The Preds defenseman found himself seventh on the defensive depth chart coming out of training camp in Nashville, bringing about some extra skating and gym sessions for the Maple Ridge, British Columbia native to stay in game shape.
When fellow defenseman Anton Volchenkov was lost due to a four-game suspension starting last Sunday in Vancouver, it was Bartley that filled the void on the Preds backend, seeing his first game action of the 2014-15 campaign.
“It’s been great so far,” Bartley said. “I’ve really enjoyed getting back into the lineup.”
“He’s played very well,” Bartley’s d-partner over the past two games Seth Jones said. “He really defends well, he’s physical and he can create some offense as well at times. It’s been a pleasure playing with him.”
The strength on the blue line has been reflected on the stat sheet for Nashville thus far. Bartley is part of a Predators d-corps that is ranked fifth in the NHL in team goals-against-average at an even 2.00 after Thursday night’s win in Dallas.
Not only are the defensemen getting the job done in their own end, but Bartley attributes some successes due to the all-around responsibilities provided to the team’s blueliners this season.
“The opportunity we have to chip in offensively, jump in the play a little more and keep things alive down in the offensive zone [are all positives],” Bartley said. “[As defensemen], we appreciate that they’ve given us the green light to jump up into the plays to be more offensive, and with that just comes more confidence. The guys are feeling good about it and we’re happy.”
One of the men that sees Bartley play in front of him is also content. Preds goaltender Pekka Rinne was quick to compliment the third-year defenseman and his on-ice attributes.
“He’s been working hard to be ready when he gets that chance and he’s been solid,” Rinne said. “I think that’s what you expect out of him, just that steadiness, keeping it simple and defending really well using his physical presence. I feel like he’s been doing that; keeping it simple and just playing a strong game, giving the easy pass and staying out of trouble, and he’s played really well. It’s a nice problem to have, having seven defensemen like that.”
And Bartley is comfortable no matter the partner he’s paired with, whether it be Jones, or a chance alongside fellow d-men Ryan Ellis or Mattias Ekholm.
“They’re all great defensemen, so anytime you get to play with them, it really makes the game easier,” Bartley said. “It’s easy to read plays with those guys on the ice because they’re so mobile out there. Just playing the game and reading off of them makes things quite easy.”
A theme early on for the Predators is focusing on what they can do internally to be successful as opposed to over-analyzing the opponent. Bartley and his mates are well aware of the necessary strategy in order to attain the end goal night after night.
“We’re not going to be successful worrying about other people,” Bartley said. “We know the personnel we have in our room right now, and we know what we can do. We know our system, we know how to execute it to be successful and the things we’ve put in place have been working for us. We’re just going to continue to execute it to the best of our ability.”
If that execution is carried out properly more often than not, things will continue to trend upward for the Preds. And when it comes to putting that plan to fruition, Bartley is sure to be ready when called upon.
“From our pregame speeches, just knowing what we can do and watching video on how we’ve played in the past, you can tell we can be a dominant team every night,” Bartley said. “It’s just a matter of going out there and executing no matter what building we’re in. We know it’s a long season and things are going to get tough. With the amount of character we have in our room, I have no doubt that we can do great things.”