Hamilton keeps turning heads with 'Dougie moments'


Hamilton keeps turning heads with 'Dougie moments'

Four games into the Bruins season nearly all precincts are reporting in on the Phil Kessel trade to Toronto four years ago, and its the gift that keeps on giving for the Black and Gold. Its also likely one of the biggest reasons why Brian Burke is no longer in charge of the Toronto Maple Leafs after they traded the draft picks used by the Bruins to select both Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton.

Perhaps the chants should change from Thank You, Kessel to Thank You, Burkie because it certainly looks like the Bruins now have their franchise players that will keep a Cup-worthy nucleus playoff-built for the next 10 years.

Its been a slow start for the 20-year-old Seguin as hes got only a single assist in his first four games and his power play unit hasnt yet found traction on the young season. But the 19-year-old Hamilton has taken the city of Boston by storm, and found himself in the middle of his first Dougie! Dougie! Dougie! chant on the TD Garden ice in the third period of Friday nights 4-2 win over the New York Islanders.

To say Hamilton was appreciative of the welcoming crowd would be an understatement.

I was going back to get the puck and I thought thats what I heard. I was just trying to not fumble the puck when going back there for it after hearing the chants. It would have been better if I had scored on that play instead of hitting him in the head, said Hamilton, who finished with 16:13 of ice time on 28 shifts. Its obviously nice to have that support from the fans. It is pretty cool.

Just dont ask Hamilton if hes surprised to look up and see that hes got three points in his first four games, and hasnt needed any adjustment period to get things done at the NHL level.

I think you guys in the media are more surprised than I am. I think for me, I didnt have expectations, said Hamilton. I just wanted to come in and do my best. I have gotten a lot of opportunities, and Im playing with a lot of great players. It makes it a lot easier on me.

The offensive defenseman had just authored his second assist of the night on a long outlet pass that turned Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron into fast-breaking forwards, and manufactured a breakaway goal for Bergeron. It was Hamiltons second assist of the evening and the first of should be many multi-point games in his NHL career.

His first helper arrived on the teams first goal of the night when he fired a puck from the point that created a big rebound aided by a Daniel Paille tip, and Shawn Thornton shoveled the backhand rebound in for the score.

It's pretty good stuff for a teen-ager that still playing for the Niagara IceDogs a couple of months ago.

Its amazing that hes 19 years old. Its just a number for him on the ice, said Bergeron, who remembers what that was like after being the youngest player in the NHL during his rookie season. You cant tell at all, and his poise is unbelievable, Its great to have him on our side.

Surging from the energy created by the chanting crowd and the TD Garden game operations people going with the obvious Teach Me How to Dougie on the jumbotron, Hamilton fired a puck at the net that seemed destined for his first NHL goal.

But instead the puck clanged off Rick DiPietros helmet for a Grade A bell-ringer, and the youngster was lamenting what might have been afterward.

I think thats why our front office guys drafted him, because they saw a lot of things were seeing right now. We liked his size, we liked the way he moved on the ice, but at the same time, we thought he had real good hockey sense, said Claude Julien. He sees the ice well, he finds the passing lanes and you saw on that goal, breakout out of our own end.

You see the guy scoring, but it all starts from our end, and that was from his pass to Brad Marchand and to Bergy Patrice Bergeron for the breakaway. Those kinds of things are what our scouts saw in him and those kinds of things hes demonstrating right now. You have to be pleased and impressed with a young player playing the way he has been.

Not only is Hamilton not going back to junior hockey with the Bs fifth game of the season coming up Monday in Carolina, but the young defenseman is quickly becoming a game-changing Calder Trophy candidate for the Black and Gold. Its early in the process but Hamilton is tied for third overall among NHL rookies with his three points, and is tied with impressive Edmonton Oilers defenseman Justin Schultz for tops among NHL rookie blueliners.

He gives the Bruins the kind of puck-moving, point-producing defenseman they havent had since a guy that wore No. 77 roamed the ice for the Black and Gold. His teammates have marveled at his offensive skills and his ability to get low, heavy shots from the point through traffic to the net creating rebound chances. Two of his first three career assists have come from that exact scenario after Hamilton shots from the point.

You always like to see the young guys come in with that spark as theyre realizing their lifelong dream to play in the NHL. It wasnt too long ago that I was a 19-year-old first coming into the league and having some fun, said Lucic. But obviously hes at a different level than I was at as a 19-year-old. You look at his ability to make the first pass when its in the defensive zone, neutral zone or in the offensive zone and its great to see.

