Hamilton could be in Boston sooner than expected


Hamilton could be in Boston sooner than expected

When Dougie Hamilton took part in Bruins development camp last summer it was pretty clear just how high his ceiling could be as a professional. It was also apparent just how much work the 18-year-old had in front of him to develop the required strength to compete at the NHL level.

But Hamilton steadily improved through that week of camp and showed flashes of excellence before getting returned to his OHL team, the Niagara Ice Dogs, for the upcoming junior season. Last week, the Bs announced Hamilton's new three-year entry level contract prior to his foray into the World Junior Hockey Tournament with Team Canada.

I dont think I was really too focused on the contract too much. I just wanted to improve everyday and work hard, said Hamilton, who has 12 goals and 45 points in 30 games this season. I just want to get better and do the things I need to do in order to achieve my dreams.

So I think thats one step closer to becoming an NHL player and I think its something that most of the guys, all the prospects do when they are getting closer to make that jump. For me, I am just really excited and am just going to keep working as hard as I can to make the Bruins.

Hamilton has exploded offensively and defensively this season in Niagara, and will compete for a spot at the NHL level next season after showing such impressive growth at the junior level. Chiarelli didnt shy away from comparisons to young Flyers defenseman Braydon Coburn, but it seems that perhaps Bostons 2011 first round pick could eventually aspire to an even higher ground as a player.

Based on what I saw, and based on how I think hell develop, I think he will compete for a roster spot, said Chiarelli, who said that Hamilton could play a handful of games for the Providence Bruins at the end of this season if his junior hockey career is over. The size, skating, range, is all there . . . He finishes with authority. Hes not a crasher and a banger. His gap is always so good; his checking is almost like, just separating. He doesnt need that big gap to hit a guy. Hes always there, so he just separates.

The big question with Hamiltons signing and potential debut in Boston next season is how that affects the rest of the defensemen crew next season.

Zdeno Chara, Andrew Ference, Dennis Seidenberg and Adam McQuaid are all signed for next season, and will be back. But Johnny Boychuk and Joe Corvo are both unrestricted free agents after this season, and its certain that Boychuk wants to re-sign with Boston if given a fair offer. Corvo would likely want to wait out the season before taking a deal. Good thing, because it seems that Chiarelli is going to play out free agency and the new Collective Bargaining Agreement this summer before making final decisions.

It stands to reason that the teenaged Hamilton could be looked at as a potentially cheaper alternative to either of those two defensemen if the salary cap drops dramatically, but Chiarelli said those kinds of decisions were a long way off. Things could potentially change in his mind if Boychuk keeps improving as a top-four NHL defenseman, but that also means the rugged Boychuks price tag could rise dramatically around the league.

I dont really put them together yet. Well see how Dougie Hamilton plays the rest of the year and well see how our guys play the rest of the year, said Chiarelli. There are a lot of factors involved, but I think Hamilton will challenge for a spot next year.

With Chara on the shelf for the next handful of games with a lower body injury (believed to be a left knee issue), the Bruins captain seems mortal for one of the first times in his career. Big 'Z' isnt getting any younger, and Hamilton seems like a natural future partner for Chara when Hamilton eventually begins to learn his way around the NHL.

What better place for a future No. 1 Bs defenseman to learn his craft?

Cracking the Bs lineup is what I am working towards right now. I think Ive improved a lot since I got drafted and over the course of the year. Obviously the team is really good and they are doing really well right now, Hamilton said. For me, thats a goal of mine. Im working as hard as I can and I think next summer is going to be an important one for me as far as my development and for my future.

Its still a long way off in the grand scheme of things, but it seems the Dougie Hamilton Era in Boston is a closer than anybody might have thought.

Rask out tonight vs. Canadiens, Bruins call up McIntyre from Providence


Rask out tonight vs. Canadiens, Bruins call up McIntyre from Providence

BRIGHTON, Mass. – It would appear to be something a little more serious than “general soreness” with Tuukka Rask.

The Bruins No. 1 goaltender was missing from the ice at Warrior Ice Arena for Saturday’s morning skate and Claude Julien said he won't play tonight vs. the Montreal Canadiens.

Instead, the B’s have recalled Zane McIntyre from Providence on an emergency basis and to serve as Anton Khudobin’s backup. Rask has clearly been battling a lower body injury since the opening night win over the Columbus Blue Jackets last week and it cropped up again in the Thursday night win over the New Jersey Devils.

The same injury also forced the B’s to play Khudobin instead of Rask in their only loss of the season, a 4-1 defeat to the Maple Leafs in Toronto one week ago.

Rask admitted he was playing through a little “something-something” after the Jersey win and Julien would only say that his goalie has “general soreness” and is considered day-to-day after missing team practice on Friday.  Julien reiterated the day-to-day status Saturday.

“He’s doing better, but we’re going to shut him off for a bit,” said Julien, who said he wasn’t concerned about the long-term health of his franchise goaltender. “We’ll give him another day’s rest at least, but we’ll still go day-by-day.”

 It’s a severe case of bad timing for both Rask and the B’s as the Finnish netminder is off to a roaring start this season (3-0-0 with a .947 save percentage and a 1.67 goals-against average) after his worst season last year for the Black and Gold.

