys are professionals. They’re paid to do this job and they’ve got to do it professional way.”
|Andy Brickley on MFB: ‘Maybe the [Patrice] Bergeron line needs a little change of scenery’||10.29.14 at 1:26 pm ET|
NESN Bruins analyst Andy Brickley made his weekly appearance on Middays with MFB to discuss the Bruins’ disappointing start to the season. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
The Bruins blew a two-goal lead and dropped a 4-3 decision to the Wild on Tuesday night, putting their record at 5-6 on the young season. Brickley said the team is “treading water,” evidenced by Tuesday’s performance.
“It was 3-1 after two periods, but the Bruins were not playing all that well,” Brickley said. “That score did not indicate that the Bruins were the better team through 40 minutes. There were just too many mistakes, lack of focus, poor decision-making, getting beat on the backcheck, the defense for Minnesota was jumping into the play. And every line was guilty, none more so than the [Patrice] Bergeron line.”
Brickley said coach Claude Julien might have to resort to mixing up lines in an attempt to jump-start the team.
“It’s that one step forward, one step back that has plagued this team this year, and that’s that lack of focus and the lack of compete and consistency, just not there. It’s really hard to understand, because the core group is together and should be well schooled in all these areas and understand what they have in front of them in terms of not wanting to chase it the first two months of the season and get too far behind in the standings.
“As a coach in these situations you try to emphasize the positive things when you think that’s the right approach. Sometimes you’ve got to call guys out — not in public, but certainly within the room. Claude right now is very frustrated on what he needs to do to get this team to play better. You may even have to see some line juggling. Maybe you keep that [Carl] Soderberg line together to give you the one constant. The way the [David] Krejci line produced last night, maybe you keep them together. But I don’t know, maybe the Bergeron line needs a little change of scenery because it’s not working right now.
“You could appeal to players’ sense of, you know, ‘We’ve got to win some hockey games here, boys, and we’ve got to play better and we’ve got to do the little things that make us a good team, and we’ve got to work together as five-man units,’ because they’re just not getting the results. It’s hard to explain, it’s hard to get your hands around. And that’s the challenge for the coaching staff right now.”
|Seth Griffith, Matt Bartkowski appear set to return to Bruins lineup vs. Sharks||10.21.14 at 12:20 pm ET|
Tuukka Rask was first goaltender off the ice at Tuesday’s morning skate, suggesting he’ll be between the pipes against the Sharks.
With Kevan Miller out, Matt Bartkowski is set to enter the lineup. The Bruins will play Torey Krug on the right side of the second pairing with Dennis Seidenberg.
Krug is a left shot, but he has experience playing the right side dating back to college. Seidenberg is also a lefty who can play both sides.
Matt Fraser appears to be the team’s healthy scratch on offense, as he rotated in on the fourth line but stayed on the ice later than his teammates.
The lines and pairings in morning skate were as follows:
Marchand – Bergeron – Smith
Lucic – Krejci – Griffith
Kelly – Soderberg – Eriksson
Paille – Campbell – Gagne
Chara – Hamilton
Seidenberg – Krug
Bartkowski – McQuaid
|Looking at Bruins’ candidates to replace Johnny Boychuk||10.06.14 at 12:18 pm ET|
The trade of Johnny Boychuk left a tough hole to fill on the right side of the Bruins’ second defensive pairing. Not only was Boychuk a dependable player alongside Zdeno Chara on the top pairing for years, but his work in anchoring the second pairing without Chara in the postseason is what allowed the B’s to team Chara and Dennis Seidenberg with success in the 2011 and 2013 postseasons.
Prior to Saturday’s trade, Boychuk had been skating with Seidenberg on the second pairing. That leaves Seidenberg, who is still shaking the rust off after not playing since last December, without a partner. Assuming that the B’s opt to keep Dougie Hamilton alongside Chara on their top pairing and Torey Krug remains on the third pairing, here are the internal candidates to replace Boychuk:
Bartkowski is a terrific skater who makes the game exciting for both the right and wrong reasons. He was given a top-4 spot (and then had it taken away, and then had it given back, and then had it taken away, etc.) last season when Seidenberg went down, but that doesn’t mean he’s a shoo-in to return to the second pairing.
Playing Bartkowski on the second pairing would mean that Seidenberg, a left shot who plays the right side when teamed with Chara, would need to move to the right-side to accomodate the left-shooting Bartkowski. Seidenberg and Bartkowski were paired together at points prior to Seidenberg’s injury and again on Saturday night and have not looked good together. By my count, the two played were paired together for eight games last season, with Bartkowski posting an even rating in four of the games, a minus-1 in three of them and a plus-1 in one to combine for a minus-2.