When we made the trade for Nathan Horton and Campbell we lost a bit of that in Dennis Wideman, and hes definitely brought a lot of that to our defense corps. And thats a defense corps thats already shown they have what it takes to win a Stanley Cup, so hes some extra punch out there for us.

To just think that none of this would be possible if Kessel didnt fold his arms, tramp his feet and demand a trade to Toronto. It's more than a little amusing to everybody except those in the southern Ontario area code.

O'Gara sent to Providence, but could return any time


O'Gara sent to Providence, but could return any time

BOSTON – The writing was on the wall once Rob O’Gara was scratched in the last couple of games, and he was finally sent down to Providence on Tuesday. The move was made to clear room for Adam McQuaid to rejoin the B’s lineup, and help the Bruins continue improving from their 15th rank among team defenses in the NHL this season.

The 23-year-old O’Gara was a plus-1 rating in three games to start the season, and played very well in 16:01 of ice time while winning physical battles, adequately moving the puck and generally showing that he’s got a future in the NHL. With veteran defenders returning and little margin for error on a B’s back end already featuring 19-year-old Brandon Carlo, it was too much to attempt carrying two rookies on an NHL defensemen corps for a long stretch of time.

So now O’Gara will go to Providence where he’ll play bigger minutes, play in all situations and stay ready for the next time Boston needs him.

“He’s good. I think he makes good passes when he has time. I think we want him to work on maybe being under pressure, and being a little stronger on his feet and being able to make better plays,” said Claude Julien. “But he’s really close. When I say he’s real close I think you could see him back here at any time. I have no issues with Rob O’Gara.

“I think as a young player he has to play, so when we can play [him again] I have no issues with him in our lineup. If he doesn’t get [the playing time] here then we’ve got to get it for him somewhere else.”

While O’Gara is going to Providence for some more AHL development at this point in time, there’s a tacit acknowledgement from the Bruins that the big, hard-working defenseman is definitely going to be a valued part of their future.

Still looking for first point, Heinen stays patient


Still looking for first point, Heinen stays patient

BRIGHTON, Mass. -- It may be strictly due to injuries or because Ryan Spooner is being moved back to third line center full-time, but Danton Heinen is going to get another top-six look on the wing. The 21-year-old Bruins prospect will be skating on the left wing with David Krejci and Matt Beleskey in Tuesday night’s game against the Minnesota Wild after serving as a healthy scratch last weekend against the Montreal Canadiens.

Heinen has only two shots on goal in the four games leading up to the scratch, and has been quiet offensively after leading the Bruins in goal-scoring during the preseason. Clearly there’s an adjustment to be made there, and it looked like the playmaking rookie winger was starting to develop a little more confidence trying to make plays while skating with Krejci and David Backes in last week’s win over the New Jersey Devils.

Heinen actually looked reminiscent of Krejci on a couple of plays, pulling back the puck after entering the zone and catching a trailing B’s teammate with a perfectly executed lead pass on the offensive rush. That effort plus a trip to the ninth floor press box last weekend seemed to reinforce just how much time he has to make plays, and that should be a benefit for both Heinen and his linemates.

Sometimes getting that first NHL point is the hardest part when a player breaks into the league, and it’s been that way for the young winger through his first four games.

“[Krejci] is such a good player, and I just try to complement him any way I can,” said Heinen. “You never want to be up in the press box, but it gives you a different perspective on the game. It’s a different angle. From up there it looks like you’ve got way more time. I definitely think I can be more patient with the puck, and make some smarter plays.”

Heinen started to do that in his best NHL game to date prior to being scratched against New Jersey, and it resulted in greater offensive possession and a couple of potential scoring plays getting created for the B’s second line. Unfortunately it didn’t lead to actual goals, and Heinen knows that’s what needs to happen through him if a player like him, with an offense-minded reputation from his University of Denver days, is going to stick top-6 in Boston.

“You can’t rely on the [top] guys every night,” said Heinen, who watched the Habs beat the Bruins on Saturday night while essentially shutting down Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak. “When we’ve been out there we’ve kind of been getting some chances, but we’ve got to bear down.

“[Krejci] likes to play with the puck a lot, so you just get him the puck, go in hard on the forecheck and try to get open because he’s a good distributor.”

It sounds like a simple plan that might be a very good thing for young Heinen, who needs to start breaking through offensively if he wants to stick around in Boston for the long haul.