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.”