Hamilton continues to impress vs. Rangers

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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.

Julien wonders whether Bruins shutout loss was fatigue-related

Julien wonders whether Bruins shutout loss was fatigue-related

BOSTON – The Bruins didn’t show anything on the ice in Monday afternoon’s 4-0 matinee loss, and that’s not really any kind of an overstatement.

The scoring chances were almost nonexistent despite 32 shots on net, the second period was dreadful as the Bruins gave up three goals over the course of a six minute span and there was zero added urgency in the third period once the B’s fell behind. The emotion was missing from the drop of the puck to open the game and it never showed up once the Islanders began taking control of the game.

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It was a bitterly disappointing result after the Black and Gold had played so well in their previous five games, and put in strong, winning efforts against the Panthers, Blues and Flyers.

On Monday afternoon, the passes were sloppy and errant all over the ice, there was zero physicality and the Bruins buckled once the Isles turned the intensity up just a little bit in the second period. The game was basically over once Nikolay Kulemin snapped one home wide open from the slot area with Torey Krug, Adam McQuaid and David Krejci all blowing their defensive assignments, and then Tuukka Rask followed it up by allowing a softie to Josh Bailey from a bad angle close to net.  

So Bruins head coach Claude Julien termed it a “flat” performance once it was all over with, and openly wondered whether it was fatigue-related result linked to the compacted schedule Boston has played through this season. Monday marked the seventh straight day that the Bruins held some kind of formal skate, though most of the veteran B's players stayed off the ice during last week's Wednesday off-day practice in Nashville.   

“We were flat tonight, obviously, flat from the get-go. I think that first half of the game, we didn’t give much until they scored that first goal. We were able to stay in, but we certainly weren’t generating much ourselves, from that point of view,” said Claude Julien. “His is really the first year, for me as well, going through a condensed schedule, and I’m certainly not using that as an excuse, is it fatigue?. . . But we were flat tonight. How do you explain it? I don’t know. I know that it’s frustrating. I know that it’s disappointing. That’s all I can say.

“Whether it’s mental fatigue, whatever it is. We made some mistakes tonight like, from the goals you look at, we weren’t even in the position that we’re normally in. So we were totally out of whack, as far as even defending. When you give that first goal that much room in the middle of the ice, your D’s go on the wrong side, your weak-side forward is way on the other side, and you open up the slot area, that’s something I haven’t seen much of this year. I think it said a lot from our game tonight.”

The compacted schedule certainly could be a factor for a Bruins team that’s played more games than anybody else in the Eastern Conference to this point, but the B’s also had 48 hours to recharge after winning a Saturday matinee over the Flyers. So the fatigue excuse seems a little far-fetched for a hockey club that’s no-showed a few too many times this season, and did it again on Monday afternoon against one of the worst teams in the NHL.