Hamilton shows rookie jitters in first scrimmage

Hamilton shows rookie jitters in first scrimmage
January 16, 2013, 6:49 pm
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BOSTON -- It was natural that 19-year-old Dougie Hamilton would be battling a few butterflies in his first real moments on the TD Garden ice. Those arrived during the Black and Gold scrimmage on Tuesday night when Boston lost to Providence by a 7-5 score, and Hamilton showed glimpses -- both good and bad -- of what is to come for the talented rookie defenseman.

Hamilton looked smooth moving the puck up the ice, and clearly has the offensive skill to work the puck around the offensive zone from just inside the blue line. But the first-year defenseman also was caught running around in his own zone a bit, and had trouble clearing pucks from the front of his net.

His coach could sense some of the rookie jitters, which are perfectly normal. Hamilton will look to iron those things out of his game, and Claude Julien will bring him along slowly at his own pace while giving him freedom to grow his game.

I thought Dougie was okay. He might have looked a little bit nervous, said Julien. Hes usually more poised with the puck than he was Tuesday night. We kind of expected that its his first game and guys put a lot of pressure on themselves. I think the biggest thing for us will be to calm him down. What I saw . . . was not what I saw in practices this week and, you know, its not what Ive seen in his games at the junior level.

If anything, he really is poised and he sees the passing lanes, and you saw some of that . . . But there was times when he really fought the puck a little bit and realized that the play probably closes a little bit quicker here than at the level he came from.

Hamilton was essentially caught watching when Justin Florek popped in a second-effort loose puck in front of the net, and that cant happen for a Claude Julien-coached team. He also seemed tentative, at times, in simply letting go with his shot from the point and was caught in that no mans land between passing and shooting the puck.

The good thing is that the scrimmage is a learning experience, and Hamilton will take it in that vein.

It was just my first game and new surroundings and just trying to get comfortable and then more confident . . . things like that, said Hamilton. I thought it was good to be able to get out here before the first game and just realize what you need to do and what its like. Obviously its going to be a lot faster in the regular season but just good to get a little bit of adjustment.

Obviously, Im the new guy on the team and this is basically my first game with the team. Im just trying to get more used to it and more comfortable.

Nobody expected Hamilton to be an elite defenseman right off the bat as a fresh-faced, raw-boned teenager, so the scrimmage performance will be looked at as a first step for a rookie that will have plenty of them.