WILMINGTON, Mass. -- Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien is not worried about defenseman Matt Bartkowski collapsing under the pressure of facing his hometown team in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Bartkowski, who grew up in Mount Lebanon, Pa., loved the Pittsburgh Penguins as a kid. Now he might get to face the Penguins in the Stanley Cup semifinals starting Saturday.
"He seems pretty excited. He's looking forward to it," Julien said after practice at Ristuccia Arena on Wednesday. "I think at the end of the day he knows who he's playing for and he wants to do well for his team. And the better he does, the better he looks in everybody's eyes, whether it's his hometown that's rooting for the other team or whether it's us. So I don't see an issue with that. I think if anything it's a positive, it's exciting, and you know for sure that he's going to be ready to play."
As expected, Bartkowski was inundated with ticket requests. He said he limited his purchases to his immediate family then told them to take care of the rest. The lines of communication with his friends and family, including some Penguins fans, have been open as well.
"I'll get funny texts every day or calls, stuff like that. But it's all joking around. It's pretty funny," he said.
Bartkowski nearly didn't get a chance to be part of this series. Had Jarome Iginla chose Boston over Pittsburgh when the Calgary Flames were attempting to trade him, the Pennsylvania native would be calling Alberta his professional home.
"It's just part of the business part of hockey. I don't really think about it much. It's out of my hands. I'm happy that it didn't happen, but it's great to be here," Bartkowski said.