Hamilton keeps turning heads with 'Dougie moments'

988539.jpg

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.

Off day for Tuukka Rask plays into rough loss for the Bruins

Off day for Tuukka Rask plays into rough loss for the Bruins

BOSTON – Many times this season Tuukka Rask has bailed out the Bruins when the team was at less than their best.

Monday afternoon was not one of those times as the Bruins goaltender was knocked out of the game after two periods on the way to a listless 4-0 shutout loss to the New York Islanders. Rask allowed three goals on 15 shots in the game’s opening 40 minutes, and was responsible for a very soft goal during the Isles’ three-score barrage in the second period.

After the game Rask wasn’t ducking responsibility for the subpar performance, and admitted he was simply beaten to the short side post on a bad angle shot from Islanders forward Josh Bailey for the soft-serve special.

“I was just late. I picked the wrong seal. It’s one of those [goals] that I should have stopped,” said Rask. “Claude [Julien] mentioned [not taking the Isles lightly] before the game, and the last game we played here they got us. It was a bit of a flat game again last time, and we just woke up too late today. We didn’t want to underestimate them. Any team in this league is good even though the standings might show otherwise. We just never got it going.”

Rask was being kind because the Bruins never actually woke up at all in the first B's shutout loss to the Islanders on home ice in franchise history, and that includes when the Finnish netminder was yanked after the second intermission.

Julien’s act of pulling Rask from a 3-0 game was clearly designed to spark the struggling hockey club, but it did nothing to breathe life into a dead hockey club that simply allowed another goal playing out the string in the third period.

“There are two things that can happen. No. 1, you hope you can spark your team because of the performance in front of him,” said Julien. “If it doesn’t spark your team, [at least] you’re not wasting your number one goaltender’s energy.”

One would expect that Rask will be back between the pipes on Wednesday night against the Red Wings in Detroit, and in hindsight perhaps this Monday matinee might have been a good time to see what Zane McIntyre has to offer as the backup. Instead it will go down as an “off” game for Rask and another inexcusable no-show on home ice for the Black and Gold. 

Bruins admit they 'just weren't ready' to play Isles in shutout loss

bruins_claude_julien_011617.jpg

Bruins admit they 'just weren't ready' to play Isles in shutout loss

BOSTON – The Bruins are starting to run out of adjectives and descriptors for these “no-show” performances on home ice.

The Bruins made it twice in two months that they’ve dropped a disappointing dud to one of the Eastern Conference’s worst teams when they came out flat, and never showed any signs of life in a 4-0 loss to the New York Islanders. The lack of effort and pitiful results were particularly disappointing coming off a solid five game stretch where they’d engineered high effort wins over Florida, St. Louis and Philadelphia.

Patrice Bergeron finished a minus-3 on the afternoon, and said in quasi-disgust that he knew five minutes into the game that his team didn’t have “it” on Monday.

“Something that we talked [headed into Monday was] about building from the last few weeks, and how good it felt around the room, I guess, with winning games basically,” said Bergeron. “[The shutout loss] just shows that you have to show up every night and not take things for granted. I think we did [take things for granted] this afternoon.

“It was about finding someone to get us a shift to get us going basically. We had a few good shifts there, and we sustained a little bit of pressure there. But then we just couldn’t keep that for the next lines after going, we couldn’t sustain that or build from that. It was really the whole team throughout the lineup that didn’t show up and, you know, it’s obviously inexcusable, unacceptable.”

Claude Julien mentioned the compacted schedule and potential fatigue playing into the Bruins looking “flat” on Monday against the Islanders, and perhaps that is partially to blame for an uncharacteristically lifeless performance from the Black and Gold. But the B’s essentially did nothing for 60 minutes after not having played for 48 hours dating back to a Saturday afternoon matinee win over the Flyers, so the fatigue excuse is difficult to swallow.

Instead it looked like a Bruins team that thought they were going to roll out the pucks and beat the worst team in the Metro Division that had lost four-of-five games. Instead a defensive zone breakdown led to a Nikolay Kulemin goal midway through the second period, and the Bruins collapsed after that. Josh Bailey tucked a short side goal past a late-reacting Tuukka Rask for a soft serve special allowed by Boston’s ace goaltender, and Kulemin scored again in the second period once the Bruins began cheating at the offensive end of the ice.

To make matters worse, the Bruins showed zero fight or willingness to scratch and claw their way back into the game in the third period. Instead it looked like they quit on two points that could end up being extremely important at the end of the season.

It also looked like the Bruins weren’t ready to play, and that they overlooked the downtrodden Islanders for the second time in as many months.

“Maybe we took them a little lightly, but we just weren’t ready [to play],” said Brad Marchand. “We have to look ourselves in the mirror and all be a little bit better. We all have to be prepared for every game. You can’t look at the guy besides us and think he’s going to do the job. We have to take a little onus on ourselves and all be a little bit better. As a team, again, we have to play the system together and we have to back each other up. We have to play as one unit and we didn’t do that.”

It’s long past the point where the words even matter that the Bruins are uttering after games like Monday afternoon. Instead it’s about results and nothing else, and the B’s were nothing short of putrid in that category against the Islanders with points at a premium this time of year.