Bartkowski ready for second chance

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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.

Off day for Tuukka Rask plays into rough loss for the Bruins

Off day for Tuukka Rask plays into rough loss for the Bruins

BOSTON – Many times this season Tuukka Rask has bailed out the Bruins when the team was at less than their best.

Monday afternoon was not one of those times as the Bruins goaltender was knocked out of the game after two periods on the way to a listless 4-0 shutout loss to the New York Islanders. Rask allowed three goals on 15 shots in the game’s opening 40 minutes, and was responsible for a very soft goal during the Isles’ three-score barrage in the second period.

After the game Rask wasn’t ducking responsibility for the subpar performance, and admitted he was simply beaten to the short side post on a bad angle shot from Islanders forward Josh Bailey for the soft-serve special.

“I was just late. I picked the wrong seal. It’s one of those [goals] that I should have stopped,” said Rask. “Claude [Julien] mentioned [not taking the Isles lightly] before the game, and the last game we played here they got us. It was a bit of a flat game again last time, and we just woke up too late today. We didn’t want to underestimate them. Any team in this league is good even though the standings might show otherwise. We just never got it going.”

Rask was being kind because the Bruins never actually woke up at all in the first B's shutout loss to the Islanders on home ice in franchise history, and that includes when the Finnish netminder was yanked after the second intermission.

Julien’s act of pulling Rask from a 3-0 game was clearly designed to spark the struggling hockey club, but it did nothing to breathe life into a dead hockey club that simply allowed another goal playing out the string in the third period.

“There are two things that can happen. No. 1, you hope you can spark your team because of the performance in front of him,” said Julien. “If it doesn’t spark your team, [at least] you’re not wasting your number one goaltender’s energy.”

One would expect that Rask will be back between the pipes on Wednesday night against the Red Wings in Detroit, and in hindsight perhaps this Monday matinee might have been a good time to see what Zane McIntyre has to offer as the backup. Instead it will go down as an “off” game for Rask and another inexcusable no-show on home ice for the Black and Gold. 

Bruins admit they 'just weren't ready' to play Isles in shutout loss

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Bruins admit they 'just weren't ready' to play Isles in shutout loss

BOSTON – The Bruins are starting to run out of adjectives and descriptors for these “no-show” performances on home ice.

The Bruins made it twice in two months that they’ve dropped a disappointing dud to one of the Eastern Conference’s worst teams when they came out flat, and never showed any signs of life in a 4-0 loss to the New York Islanders. The lack of effort and pitiful results were particularly disappointing coming off a solid five game stretch where they’d engineered high effort wins over Florida, St. Louis and Philadelphia.

Patrice Bergeron finished a minus-3 on the afternoon, and said in quasi-disgust that he knew five minutes into the game that his team didn’t have “it” on Monday.

“Something that we talked [headed into Monday was] about building from the last few weeks, and how good it felt around the room, I guess, with winning games basically,” said Bergeron. “[The shutout loss] just shows that you have to show up every night and not take things for granted. I think we did [take things for granted] this afternoon.

“It was about finding someone to get us a shift to get us going basically. We had a few good shifts there, and we sustained a little bit of pressure there. But then we just couldn’t keep that for the next lines after going, we couldn’t sustain that or build from that. It was really the whole team throughout the lineup that didn’t show up and, you know, it’s obviously inexcusable, unacceptable.”

Claude Julien mentioned the compacted schedule and potential fatigue playing into the Bruins looking “flat” on Monday against the Islanders, and perhaps that is partially to blame for an uncharacteristically lifeless performance from the Black and Gold. But the B’s essentially did nothing for 60 minutes after not having played for 48 hours dating back to a Saturday afternoon matinee win over the Flyers, so the fatigue excuse is difficult to swallow.

Instead it looked like a Bruins team that thought they were going to roll out the pucks and beat the worst team in the Metro Division that had lost four-of-five games. Instead a defensive zone breakdown led to a Nikolay Kulemin goal midway through the second period, and the Bruins collapsed after that. Josh Bailey tucked a short side goal past a late-reacting Tuukka Rask for a soft serve special allowed by Boston’s ace goaltender, and Kulemin scored again in the second period once the Bruins began cheating at the offensive end of the ice.

To make matters worse, the Bruins showed zero fight or willingness to scratch and claw their way back into the game in the third period. Instead it looked like they quit on two points that could end up being extremely important at the end of the season.

It also looked like the Bruins weren’t ready to play, and that they overlooked the downtrodden Islanders for the second time in as many months.

“Maybe we took them a little lightly, but we just weren’t ready [to play],” said Brad Marchand. “We have to look ourselves in the mirror and all be a little bit better. We all have to be prepared for every game. You can’t look at the guy besides us and think he’s going to do the job. We have to take a little onus on ourselves and all be a little bit better. As a team, again, we have to play the system together and we have to back each other up. We have to play as one unit and we didn’t do that.”

It’s long past the point where the words even matter that the Bruins are uttering after games like Monday afternoon. Instead it’s about results and nothing else, and the B’s were nothing short of putrid in that category against the Islanders with points at a premium this time of year.