Hamilton continues to impress vs. Rangers

988539.jpg

Hamilton continues to impress vs. Rangers

NEW YORK It took 12 attempts, but the Bruins power play finally struck gold on Wednesday night against the Rangers. It was the first goal of the game for Boston in the second period that finally breathed some life back into the B's, and the only goal scored in five chances on the man advantage in their 4-3 overtime loss.

It was more than that, though. The goal was another example of the growing legend of 19-year-old Dougie Hamilton, who seems to keep getting better with each passing game and showing more of what can do with the puck.

"He's very good. I didn't realize how offensively talented he was," said Brad Marchand, who deflected Hamilton's shot past Henrik Lundqvist. "He came in and he's quarterbacking our power play and making so many of the right plays. The one thing I've noticed is that he's getting so many pucks through traffic and he's finding a lane. That's what he did on that first goal."

There are still hiccups, of course.

In the first period, Hamilton wandered far away from the net as Rangers attackers were foraging deep into the Boston zone, and was nowhere close to where he needed to be as Marian Gaborik slammed a rebound of a Michael Del Zotto shot past Tuukka Rask.

The rookie was out of position and looked shaky for parts of the first period, as to be expected in his rookie season during a big spot on the road. But the 6-foot-5 hockey prospect shaped up his game in the final two periods as the rest of the Bruins pushed back against the Rangers.

Hamilton led the Bruins with four shots on goal and exhibited the kind of poise only special players possess in the NHL during their formative teenage years.

Hamilton fired a puck from the high slot into heavy traffic during the successful power play, and Marchand was able to tip the shot past King Henrik for Bostons first goal. The scoring sequence allowed the Bruins to say theyre now 1-for-14 on the power play this season, and also marked Hamiltons first NHL point as a PP assist.

To the surprise of nobody, Hamilton thought the honor was pretty neat given the circumstances of a fresh-faced rookie playing against some tough NHL customers in their building.

Is it something hell always remember?

"I think so . . . yeah," Hamilton said. "With it being a road game it was cool to be here. Its nice to be able to get that assist, but losing still sucks though."

Everything Hamilton is doing continues to impress Bruins officials. There is nothing that sucks about him.

The young defenseman played with Andrew Ference as a pairing, and it marked the third straight different defensive partner hes had in three games -- first with Dennis Seidenberg, then Chara and now Ference. Hamilton was walking the blue line while dangling the puck like a master tightrope walker on power play point, and on several occasions later in the game turned up the offensive pressure by attacking the net when he thought his team might need it.

Those are the kinds of things nobody has seen a defenseman do in a Spoked B sweater in a long, long time.

Anybody who watched the game tonight had to see that this guy was outstanding, said Claude Julien talking about his rookie. Hes not just good, but outstanding. He was so poised and confident. If anybody thinks that this kid cant play in this league then they need to take a look at this game.

I really, really liked his game. Its not just defensively, either. Its offensive, too. He made a great play on the power play and then on the first few seconds of regulation hes so poised with the puck rather than turning it over. I dont know what more to say about him, but I think his teammates are seeing the Dougie Hamilton that everybody is projecting. Were going to make sure to keep his confidence up.

The pressure now goes to the rest of the Bs power play unit with Hamilton beginning to find his offensive range. The first team struggled to keep the puck in the zone, acted passively when they had the puck in the offensive zone and consistently chose poorly when given the choice between shooting or passing the puck around.

So a change in mindset is still important, and results even more so.

"Poise "was one of the big adjectives used to describe Hamilton with regard to other rookies, and there doesnt seem to be a limit to what he can do. He showed good creativity in a series of one-man rushes into the attack zone later in the game, and said he opened up his game "because his team needed a goal in the third period."

There was also a simple play at the end of regulation where Hamilton flipped the puck high up in the air away from danger as the seconds ticked down at MSG.

Thats exactly the kind of cunning a reed-thin 19-year-old hockey prospect can utilize as a great strength in his first tour around the NHL, and something that doesn't go unnoticed by a B's coaching staff that appreciates smart play whether it's a 19-year-old or a 39-year-old making the smart hockey play.

Sweeney: Bruins head to market seeking 'transitional defenseman'

haggs_tr052516_1280x720_692564547861.jpg

Sweeney: Bruins head to market seeking 'transitional defenseman'

BOSTON -- This isn't exactly a state secret: The Bruins are on the lookout for a puck-moving, top-pairing defenseman who can help their transition game, and aid them in more easily breaking the puck out of their own zone.

