Hamilton sticking around with Bruins; stars in victory

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Hamilton sticking around with Bruins; stars in victory

RALEIGH, NC Apparently it isnt a Bruins game these days without a big play from 19-year-old rookie Dougie Hamilton.

Once again it wasnt a perfect performance as his natural offensive instincts took him way away from his normal position in a key sequence at the end of the second period. Hamilton hung Chris Kelly out to dry on the Eric Staal goal that tied things at 3-3 when the Bruins center was forced to break the puck out of the defensive zone on his own.

But Hamilton made up for it by making a heady, slick cross-ice pass in the final two minutes of regulation that set up a David Krejci one-timer, and powered the Bruins to an entertaining 5-3 victory at PNC Arena.

Hamilton faked with a big shot from the right circle once he corralled wildly bouncing puck, and was on the money with a tape-to-tape pass.

I think were going to see a lot of this stuff. The thing that really impressed me about him when I watched him in junior this year was his vision, said Julien of the trip the Bs coach and GM Peter Chiarelli took to watch the young defenseman at Niagara during the lockout. He sees the ice so well and finds the open seams. You talk about the game-winning goal, but there was a few times he found an open guy right up the seam and got us going on our way in transition.

Thats what weve been talking about for a long time. We wanted some guys that can move the puck. Were big and now we find some defenseman that can move the puck extremely well. He certainly fits that mold.

Hamilton now has assists in three straight games for the Bruins, and has posted four assists in five games while keeping close pace with fellow rookie blueliner Justin Schultz (2 goals, 3 assists in four games) of the Edmonton Oilers. Bostons rookie blueliner finished with four shots on net and a pair of hits in 19:19 of ice time. That all of this happened on the day when the Bruins made it official Hamilton wont be going back to junior hockey was all the sweeter for the first year player.

The Bruins had until Hamilton suits up for his sixth game to make a decision on whether or not to return him to the OHLs Niagara IceDogs, but the understanding was that he was going to stick with the NHL club unless he fell flat on his face. It became the biggest no-brainer in the history of earth to keep the teenaged skater after watching him excel in some pretty big spots.

Hamilton has done the exact opposite of struggling while becoming one of the most impactful rookies in the league over the seasons first two weeks.

He has a lot of poise and he plays a very mature game, said Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli. Im sure inside he felt relieved, but based on how Ive seen him play, it wouldnt surprise me if his play doesnt go one way or the other now that he knows hes staying because hes a real poised and mature player.

Chiarelli said he told him a week ago that things were looking good for him to stick with the Bruins in these terms: Look, things are going well, so dont screw it up.

Hamilton has proceeded to not screw up in the best way possible and even more impressively didnt relax or ease up after learning of his favorable NHL fate. Now he'll move in and live with defenseman Adam McQuaid for the rest of this season as he continues to assimilate into the NHL lifestyle as a wide-eyed youngster.

Its just overall excitement, said Hamilton. Its been my dream ever since I was a little kid to play in the NHL. So I think for me its a dream come true. I just want to keep on getting better and having fun.

The dream is just getting started for Hamilton and the Bruins, and its clear neither player nor team will be waking up anytime soon.

Rask: Last season 'something to rebound from' personally

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Rask: Last season 'something to rebound from' personally

BRIGHTON, Mass. – While David Pastrnak, Tuukka Rask and David Backes are back from competing in the World Cup of Hockey in Toronto, that doesn’t mean you’ll see those players on the ice over the next couple of days. Perhaps the trio will practice on Monday in the fourth on-ice session at main training camp, but Bruins GM Don Sweeney confirmed that none of those returning players will suit up against the Columbus Blue Jackets in the B’s preseason debut at TD Garden on Monday night.

“Yeah…absolutely,” said Sweeney when asked if those three players have been ruled out for Monday night. “They’re going to get through the weekend here. Next week, we’ll evaluate [them] when they get on the ice. But, all those guys will not be on the ice until next week.

“It might be case-by-case for each guy. Those guys have been playing for a while at a high level. It’s unique for David Backes coming into the organization, so he’d like to integrate himself. I talked yesterday with all three of them just to get a read of where they’re at. But, sometime first of next week, they’ll be on [the ice].”

Both Pastrnak and Rask have checked in with the Bruins media over the last couple of days after returning from Toronto, and the Bruins goaltender, in particular, has plenty of motivation coming off a down statistical season. The 2.56 goals against average and .915 save percentage were well below his career numbers, and people like B’s President Cam Neely have pointed to Rask as somebody that needs to have a better season for Boston to rebound back into the playoffs this year.

“There were a couple of years where the standards pretty high, so obviously when they go down there’s something to rebound from. You kind of know where you can be. That’s where I try to be every year and I’m working on being there this year, and taking us to the playoffs and moving forward,” said Rask. “But every year is a new year where you’ve got to work hard, and set your goals to be at your best. More often than not you hope [being at your best] is going to happen, and I hope this year is going to be a great year for us.”

Clearly Rask wasn’t alone in his struggles last season behind a mistake-prone defense that allowed plenty of Grade chances, and that could be a repeating phenomenon again this season for the Bruins unless the defense is substantially upgraded along the way.

As far as the other three B’s players still taking part in the World Cup, it could be a while for Patrice and Brad Marchand as Team Canada has advanced to the final best-of-three series that could also feature Zdeno Chara if Team Europe is victorious. 

Sweeney: 'Helpless feeling' hoping World Cup players return healthy

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Sweeney: 'Helpless feeling' hoping World Cup players return healthy

BRIGHTON, Mass. – It’s a bit of a helpless feeling for an NHL general manager watching their star players participate in an intense hockey tournament like the World Cup of Hockey that doesn’t directly benefit their respective teams.

Not helpless because of the tournament’s outcome, obviously, but helpless because players could return from Toronto dinged up, or even worse significantly injured.

Aaron Ekblad had to shut it down for Team North American with what many speculated was a concussion, and Pittsburgh goalie Matt Murray is out a month, or more, with a broken hand sustained playing for the same young guns team.

So, it certainly must have been an uneasy few moments for Don Sweeney when Brad Marchand was pulled from Team Canada’s last game for the concussion protocol after a nasty-looking collision with Team Europe forward Marian Hossa.

Marchand went through the testing, and ended up returning to the game no worse for the wear. But it could have been a lot worse for a Bruins team that can’t afford to be missing Marchand, Patrice Bergeron or Zdeno Chara, who are still playing for teams alive in the semifinal round of the tourney.

“I would expect all of us to have been in a similar situation. For everybody - any general manager, coaches, staff, you're concerned about [injuries],” said Sweeney, talking about the World Cup and Marchand’s close call. “I mean, especially when you realize the stakes are going to go up as the tournament goes along. The pride involved - it's a risk. There's no question, it's a risk.

“But you also want to see them play their best hockey and they're not going to hold back. Yeah, it's a definite concern. You've got your fingers and toes crossed.”

David Pastrnak and Tuukka Rask have already returned to Boston fully healthy. David Backes should be joining the team anytime now after Team USA’s rude dismissal from the tournament. But Sweeney and the Bruins still have their sensors out for the three B’s players taking part that aren’t quite out of the woods yet before returning to B’s camp in one piece.