PRAGUE — Rookie blue liner Matt Bartkowski has been assigned to Providence of the AHL, completing the Bruins’ mandatory roster trimming to NHL limits.
Bartkowski will stay with the big-league team, which is preparing for its season-opener here on Saturday against the Coyotes, until Sunday night’s flight home, but he will not be able to practice with the club. Could be worse cities in which to be left to one’s own, shall we say, creativeness.
”I thought Bartkowski had a really good camp,” said Boston general manager Peter Chiarelli. ”He showed he can play in this league and he also pushed our other defensemen. He’s a bright player, and right now we think it will help him to play in the minors, get a little stronger. But I was impressed by how well he moves the puck … moves it very efficiently, with nice flat passes. He’s very close to being able to help us.”
Big Bart did not dress for either of the two exhibition games on the team’s Europe trip to Belfast on Saturday or in nearby Liberec, Czech Republic, on Tuesday night.
“Just work hard and keep getting better at it,” said Bartkowski, when asked after the morning practice how he would react if he were demoted to Providence. “Try to keep working at it so I can earn a spot. Overall, I feel great about camp. It’s been a little bit surreal in a way to be here, but at the same time it’s always been my dream, my goal to make it. … I’ll just keep working at it.”
Caron changes sides
Jordan Caron, who spent virtually all of his career at right wing in junior hockey, shifted over to left wing Monday eve for a few shifts after Danny Paille needed time to repair a 15-stich gash below his lower lip.
Caron, expected to be in the lineup vs. Phoenix this weekend, not only enjoyed life on the flip side, but said he would prefer to play left wing.
”Most players, if you ask them where they want to play, they’ll say, ‘Anywhere!’, said coach Claude Julien. ”But he seemed very open to [playing left wing]. He had that opportunity when he played with [Patrice Bergeron and Mark Recchi], and we left it up to them to figure out where they felt the most comfortable.”
Caron played the right side in the Bergeron-Recchi combination, then was shifted away from them after his mediocre performance in Belfast. In Liberec, he initially began the night as a spare forward, but was fed more ice time when he showed some jump filling in for Paille on the Tyler Seguin-Michael Ryder line. He scored a shorthanded goal later, working one of the top PK units with Bergeron (2-3–5 in LIberec).
Blake Wheeler-Patrice Bergeron-Mark Recchi
Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Nathan Horton
Danny Paille-Tyler Seguin-Michael Ryder/Joran Caron
Brad Marchand-Greg Campbell-Shawn Thornton/Brian McGrattan
Today’s defensive pairings
Zdeno Chara-Johnny Boychuk
Mark Stuart-Andrew Ference
Matt Hunwick-Dennis Seidenberg
Matt Bartkowski-Adam McQuaid
Savard to stay close to home
Veteran center Marc Savard, still showing slight signs of improvement while recovering from post-concussion syndrome (PCS), will not fly here to join his teammates.
”He’s in a routine right now and we didn’t want a trip here to interfere with that,” said Chiarelli.
Savard last week began to ride a stationary bike and has added some light weights and stretching to his routine. Still in Boston and under neuro-psych supervision for his myriad PCS symptoms, he has boosted his heart rate to about 120 beats per minute, a very low rate for an elite athlete.