Depth shows in Bruins young D-men rotation

Depth shows in Bruins young D-men rotation
October 21, 2013, 7:30 pm
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Dougie Hamilton has been out since sustaining a "mild concussion" Jan. 11 vs. San Jose.

(USA Today Sports Images)

WILMINGTON – In the past the Bruins have established a pretty solid top six defensemen corps and utilized a spare defenseman, normally a veteran guy or a journeyman AHL player that didn’t need any more minor league seasoning, to start the NHL season.

But it was clear things might be a little different when the B’s young D-men emerged during last year’s playoffs, and that’s exactly the way it’s played out for the Black and Gold this season. Matt Bartkowski, Dougie Hamilton and Adam McQuaid have already been healthy scratches this season for the Black and Gold through seven games in a true defensemen rotation employed by the Bruins coaching staff.

“The guys that are sitting out are young. They’re prospects that we feel have a lot of potential,” said Claude Julien. “A guy like Bartkowski has paid his dues down there [in the AHL], so we certainly don’t want him sitting out too long. [Dougie] Hamilton is also a guy that certainly belongs here.

“In my mind those seven [defensemen] are really good. The other guys we’ve had in the past were probably told that they would be the seventh [defensemen], and that they would play sporadically. So it’s a bit of a different situation this year.”

While it will continue to spin on a different axis with Julien hinting that Torey Krug will also get some time playing defensemen in the right side rather than his customary left, there are also things that stay the same for the Black and Gold. The entire defensemen corps has traditionally played with different partners throughout the season to make sure everybody is comfortable playing with each other, and that’s something that’s continued this season.

It’s something each defensemen will experience during the season with Dennis Seidenberg one of the most valuable pieces while swinging back-and-forth on the left and right side of the ice. It’s something Zdeno Chara believes keeps each of his defensemen ready for any situations thrown at them during a particular game.

“It’s something we’ve done a lot over the last few years, and I think it’s important to feel comfortable playing with different defensive partners. You never know when things could change whether it’s because of injuries or game situations,” said Chara. “But you’d rather not get to a key situation in a game playing with somebody that you’ve never played with before, and switching up partners definitely helps keep that from happening.”

Another factor that’s adding to the success of the defensemen rotation for the Bruins this season: both Hamilton and McQuaid have kicked in goals in their first game in the lineup after being a healthy scratch.

It’s a sure indicator of the competitive situation the Bruins have among seven credible, talented NHL defensemen with different talents fighting for playing time on a nightly basis.