It’s been a weird tenure for Bartkowski in Boston thus far. After being stolen from the Panthers in the hilarious trade that also sent Seidenberg to Boston for Byron Bitz, Craig Weller and a second-round pick, Bartkowski was the final cut on the Stanley Cup-winning 2010-11 team, spent three years in Providence, was(n’t) traded to the Flames for Jarome Iginla, started last season as the seventh defenseman and eventually was Seidenberg’s replacement.
He was sick to begin last postseason and was a scapegoat of sorts as the Bruins were upset by the Canadiens in the second round, though the Bruins taking him in and out of the lineup in that series in favor of Andrej Meszaros probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do for his confidence.
McQuaid is a solid third-pairing blueliner who is both responsible in his own and end extremely mean wherever he is on the ice. Yet to assume he can be a top-4 defenseman for a full season and postseason would be irresponsible on the part of the Bruins.
Last season was the most frustrating season of what’s been a frustrating NHL career for McQuaid. Since taking Mark Stuart‘s job during the 2010-11 season, McQuaid has dealt with injury after injury, with last year being doomed by a quad injury that limited him to just 30 games. When it became clear that he wouldn’t be able to return at any point of the postseason, McQuaid got surgery on an ankle that had been bugging him as well.
So, like Seidenberg, McQuaid is trying to regain his form after a long time out of game action (his last regular season game was Jan. 19).
If the Bruins attempt to trade for a top-six forward, McQuaid could still be a candidate to be moved. His $1.56 million cap hit would allow the B’s, who figure to have $3.1 million in cap space going into the season, to add a player who makes decent money provided they also move other assets such as draft picks (they have their first-round pick and have four second-rounders in the next two drafts) or prospects. The Bruins’ depth on D ‘ Zach Trotman is in the AHL because of it ‘ would still make them able to overcome another blueliner, albeit one outside their top-4, being moved.
If all goes well, this is the guy who eventually replaces Boychuk. Miller is a right shot and the strongest player on the Bruins under 6-foot-9. His skill set is the closest to Boychuk’s of any of the players in this group, but he has a long way to go.
Though he got some minutes with Chara and an opportunity to defend a 6-on-5 against the Penguins, the Bruins generally sheltered Miller as a rookie. As a third-pairing player, the Bruins were careful with his matchups (his -.901 CorsiRel quality of competion was the second-lowest on the team; only his partner in Krug player easier minutes). Krug was also the only player with a higher offensive zone start percentage than Miller.
Claude Julien did not shelter Boychuk last season. The B’s put him out against whatever was leftover for opponents after Chara and Patrice Bergeron‘s line discarded the team’s first line. Boychuk had a .385 CorsiRel quality of competition; only Chara (1.5) and Hamilton (.386) played tougher minutes.
This isn’t to suggest that Miller can’t handle an uptick in competition now or won’t be able to later in the season. It just means that if the Bruins are going to give him the opportunity to replace Boychuk, they can’t hide him like they did last season.
The Bruins mix and match with their pairings throughout the season, and the guess is that they’ll probably do that again as they audition Boychuk’s replacements. With three legitimate candidates, don’t assume that whoever’s teamed with Seidenberg Wednesday night will be there all season. The money here is on Miller to be the last man standing.
|Matt Bartkowski signs, but will he stick with Bruins?||07.15.14 at 3:51 pm ET|
The Matt Bartkowski story is simple, yet complicated: The Bruins somehow got him in the process of ripping off the Panthers in a trade for Dennis Seidenberg, he was the last cut on the team that won the Stanley Cup and since then he’s developed into a serviceable NHL defenseman.
And nobody ever knows whether he’s in or out, traded or kept.
As Bartkowski’s new one-year, $1.25 million deal was announced by the team Tuesday, those things still aren’t certain. The Bruins believe they have nine NHL defensemen right now. Zdeno Chara, Torey Krug, Seidenberg, Dougie Hamilton and Johnny Boychuk are locks for the lineup as long as they aren’t moved. From there, it’s Bartkowski, Kevan Miller, Adam McQuaid and David Warsofsky battling for one lineup spot and the extra D spot.
All of those guys can’t be here by the time the season starts. They simply can’t.
Training camp competition is one thing, but having a boatload of NHL-ready defensemen – especially when there are guys getting closer to ready at the AHL level in Zach Trotman and Joe Morrow — is impractical when some of them can be moved to fill other needs in the organization.
