The Bruins announced on Thursday afternoon that 24-year-old defenseman Matt Bartkowski has been recalled from the Providence Bruins. Bartkowski had been mentioned earlier in the series as a possible replacement for the suspended Andrew Ference in Game 2, but instead the Bruins opted to play 19-year-old Dougie Hamilton in his first Stanley Cup playoff game.
So now the Bruins opt to finally recall Bartkowski, and one has to wonder if there’s an injury reason behind pulling him up from the AHL amidst Providence’s first round of the Calder Cup playoffs. Johnny Boychuk absorbed shots to both of his legs and gritted through 23 plus minutes of ice time while memorably soldiering through one shift on one leg in the second period.
“You do anything to keep the puck out of the net,” said Boychuk, when asked what was going through his mind on that shift. “If the puck is coming at your face, then you’re blocking it with your face. If you can’t put any pressure on your foot, then you need to give your goalie time to make the save or stop the puck yourself because you can’t move.
“You want to do anything and everything for your team to win. You had a lot of our guys do a lot of things tonight that they don’t want to, but that’s part of winning.”
The Bruins defensemen made it through the rest of the game with seven hits and seven blocked shots, but perhaps Bartkowski’s recall is connected to the aftermath of the painful blocked shots for Boychuk. If that’s the case then it’s the unfortunate price of intense, physical playoff hockey, but it’s something Bruins head coach Claude Julien is proud to watch his team undertake against a solid Toronto hockey club.
“As much as our opponents have been really good and given us a real good challenge, I’m also proud of the way our guys have handled themselves, they’ve done a great job,” said Julien. “We’ve found ways to win, we’ve blocked shots, we’ve taken our bumps and bruises like everybody else and we’ve just gone about our business.”
Bartkowski was in the middle of Providence’s first round playoff series against the Hershey Bears, and had amassed a team-high five points for the P-Bruins in their first five games. He skated in 11 games with Boston in the regular season during his most successful stint in the NHL to date, and notched a pair of assists while averaging 13:29 time on ice for the Black and Gold. Bartkowski was also famously part of the Jarome Iginla deal with the Calgary Flames that fell apart prior to the NHL trade deadline, and he recovered nicely to finish the season strongly after that fiasco.