In Defense of Matt Bartkowski

Let’s talk about Matt Bartkowski, shall we?

During the 2012-2013 year, Matt Bartkowski played pretty well given the small sample size. Given the 11 games he played, Bartkowski posted a couple of assists, got about 14 minutes of ice time a game with most of it at even strength. It was a good jumping off point in the development of a 25 year old.  In 2013-2014, thanks to the Dennis Seidenberg injury, Bartkowski got regular playing time and proved that he can be a serviceable defenseman. 

But then the playoffs happened and Matt Bartkowski became everything wrong with the Boston Bruins…apparently.

I think the people of Boston have gone a little overboard with blaming Bartkowski for the Bruins demise in the playoffs last season. Yes, Bartkowski made some mistakes which led directly to goals, but guess what – that shit happens. I don’t think running a 26 year old defenseman out of town over a few mistakes is a good idea, especially when the fill-ins are Adam McQuaid and Kevan Miller. We’re talking about two defenseman where one makes more than Bartkowski and is considerably worse outside of his willingness to drop the mitts (which is terribly overrated in this city) and the other one was a sheltered pylon on a third pairing.

Warning: Advanced stats ahead.

Extra Skater is the bomb, but unfortunately I am only able to compare five players’ with one usage chart, hence why Dougie Hamilton isn’t on it. Also – Seidenberg and McQuaid both played under 40 games so their sample size isn’t that great. With that said, lets take a look at this usage chart. Remember, this is regular season only.

Circle size represents average ice time (TOI%). Colour represents possession (5v5 CF%).

Circle size represents average ice time (TOI%). Colour represents possession (5v5 CF%).

So looking at this, what can we take away? Well that is simple. Bartkowski had more TOI% than Miller or Krug. He was trusted more in the defensive zone unlike Miller and Krug (because they were sheltered all year, as I’ve said ad nauseam) and he faced better competition when he was on the ice than Miller (27.4%) and Krug (27.6%).

Why do you think this is?

Do you think it is because Julien and Chiarelli recognize that Bartkowski is a better defensive option than Krug and Miller? It sure seems that way, which is fine because a Bartkowski/Krug pairing could get the job done.

Maybe it is just me.

Maybe I just don’t get the fascination with Kevan Miller and Adam McQuaid anymore. I mean, I get that McQuaid can be useful when you want someone’s face pounded into dust and don’t want to risk Milan Lucic breaking his knuckles on their jaw, but other than that the guy isn’t anything to write home about. When most of your press is because you cut your mullet off rather than how you’ve produced on the ice – there’s an issue.

I didn’t even throw the ᶜᵒʳˢᶦ numbers at you because there’s no point. The usage chart should do the job.

Like I said, I know his glaring mistakes stick out in your head, but remember this is a player who has less than 100 NHL games under his belt (84 to be exact). It isn’t to say that Bartkowski was the only one either. Krug made some crucial mistakes in the Canadiens series as well. Hell – they all did.

One last thing before I end this, Matt Bartkowski was 8th in giveaways for the playoffs with only Johnny Boychuk (1 in 12 games) ranked lower than him.

The only area of concern this year for Bartkowski was the penalties, which usually came from getting beat because he was out of position against better players. For the playoffs, Bartkowski was a -4 in penalty differential (penalties taken – penalties drawn) which ranked him last on the team. Other negatives were Miller (-3), Krug (-1) and Chara (-1). In the regular season, Bartkowski was a -11, which also had him last on the team with Johnny Boychuk (-11) and Zdeno Chara was also down there (-8). So if we’re looking at one bad part of his game – it is something that can be corrected.

I think it would be a mistake to trade Bartkowski as a salary dump move. If you’re not going to get something of value, which the Bruins can’t do because they don’t have any fucking cap money this year, then keep him and have McQuaid or Miller hit the bricks and let the leftover be the 7th defenseman.



About Pez

People seem to like me because I am polite and I am rarely late. I like to eat ice cream and I really enjoy a nice pair of slacks. Years later, a doctor will tell me that I have an I.Q. of 48 and am what some people call mentally retarded.