The fact that it’s public knowledge that the Bruins tried to trade him two seasons ago for Jarome Iginla makes Bartkowski a logical candidate to be moved in the right deal. Then again, if they move one of their pricier blueliners, Bartkowski is a pretty good bargain to keep for a million and a quarter.
“I think it’s only just a hindrance to worry about where you’re going to end up and all that,” Bartkowski said Tuesday. ‘You just prepare for what you can, and the team you’re on, and if something happens, it happens. It’s out of our hands, so like I said, there’s really no reason for me to worry about it. I just try to focus on my summer workouts and being as ready as I can for next season.”
If Bartkowski stays and the five aforementioned locks are in Boston and healthy, playing time will be tough to come by. Depending on whether lefties Seidenberg or Krug are tried on the right side, there might not be a spot in the lineup for the left-shooting Bartkowski.
That would be a tough blow for Bartkowski for multiple reasons. For one, he played 64 NHL games last season, so a big cutback in playing time would hurt his progression. He’ll also be an unrestricted free agent at season’s end, so being an extra defenseman would hardly translate into a pay day.
Of course, things happen. Remember, a season ago, the Bruins were only occasionally rotating him into the lineup before an injury to Seidenberg catapulted him not only into the lineup, but onto the second pairing.
“When I say I expect to play, that’s what I expect out of myself,” Bartkowski said. “It starts from having a good summer and being in shape coming into camp. You have to expect it out of yourself. Otherwise, what’s your motivation? What are you playing for? You want to be able to help the team every way you can, and I think expecting that of yourself to be able to play and be able to play well, night in, night out, is the best thing you can do.”
So many times, Bartkowski has looked destined to be the odd man out. Yet he keeps finding a way to see the ice, making him both a valuable trade chip or a player they might want to keep around.
|Bruins sign David Pastrnak, Matt Bartkowski||at 10:34 am ET|
The Bruins announced Tuesday that they have signed right wing David Pastrnak to an entry level contract. They also officially announced the signing of Matt Bartkowski to a one-year, $1.25 million deal.
Pastrnak, the team’s first-round pick (25th overall) in last month’s draft, was expected to be inked by Tuesday, as the team would have to pay more money to Sweden’s hockey federation if they were to sign him after.
Bartkowski’s contract allows the two sides to avoid arbitration, something for which the defenseman had filed.
“It’s always good if you can come to an agreement before the hearing,” general manager Peter Chiarelli said. “I think it sends a positive message to Matt that we want to have him back. It was going to be a contract anyways, because he elected arb, but I’m okay with that. It’s just good to get it done. It doesn’t mean you do it and your compromise or work around the edges, it’s to get a good result, and you try and do it in the best interest of the player also.”
Pastrnak signing means he will be in training camp in September. His three-year deal won’t begin until he turns pro, and can play up to nine games in the NHL this season without burning a year off the contract.
Chiarelli sang his praises following last week’s development camp, and the fact that he is a skilled right-shot wing — something the Bruins don’t currently have on their NHL roster — has led to speculation that he could make the team.
“He’ll get the experience of a training camp, and he’ll get some [preseason] games,” Chiarelli said Tuesday of Pastrnak. “He had a terrific development camp, and I know everyone’s talking about him. He’s a good young player, he’s just 18 years old and he’s a player ‘ it’s well-documented that we’re looking for skill and speed and he fits that bill, but let’s not put the cart before the horse with David. I think we’re fortunate to get him where we got him and he had a terrific camp, and we’ll see where it goes from there.”
For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.
|Matt Bartkowski files for salary arbitration||07.05.14 at 5:40 pm ET|
The NHL Players’ Association has announced the 20 players that have elected salary arbitration. Among them is Bruins defenseman Matt Bartkowski, who was the only Bruin to file.
Bartkowski, who is a restricted free agent, can still reach a new agreement with the Bruins leading up until hearings are held from July 20 to Aug. 14. If a deal isn’t struck by then, a hearing will be held with an independent arbitrator, who will then determine the amount of money the player will be paid by the team.
Should Bartkowski be deemed worth more than $3,500,000 by the arbitrator (which is very unlikely), the Bruins would have the option of walking away and letting Bartkowski sign elsewhere as an unrestricted free agent.
The 2013-14 season marked Bartkowski’s first full season in the NHL. He skated in 64 regular season games and eight playoff games, contributing 18 points (all assists) in the regular season and one assist in the postseason. Bartkowski, who scored in Game 7 against the Maple Leafs two seasons ago, has yet to score a regular-season goal in 84 games in the NHL thus far.
For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.