Bartkowski has nine NHL games under his belt over the past two seasons, but the young defenseman is still looking for his first point at the NHL level. Unfortunately, he was sent down to the Providence Bruins before the end of this year's training camp, but that doesn’t mean the young defender won’t be back.
“I was the last cut the past two years, so I have a little extra motivation from that,” Bartkowski said. “It is just motivation to fix the little things that I need to fix in all the areas I need work in to make the team.”
Bartkowski has good puck-moving abilities, but since his college days at Ohio State, the young rearguard has developed a presence at both ends of the ice.
“In my first year at Providence I was pretty inconsistent [with my play],” Bartkowski said.
“In one game I would be offensive, and then in the next I would be more defensive. Last year I thought I was much better in both ends of the ice. I was really trying to focus on being very solid defensively, but when I had the puck I was trying to focus on moving my feet and moving the puck too.”
Entering his third full season at the professional level, Bartkowski is inching closer to becoming an NHL regular. With nine NHL games under his belt, he has been able to take in a lot of knowledge.
“Playing in nine games already has helped me a lot,” Bartkowski said.
“The puck movement is a lot faster, so you really have to be able to react to what is going on. From my stand point I know I didn’t have a great showing [in those games], so that is even more motivation to get back into the lineup. I want to be able to put a solid effort in, and be able to string a few games together.”
Bartkowski was only one of a handful of players to even be invited to this year's camp, so that also speaks volumes to where the Bruins view him within the organization.
“He hasn’t disappointed here in camp, and he is among the group of guys who have been in Providence that I can certainly fit into our lineup,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said about Bartkowski.
“Bartkowski has been with us for three years now, and he has seen some stints here and there. He is a real good puck-moving defenseman that is pretty shifty and smart. There are a lot of good things that I have noticed in his game.”
Bartkowski has a little ways to go if he wants to replicate Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg on the ice, but Bartkowski has been studying the way Seidenberg plays. Bartkowski is trying to implement some of Seidenberg’s game into his own.
“I like the way that [Dennis] Seidenberg plays the game, and I try to watch him as much as I can,” Bartkowski said. “I try to take what he does and put it into my own game, like his intensity and compete level. He plays around the net, and he is really good at using his size, so I try to take those, too.”
Although it was a while ago, Bartkowski was able to use his time at Ohio State to get bigger and stronger. When Bartkowski was done with junior his body wasn’t close to where he wanted it to be.
“Coming out of juniors I wasn’t as strong as I am now, and going to college you have five days a week to practice and lift,” Bartkowski said. “You spend the entire season and summer getting stronger, so having all that gym time definitely helped.”
Bartkowski will have to keep chugging away down in Providence for now, but it is only a matter of time before he will have another crack at the NHL.
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