The next opponent on the Bruins' schedule is Pittsburgh, with the Penguins coming to town on Saturday. That can only mean one thing.
No, not more bad blood with Matt Cooke. Well, actually it probably does mean that too. But first and foremost another matchup with the Penguins means it must be time to call up Matt Bartkowski, and that's just what the Bruins did Friday afternoon.
The first-year pro is slated to play his third career NHL game, and all three just happen to have been against the team the Pittsburgh native grew up watching. Bartkowski made his NHL debut Jan. 10 in Pittsburgh when Mark Stuart and Adam McQuaid were both sidelined, then returned to face the Penguins again at the Garden on Jan. 15 when Stuart and Andrew Ference were injured.
This latest recall comes with the Bruins again shorthanded on defense. Ference is at least a week away from returning after suffering a lower-body injury in Vancouver last Saturday. That allowed Steven Kampfer to return to the lineup for the last three games, but he suffered a mild concussion in Thursday's win over Tampa Bay and will be out at least a week himself.
With recently signed veteran Shane Hnidy still several weeks away from being ready to play as he works his way back from shoulder surgery, the Bruins reached down to their AHL affiliate in Providence and summoned Bartkowski for the third time.
Bartkowski, 22, has 5-16-21 totals and 38 penalty minutes in Providence this season, the first professional campaign for the 6-foot-1, 196-pound Ohio State product. He was originally drafted by Florida in the seventh round in 2008 and acquired from the Panthers in the deadline deal that brought Dennis Seidenberg to Boston for Byron Bitz, Craig Weller and a 2010 second-round pick last March.
Bartkowski enjoyed a strong training camp and traveled with the big club to Prague to start the season, but did not appear in a game with Boston until recalled in January. He played 9:53 and 8:56 in his first two games against Pittsburgh with two hits, a blocked shot, two penalty minutes and a minus-1 rating.
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