BOSTON -- Perhaps the best thing one could say about Dougie Hamilton in his NHL debut Saturday night was that he was barely noticed.
The 19-year-old didnt seem out of place while logging 13 minutes and 40 seconds of ice time, and didnt make any mistakes that significantly handcuffed the Bruins in their 3-1 victory over the New York Rangers at TD Garden.
Instead, the biggest plays Hamilton made were in the defensive zone. He won battles with the intense Ryan Callahan in front of the Boston net, and knocked a puck away from danger when Derek Stepan tried to feed Marian Gaborik wide open on the backdoor.
Hamilton was simply trying to be an effective defenseman while also enjoying the achievement of a lifelong dream.
It was really fun. Just looking around, it put a smile on my face every time, he said. I kind of had to remember I was playing. Just so much fun, and I look forward to the rest of the games.
Coach Claude Julien detected some tentativeness and nerves in the offensive end from the former 2011 first-round pick, who had a pair of shots on net and three hits in his maiden NHL voyage. Still, Hamilton was rarely hemmed into his own zone and seemed to fit in nicely with his defensive partner, Dennis Seidenberg.
He was good, he was fine, said Julien. You know, again, it was a matter of him getting through it, and if anything he seemed to get more and more comfortable as the game went on. As I mentioned this morning, what this guy lacks is experience and the only way hes going to get it is by playing.
But everything else was there, and you know hes used to playing against 16- to 20-year-olds and now hes playing against men. I thought he handled the corners and the battles pretty well.
It wasnt a night with gaudy offensive numbers or flashy passes while manning the point on the power play, but Hamilton proved he can contribute in a playoff-style atmosphere against the best the Eastern Conference has to offer. Thats a great start for a defenseman that should be suited up in Black and Gold for a long, long time to come.