Bartkowski ready for second chance

561492.jpg

Bartkowski ready for second chance

CHICAGO Matt Bartkowski didnt have a great hockey game against the Philadelphia Flyers on opening night, but the rookie defenseman didnt exactly have a terrible effort either.

The young defenseman was thrown into the Bruins lineup against the Flyers during the banner-raising evening when Adam McQuaid came down with a virus late in training camp, and finished with a largely uneventful eight plus minutes of ice time. The Bruins coaching staff essentially went with a five-man defensemen rotation for the majority of the game after the first period.

Then McQuaid returned to play the next three games before hitting his head against the boards against the Carolina Hurricanes, and now Bartkowski gets shot number two to impress the Bs brass against the Blackhawks.

The first game was alright. It was a first game. I had a couple of turnovers I could have stopped and I maybe hesitated a little bit, but it was alright on the whole, said Bartkowski matter-of-factly.

How excited is the 23-year-old to jump back into the fray with a second crack?

For sure Ive been waiting since the opener: Im eager, Im ready and Im excited so it should be fun, said Bartkowski. Watching the games Ive noticed little things like some system things like push-backs and 3-on-2 situations, and where to be on the penalty kill. There are certain things that guys do in the zone especially down low between the hash marks and stuff like that you watch everything.

Claude Julien liked the improvement he saw out of Bartkowski during training camp, and the specific gains in the strength and confidence areas. Bartkowski estimated he gained about seven pounds in the offseason, and said its not usually much of a problem keeping weight on once its been packed onto his frame.

This is a guy that we have a lot of faith will be a part of our group in the near future as a regular. Hes battling for that seventh spot, said Julien. To me hes way ahead of where he was last year and its just a matter of giving him some time on the ice with us and some confidence.

Hes a guy that had a good training camp with us. Hes become a lot stronger. Right now its about the speed of the game and moving the puck more quickly moving up the ice. Hes a good skater and all he needs to do is adapt to the speed of the game at this level.

On the flip side, Bartkowskis body of work during training camp got progressively worse as the preseason went along and he really stumbled in the last preseason game against the New York Islanders. The action and pace seemed to quicken up on Bartkowski and the decision-making suffered a little bit but now the young blueliner gets a chance to turn that trend around.

Hayes knows he's a good player, wants to silence the critics

bruins_blue_jackets_jimmy_hayes_092616.jpg

Hayes knows he's a good player, wants to silence the critics

BOSTON, Mass. – There’s a long way to go toward a complete resurrection from last season’s misdeeds, but Jimmy Hayes made a nice little statement that he’s learned some lessons in Boston’s preseason debut. The Bruins lost the game, 3-2, in the shootout to the Columbus Blue Jackets, but Hayes scored one of the two goals for the Black and Gold as one of the few veterans in a very youthful lineup for Boston.

The Hayes goal was a nice give-and-go with Jake DeBrusk at the end of a nice transition play in the second period, and was the highlight of a night playing on the right wing with DeBrusk and center Austin Czarnik. The score and a team-high four shots on net for Hayes represent a good start for what he hopes is a gigantic rebound season after last year’s disappointment.

Clearly Hayes heard some of the unflattering chatter about him on sports talk radio and otherwise last season, and may even understand how his difficult season in his home city of Boston -- whether he actively expressed it to him or not -- might have been a factor in his buddy Jimmy Vesey ultimately choosing New York over Boston.

It appears the former Boston College standout is looking to change the conversation in Boston. 

“Yeah, sure am. I’ve got a lot to come out here and…[there were] a lot of comments about myself, but I know I’m a good player. I got to this level for a reason,” said Hayes, who dropped from 19 goals and 35 points with the Panthers to 13 goals, 29 points and a career-worst minus-12 for the Bruins last season.

“To be able to play at the NHL level and continue to play at that level on a consistent basis is what I expect out of myself. I do it for myself and our teammates, and to help our team win. I’ll continue moving forward.

“It’s funny being the old guy on the line. It’s nice to see those young guys and see how excited they are, and how excited I am to get back out there. That’s what I said to the guys, they still have the jitters and they still have them for the first preseason game. It shows that these guys want it and it’s been a lot of fun skating with those guys. They’ve got a lot of speed and to keep pushing the pace. Trying to keep up with them has been a lot of fun.”

There is still a long way to go for the 26-year-old winger, and his willingness to stick around the danger areas on Monday night was a welcomed one for a Bruins team that needs his 6-foot-6 body in front of the net. Hayes paid the price with stitches and a fat lip after taking a Dalton Prout high-stick to the mouth in front of the Columbus net that went uncalled on a Bruins PP at the end of the second period.

That’s all part of the big man’s game on the ice, however. It’s also the kind of battle and determined fight that Hayes will need to show much more consistently in his second season with the hometown Bruins if he’s truly looking to bounce-back from last year’s mediocre performance. 

Carlo 'arguably the best' defenseman for Bruins in preseason opener

bruins-brandon-carlo.jpg

Carlo 'arguably the best' defenseman for Bruins in preseason opener

BOSTON – On a night when many of Boston’s young players stepped up nicely, perhaps none did more so than 19-year-old defenseman Brandon Carlo. The youngster was in a top pair role with John-Michael Liles against a decent Columbus Blue Jackets lineup that included Sam Gagner, Alexander Wennberg, Seth Jones, Brandon Saad and Sonny Milano, and had almost no miscues in his 20:16 of ice time.

Better than that, Carlo notched an assist on the game-tying score in the third period when his right point shot made it through traffic for Danton Heinen to redirect it past Curtis McElhinney from the slot. That left Carlo with an assist, a plus-1 rating and three shots on net in 20:16 of ice time to go along with some heavy battling around the net whenever Blue Jackets players tried to get too close.

“Arguably our best D, if not our best D. [He showed] real good decision-making, and his gaps are good. I can really only think of one time in the third period he kind of threw a puck away in the middle of a change, and ended up on his wrong side,” said Bruins assistant coach Bruce Cassidy. “It wasn’t a bad turnover, but it was just one that he could have made a little bit of a better decision.

“He didn’t handle the puck much in the game, that’s pretty good. He jumped up the ice, got his shot through when it was there, matched up well with whoever he was put out there [against], pushed back in front of our net. [There were] a lot of good things.”

It’s a big training camp for Carlo, who is more than likely earmarked for Providence unless he can utilize a stellar training camp performance to push over one of the seven veteran Bruins D-men with NHL contracts. That means potentially displacing Joe Morrow as the seventh defensemen on the roster, or forcing the Bruins to possibly deal Adam McQuaid or Kevan Miller if the Bruins feel he is ready for the day-to-day NHL grind.

The preseason opener was a good start that the 2015 second round pick was excited about, but things will certainly get more challenging for Carlo as the Bruins get deeper into this training camp.

“I just want to keep the same mentality, same energy. Show a little bit more physicality. I felt like I did that, but definitely could close a little quicker in a few instances overall. I just want to keep building on every game,” said Carlo. “There are some very strong guys on the puck in this league and throughout this game they had those guys out there definitely. Overall, you just have to compete just as hard as them.

“You’re dealing with NHL guys out there. [The Blue Jackets] had some pretty good guys in their lineup tonight and everyone is competing for jobs on both sides…so the speed was phenomenal. I loved it.”

The Bruins loved what they saw of Carlo in a pretty big opportunity right out of the gate this preseason, and now the teenager has set the bar if he wants to keep pushing with a hockey club that needs to upgrade their defense with strong, young players.