The 24-year-old McIntyre has appeared in three games for Providence, going 1-0-0 and leading the AHL in goals-against average (0.44) and save percentage (.977) in a solid start after a rough rookie pro season last year.

Boston’s sixth round pick in the 2010, McIntyre, played his first professional season with Providence in 2015-16, going14-8-7 with a 2.68 GAA and .898 save percentage in 31 games.

Malcolm Subban might have been the call-up under different circumstances, but has been pulled by the P-Bruins twice in the span of a week including a Friday night loss where he allowed three goals in the first period in an eventual 4-1 loss. 

Haggerty: So what exactly has happened to the Bruins-Habs rivalry?


Haggerty: So what exactly has happened to the Bruins-Habs rivalry?

BRIGHTON, Mass. -- It didn’t take last season’s embarrassing Winter Classic result to figure out something has been missing from the storied, legendary Bruins-Canadiens rivalry over the last few years.

The last traces of the latest, great incarnation of the B’s-Habs rivalry were clearly still there a couple of seasons ago when the two hockey clubs met in the second round of the playoffs. After falling short the last few times the teams met in the postseason, Boston was summarily dismissed by Montreal in Game 7 on their own home ice during that series. The following season the B’s simply had so many of their own players struggling to put out a consistent effort, so the games against the Habs didn’t really register highly on the importance scale, and last season both Boston and Montreal suffered through subpar seasons that saw them each fall short of the playoffs.

Since the second round loss to the Habs in the 2013-14 playoffs, the Bruins are 2-7 while being outscored by a 31-18 margin in nine regular season meetings over the last two seasons in an incredibly one-sided chapter in the two teams’ shared history. The real lack of competitiveness has been a noticeable lack of deep emotion or ill will on the ice between the two hockey clubs, and that is very different from the recent past when signature players like Milan Lucic, P.K. Subban and Shawn Thornton were card-carrying members of healthy hate that regularly spilled out on the ice between the two rival NHL organizations.

Instead it will probably be new blood that breathes glorious, hard-edged life into the history between the two Original Six teams, and new personalities like David Backes, Shea Weber and Andrew Shaw are likely to do just that. Certainly the Canadiens wanted to be much more difficult to play against in recruiting players like Shaw and Weber, and, their presence along with the offensively explosive Alex Radulov, could make it a tough matchup for the Black and Gold.

Either way, the Bruins are curious to see what the matchup looks like this season with the electric P.K. Subban removed from the mix as one of the classic Habs villain-type characters from a Boston perspective.

“It’s always fun to play Montreal at home, or in Montreal. This will be our second time counting the preseason, and our first time at the Garden. It’s going to be pretty cool,” said David Krejci. “When you say any NHL team there are a few names that pop out for that team, and [P.K. Subban] was definitely one of them [for Montreal]. But P.K. is gone, and now it’s Shea Weber. So it’s going to be a little different, but he’s a hell of a player as well so it isn’t going to be any easier.

“It’s a big game. It’s a division game. We don’t want to take any game lightly within the 82 games because you don’t know what can happen at the end. When those games against [Montreal] are done you always feel like you’ve played two games, and not just one. It’s high intensity, and it’s obviously a rivalry that you get up for.”

As Bruins head coach Claude Julien would say it, things are a bit too civilized between the two enemy teams when thinking back to the days of Georges Laraque chasing Milan Lucic around the ice challenging him a fight on the Bell Centre ice, or the awful epoch in B’s-Habs history when Zdeno Chara clobbered Max Pacioretty with a dangerous, injury-inducing hit into the stanchion area.

Nobody is looking for players to get hurt on borderline plays when the two teams suit up on Saturday night, but something to introduce a new chapter into the Boston-Montreal rivalry would be a good thing for both teams, a good thing for the fans and a potentially great thing for an NHL that prides itself on good, old-fashioned rivalries.

“We need to make sure that we’re ready to play [on Saturday]. I like the way that we’ve played so far, and except for Toronto we’ve managed to compete with all of the teams that we’ve played against,” said Julien. “I don’t know if it’s going to stay that way, but I’m going to use the word that [the rivalry] has been more civilized for the last few years. There hasn’t been as much of the sideshow as there has been [in the past].

“I think there’s still a lot of hatred between the two organizations when they meet, but I think the way the game is trending, and how costly that penalties can be in a game, both teams are a little cautious in that way. I still think there is great intensity and both teams get up for the games, so hopefully that happens tomorrow, and the fans get to see a good game.”

One thing that should ensure a good, familiar showdown with plenty of hard-hitting and honest-to-goodness rivalry-like behavior: both the Canadiens and Bruins are off to strong starts at the top of the Atlantic Division in the first couple of weeks this season, and there are some new faces that are undoubtedly going to want to announce their presence for these Bruins-Habs tilts with authority.

Let’s hope this happens because last season’s Bruins-Habs games needed a pair of jumper cables and 1.21 jigowatts of electricity to shock them back into their elevated level of intensity, and that’s when hockey is served best after all.