– When the Boston Bruins beat the Nashville Predators 4-3 in a shootout last Saturday, Providence Bruins defenseman Matt Bartkowski
and several teammates enjoyed the view from the press box.
|Bartkowski (click here for the full prospect report). |
Bartkowski and his teammates were there to enjoy the game, but they also picked up a few lessons too.
“It helps to watch, and there’s the cliché ‘the game’s much easier from top’ and it is,” he said. “You can see everything and mistakes are more evident. It’s good to watch and learn from all the players.”
But for the 23-year old Pittsburgh native, the greatest lessons of all come from playing on the ice – and those lessons began in training camp back in September.
“Getting to be able to play against NHL players really helped a lot,” Bartkowski said.
“[The Bruins] have a really good, veteran core of defensemen from [Zdeno] Chara to [Dennis] Seidenberg – all of them you know.
“Most of them have played in the league for years with the exception of [Adam] McQuaid – but even he is sound defensively. You can learn from each one of them.”
With Providence, Bartkowski has three goals and 17 assists, and is tied with David Warsofsky
for most points among Providence defenseman (20).
But as he progresses through the season, he isn’t focused as much on stats as he is sharpening the small facets of his game.
“Just my play in front of the net, and then with the puck below the lower goal line,” Bartkowski said when asked about what he’s been working on. “Making sure I make better passes – better decisions. I’ve just worked at it all year.”
Bartkowski and the Providence Bruins (23-22-3, 52 pts) are pushing for the eight-seed in the playoffs, and are tied with the Albany Devils for 11th in the Eastern conference.
But the Worcester Sharks, who are in eighth place, are within striking distance at 55 points.
“We didn’t get off to as good a start as we wanted,” Bartkowski said. “We’re pretty young compared to other teams, so it took a little bit to get going.
“But right now we’re playing well – good team defense playing our systems. We certainly want to put wins together, and hopefully we can hang on to that 8th spot or even jump up a bit and give ourselves a little bit of a cushion in the playoffs.”
Around Bartkowski, some of his Providence Bruins teammates are making the jump to Boston, while some are being sent back down.
Most recently, Josh Hennessy
and Andrew Bodnarchuk
were recalled, while Steven Kampfer and Zach Hamill
However, the constant movement of players isn’t distracting Bartkowski – instead, it keeps him focused.
“It makes me hungry, but I understand at the same time where I am and what I need to do on a regular basis to be there,” Bartkowski said. “I just want to be ready if they need somebody to step up in Boston – I’d like to be that guy and be prepared everyday for it. [But in Providence] we got to get in the playoffs [first] and go from there.” --- Anthony Gulizia