The B's basically had two top-4 defensemen on their roster last season -- Torey Krug and Zdeno Chara were the only two on the Boston roster who topped 20 minutes of ice time per game -- and tried to fill in the blanks with Kevan Miller, Adam McQuaid, Dennis Seidenberg and several other young blueliners. Their success, or lack thereof, is reflected in the fact they finished 19th in the league in goals allowed.

So general manager Don Sweeney said during a Wednesday conference call with reporters that the team is in search of a “transitional” defenseman, and will do whatever is necessary to acquire one.

In Sweeney's words, the Bruins will be “aggressive” and pursue improving the hockey club “in any way, shape or form".

There are plenty of signs that Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk could figure prominently in Boston’s trade pursuits this summer, and free agents Keith Yandle and Alex Goligoski would be immediate upgrades in the “transitional defenseman” department. But the Bruins were also on a mission to get a “transitional defenseman” last season as well, and came up empty (aside from early season flameout Matt Irwin and 35-year-old journeyman John-Michael Liles acquired at the trade deadline).

They had grand plans to trade up in the first round of last year's draft and nab Boston College's Noah Hanifin. But -- after dealing Dougie Hamilton to the Calgary Flames for three 2016 draft picks -- they were unable to move into position to draft Hanifan.

So it’s clear that making efforts to land that elusive defenseman, and actually closing the deal, are two extremely different things.

Toward that end, Sweeney also talked about looking for defensive help from within the organization. 

“We’ve had talks with (Krug, a restricted free agent) and we’ll find, whatever term that ends up being . . . we’ll find a contract for him," said Sweeney. "But we’re looking for balance. We’re also looking for players like Colin Miller to take the next step. We’ve got younger players that will hopefully push, and that’s what you want.

“You want the depth of the organization to be there for the younger players to push somebody out because they’re ready to play . . . (young players such as) [Matt] Grzelcyk and [Rob] O’Gara. And [I] just came back from seeing [Jeremy] Lauzon play. You know [we're] very excited about the trajectory of that player and the possibility (of his making the NHL roster) down the road, depending on what his development curve looks like and when he gets in here and [starts] playing against the men.

“We’ve got pieces in place that will hopefully push the group that we currently have and that’s what you want. You want that internal competition that players feel like they better perform."

But, he added, "we’re also looking outside the marketplace because we need to continue to transition the puck better.”

Wednesday, May 25: Are you #TeamHaggs or #TeamFrich?

cp-morning-skate.jpg

Wednesday, May 25: Are you #TeamHaggs or #TeamFrich?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while wrapping my brain around exactly what the heck the Bruins are doing.

-- In the shameless self-promotion department: Fred Toucher and yours truly did battle this morning over the $10 million contract that the Bruins handed out to Kevan Miller. Are you #TeamHaggs or #TeamFrich?

-- What do the Dallas Stars need in the 2016 NHL Draft, with the combine and draft both coming up just weeks away.

-- A nice tribute from Hockey Night in Canada to the Tragically Hip as their front man battles through terminal brain cancer.

-- Damien Cox puts together his Team Canada list for the World Cup of hockey. Check out Brad Marchand's line: He plays left wing with Jonathan Toews and Tyler Seguin. That would be very fun to watch.

-- With the Bruins signing Kevan Miller to a bloated four-year, $10 million contract, similar defensemen like Eric Gryba will be lining up at the trough.

-- FOH (Friend of Haggs) Kevin Kurz weighs in on the Sharks run to within one win of the Stanley Cup Final, and what a player like Joe Pavelski has meant to them in the postseason.

-- For something completely different: It sounds like things are getting a little strange with Marco Rubio.

Haggs and Fred Toucher debate signing of Kevan Miller

haggs_tr052516_1280x720_692564547861.jpg

Haggs and Fred Toucher debate signing of Kevan Miller

Fred Toucher and Joe Haggerty disagree about the new deal the Boston Bruins gave Kevan Miller and got in a heated debate Wednesday morning on Toucher & Rich.

Haggerty says the Bruins would be better off with "players on entry level deals" over Miller for the money he'll received.

Miller signed a four-year deal worth $10 million on Monday.

As for Toucher? Watch the video above for his response. Then comment below with your thoughts on the deal.