CALGARY — The Bruins will have some company when they head to Edmonton this week: Malcolm Subban.
Boston is planning to recall the goaltender from Providence, according to general manager Peter Chiarelli, and he will join the team on its next stop, Wednesday in Edmonton. Subban is expected to see his first NHL action on the road trip, which continues through St. Louis and Chicago.
“If we’re bringing him back, which is what we had talked about at some point, it’s probably to give him an opportunity here along the way,” coach Claude Julien said before the Bruins’ 4-3 overtime loss to the Flames on Monday night.
It is possible the Bruins could be showcasing Subban for a potential trade. Tuukka Rask, after all, is the established starter in Boston after signing an eight-year, $56 million contract in July 2013. The trade deadline is March 2, and the Bruins could use some reinforcements.
Boston, though, also made a similar move last season, when Niklas Svedberg came up for one game in January. He beat Nashville on Jan. 2, at a time when then-backup goalie Chad Johnson was struggling. Johnson recovered to provide valuable goaltending down the stretch.
Subban already spent some time in the NHL this month, when the Bruins sent Svedberg to Providence on a conditioning assignment. Subban was recalled on Jan. 30 and sent back to the AHL on Feb. 9, without having seen any action.
“I think we went through that with our goaltender last year, with Chad Johnson,” Julien said. “He still remained our No. 2 goaltender. All it is is No. 1 is competition, No. 2 is an opportunity. Malcolm was with us for the week there, we didn’t get a chance to play him. Maybe after a week and going back, maybe he gets that opportunity.”
For his part, Svedberg did not play well in his last opportunity with the Bruins. He started against Dallas on Feb. 10 and lasted just one period before Julien opted to replace him with Rask. Svedberg gave up three goals on 10 shots in that game, his first in the NHL since Jan. 8.
Svedberg played four games in the AHL on his conditioning stint, going 3-1-0 with a 2.76 goals-against average and a .911 save percentage, but he has seen little action in the NHL. Svedberg has played twice since Dec. 27, and has been pulled in two of his last three starts for the Bruins.
“It’s not my decision, so I’m just going to focus on my stuff,” Svedberg said when asked about Subban’s recall. “That’s it for me.”
The current Bruins backup was hard on himself after the Dallas game, saying that his performance was unacceptable, especially given that the Bruins had been trying to give Rask the night off. Rask has played in 13 consecutive games, and in 22 of the last 23.
“I think my game feels pretty good in practice and I played four games in Providence and felt good,” Svedberg said Monday. “It really bothers me I didn’t play well last game. It’s my own fault. That’s the way it is sometimes; especially when you don’t play as much you’ve got to take the chance when you get it, and last time I didn’t.
“It was a disappointing game for me, but you can’t really walk around thinking about that anymore.’’
Bartkowski back in
It has been a long time since Matt Bartkowski has gotten the chance to take the ice for the Bruins in a game, with the defenseman sitting in the press box as a healthy scratch for the last 17 games. His last game was on Dec. 31 against Toronto, ending a stretch of six games in the lineup. But on Monday night he re-entered the lineup, replacing Adam McQuaid.
“It’s always difficult not playing,” said Bartkowski, who got 13:02 of ice time against the Flames. “I try to practice as hard as I can. There’s only so much you can do in practice. But, I mean, if you go hard you’re making your teammates better and everybody starts going harder. If the hardest team you’re playing against is in practice, then you’ve got a pretty good chance of winning every game. You’re not going to get any better unless you try that hard, your team’s not going to get any better unless you try that hard.”
Bartkowski has played 20 of the Bruins’ first 55 games, averaging 17:40 of ice time. He played in 64 games last season. He has been through these long stretches out of the lineup before, which he said makes it easier to know what to do, though he added it’s never easy to handle.
“Just be simple and quick to start,” Bartkowski said of his strategy on returning to the lineup. “Just whatever your first decision is, just make it.
“The right one, the wrong one, just try and be as simple as you can until you get back into the swing of things and you can start making a few plays that maybe you wouldn’t have made at the beginning of the game.”
The Bruins lost Kevan Miller with 5:43 left in the second. The defenseman, who played 12:31, did not return because of an undisclosed injury. Julien said, “We’ll see what comes out of it, but it doesn’t look good.”
Miller has been an important part of the team’s defense this season since he returned Nov. 21 from a separated shoulder.
Though he has abandoned the fighting part of his game because of the shoulder injury, Miller has played a mostly steady defense.
He leads the team in plus/minus at plus-20 while playing an average of 18:10 of ice time.
The Flames’ Johnny Gaudreau said that while he was playing for Boston College, his allegiances switched from the Flyers to the Bruins, so he said it would be special to play his first career game against Boston.
“I think Boston’s such a big hockey city,” Gaudreau said. “There’s a ton of college hockey teams, the Bruins are up there. I know there’s a lot of support throughout the whole city.
“So I really enjoyed my time, my three years there.” Gaudreau has 15 goals and 28 points for the surprising Flames in his rookie season.