COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Patience finally paid off for Bruins defenseman Matt Bartkowski. as he found himself in the lineup for the first time Saturday after sitting out the first three games of the season as a healthy scratch.
Bruins coach Claude Julien opted to sit Dougie Hamilton as a healthy scratch after a decent opening three games for the 20-year-old defenseman, and Bartkowski skated on the left side with the ever-versatile Dennis Seidenberg flipping over to the right.
Bartkowski admitted he was a little rusty in the Bruins' 3-1 victory over the Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena, but he improved as the game went along – the very same trajectory the team took in the win.
“It definitely felt good to get in there play, and it felt even better that we won the game,” said Bartkowski. “I’m looking at this as doing everything I can to make it difficult for the coaches to take me back out of the lineup. I’m not really looking on it as pressure to perform when I do get a chance.”
Bartkowski finished with 14:47 of ice time on 22 shifts. He generated four shots on net, threw a couple of hits and blocked a shot. Perhaps more importantly, he wasn’t at the heart of any egregious plays that led to a goal against, and gave the Bruins little reason to take him out of the lineup.
Julien did say after the win that the defense corps wasn’t particularly good against the Blue Jackets.
“Our backcheck was pretty good, but I don’t think the backline moved the puck as well as they could,” said Julien. “It kind of took away from our game. Our whole back end struggled in my mind, and that took away from our whole team. The forwards really stepped up and then things got a little better in the third period.
“At that time in the game we started using our points a little bit more, and spread them out a little bit.”
It was Crystal Light clear the Bruins missed Hamilton’s point presence on the power play. So it wouldn’t shock anyone if Hamilton was back in for Bartkowski on Monday afternoon against the Red Wings, and the B’s defense corps will need to get used to the rotation thing this season with seven worthy candidates for playing time.