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Kampfer says hit warranted a penalty

By Fluto Shinzawa
Globe Staff / March 6, 2011

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In the language of today’s NHL game, Mattias Ritola’s wallop of Steven Kampfer was a north-south hit. When the Tampa Bay forward lined up Kampfer Thursday at TD Garden, the first-year Bruins defenseman saw him approaching. After Ritola clobbered Kampfer, neither referee (Rob Martell nor Stephen Walkom) blew his whistle.

But what irks Kampfer, who was left with a mild concussion, is that Ritola never attempted to play the puck.

“I saw the tape,’’ said Kampfer yesterday. “It kind of rubs me the wrong way that there was no penalty on the play, because he had no intention of playing the puck.

“It bothered me that way. I thought it was a clean hit because my body was square. But it’s not fun when you’re not expecting a hit.’’

The bottom line is that Kampfer missed last night’s 3-2 overtime loss against Pittsburgh, and is due to sit out a handful more. Standard operating procedure is that players with mild concussions are expected to miss a week of play.

But given Kampfer’s concussion history and the Bruins’ recent dealings with head injuries to Marc Savard and Patrice Bergeron, the defenseman could be off the ice longer than a week.

Kampfer suffered a concussion during his junior year at the University of Michigan. He was attacked by Michigan State’s Andrew Conboy and Corey Tropp during a game Jan. 24, 2009.

Kampfer said he didn’t know immediately after Ritola’s hit that he had sustained a concussion. Upon returning to the bench and talking with trainer Don DelNegro, Kampfer started to experience a headache.

He played one more shift in the second period. But when his headache worsened, Kampfer and the medical staff decided to shut him down before the third period.

“We’re going to take it day by day,’’ Kampfer said. “I’m feeling better each day we go on, which is a positive thing. At the same time, we’ve got a lot of the season left. You don’t want to rush back from something like this and have it keep happening over and over again.

“Just make sure I’m totally symptom-free before I start skating again or even biking. They’re going to take things extra slow.’’

The Bruins have three games in four days this week: Tuesday in Montreal, Thursday at home against Buffalo, and Friday on Long Island. Kampfer is not expected to play in any of them.

Up for Penguins The Bruins brought up Matt Bartkowski on emergency recall Friday. Last night was Bartkowski’s third NHL game. All have come against Pittsburgh, his hometown team. Bartkowski is from Mount Lebanon, Pa., a Pittsburgh suburb.

“I only play against Pittsburgh,’’ Bartkowski cracked. “It’s ironic. It’s getting funny, though.’’

Bartkowski’s previous recalls were one-game stints. But with Kampfer unavailable and Andrew Ference (lower body) scheduled to resume skating tomorrow, Bartkowski could be up for a handful of games.

Bartkowski looked jumpy, as expected, in the previous games with the Bruins. An extended recall could give him a chance to settle into the NHL pace.

“He’s got some experience against them,’’ said coach Claude Julien before the game. “Hopefully it will help him and make him relax a little bit more.

“He’s a guy we know is a good player and will eventually be with the team. He just continues to progress down there. Let’s see how good he is now that he’s on his third call-up.’’

Bartkowski was paired mostly with Dennis Seidenberg. Bartkowski skated 13 shifts for 9:13 of ice time and was credited with one hit and one blocked shot. The rookie didn’t look more comfortable than he did in his two previous showings.

Most recently, Bartkowski had been paired with new acquisition Boris Valabik in Providence.

Boychuk getting there The Zdeno Chara-Johnny Boychuk defense pairing hasn’t been as solid this season as it was for most of last year. Last month, Boychuk was a healthy scratch for two games, indicating the coaching staff’s impatience with his on-and-off game.

Lately, Boychuk has reclaimed the calm, consistent, thump-first approach that made him a pleasant surprise last season. Last Saturday, Boychuk and Chara shut down Henrik and Daniel Sedin, Vancouver’s explosive aces.

On Thursday, Boychuk and Chara kept Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis off the score sheet. Boychuk threw the hit of the night when his hip check stapled ex-Bruin Nate Thompson into the boards.

“I think confidence plays a big role in that,’’ said Julien. “When things aren’t going your way, you don’t always have the confidence to do the things you did before. Sometimes it’s a progression. You do a little better game after game and eventually you find that again.’’

Hit man Seidenberg led all players with seven hits. Seidenberg’s loudest wallop was in the third, when he laid out Kris Letang in the neutral zone . . . Shawn Thornton squared off with fellow heavyweight Michael Rupp at 2:59 of the first. Rupp initiated the fight with a hit on Thornton. After some chatter, both dropped their mitts and engaged at center ice. The 6-foot-5-inch, 230-pound Rupp got the best of Thornton. Rupp landed a straight right late in the fight, then took down Thornton . . . Late in the first, Nathan Horton squared off with Craig Adams after a net-front pileup. Horton had the better shots in a quick scrap . . . The Bruins were blanked on their only power play. They are 0 for 12 in their last six games . . . Mark Recchi passed Scott Stevens for sixth on the all-time games played list (1,636) . . . Julien said he expects Bergeron to be available for practice tomorrow. The Bruins are off today . . . Tyler Seguin, a healthy scratch Thursday, rode the third line with Chris Kelly and Michael Ryder. By the third period, Seguin was centering the fourth line between Daniel Paille and Thornton.

Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at fshinzawa@globe.com.

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