At A Glance
Matt Bartkowski entered the '13-'14 season with 20 games of experience accrued over three seasons. In that short time, he averaged 9:10, 6:08 and 13:29 TOI per game while quality of competition in the two seasons prior amounted to 26.3 and 26.2. For reference, no Bruin faced easier competition this year than Shawn Thornton's 26.8.
Bartkowski began the year alternating between the second and third pairing, rotating in and out of the lineup. However, injuries to Adam McQuaid and Dennis Seidenberg thrust Bartkowski and Kevan Miller into the fire. By season's end, Bartkowski was averaging 19:32 per game and was facing a QoC of 28.1. Trial by fire.
I know we all lamented the loss of Seidenberg, but Bartkowski actually proved to be an upgrade upon insertion into the German's spot.
Here's the possession numbers from the four "4th D" personnel. Pay attention to Bartkowski vs. Seidenberg. Though not included, CF% Rel favored Bartkowski as well, by the way.
And here's how they fared alongside Boychuk, the other second pairing d-man:
Possession-wise, Bartkowski was a big upgrade over Seidenberg's abbreviated '13-'14 campaign. Granted, Seidenberg had not set the bar high, but make no mistake - Bartkowski was better.
That's not to say he was without fault. His defensive ability was less than what Seidenberg offered, most notably on the PK.
Let's take a look at Bartkowski's progress from '12-'13 to '13-14. We'll use rate stats (all even strength) since the massive increase in games played would skew total stats:
|SP/60||P/60||S/60||CF% Rel||SF%||SF% Rel||GF%||CF/60||CA/60||Most Popular Partner||CF% Together||CF% Apart||CF% Teammate Apart|
|2012-2013||10.8||0.82||3.7||4.1%||51.4%||0.8%||50%||65.8||49.8||Dennis Seidenberg (79:55)||60.4%||52.7%||52.8%|
|2013-2014||6.6||0.91||4.7||-1.4%||51.2%||-2.5%||61%||58||51.3||Johnny Boychuk (535:52)||54.2%||52.4%||56%|
It would seem that Bartkowski's taken a step back, especially looking at possession. While shots were up, corsi for, corsi against and corsi rel were all down. I think you have to account for the big jump in quality of competition, but does that outweigh the drop?
Consider how he performed compared to his peers. Looking at the d men that played the 4th most minutes on his team, here's where Bartkowski ranks. Not great, but not exactly terrible either.
And then there was the playoffs. Despite 64 regular season games (4th among Bruins D), Bartkowski appeared in just eight of Boston's 12 games and ended up in Claude Julien's doghouse due to poor defensive performance. He wasn't terrible - first among D in CF% Rel (excluding Potter's cameo) - but he was directly responsible for multiple goals.
Despite a strong on-ice goal differential, he was a victim of what Tyler Dellow describes as "The Big Mistake." People remember The Big Mistake.
I find that very unfortunate (especially when it applies to Marchand). Nonetheless, these are the kinds of things that doesn't bode well for an RFA that doesn't exactly have a track record.
I'm a Bartkowski defender. He's too good of a skater to simply give up on in my opinion. When we get zone entry data, I'm confident it will back up what my eyes have seen. That being said, I feel he's a bit over his head on the second pairing - at least right now.
At 26 going on 27, he's not a kid anymore. Third pairing might be his ceiling. The Bruins have to decide if that's worth keeping him around for.
2013-2014 was a mixed bag for Bartkowski, to say the least. I think he was put in a position he wasn't ready for, but he held his own. With that being said, I will grade his season as...