Julien: 'Great chance' Hamilton will make Bruins

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Julien: 'Great chance' Hamilton will make Bruins

ANDOVER, Mass. Claude Julien has made good use of his time while having no hockey club to coach with the NHL in lockout mode.

The Bruins coach and former Jack Adams Award winner has been a regular attendee of both practices and games for the Providence Bruins since camp started at the end of September. He also found time to pay a surprise visit to a girls hockey team at Phillips Andover Academy on Thursday evening, and give the young players a few tips while chatting them up from the bench.

Getting an opportunity to talk to youth hockey players is always great. Today, it was talking to young girls and it kind of reflects on me because I have a daughter thats going to start playing hockey, said Julien. Im really looking forward to that. Just like I told the girls today, its all about having fun at the end of the day.

Julien also just returned from a scouting trip in Canada to watch top prospects Dougie Hamilton and Malcolm Subban play in the OHL. Julien got a chance to see Hamilton up close and personal during last years training camp, but it was his first chance to see the 2012 first-round pick in action between the pipes.

The Bs coach was impressed with Subban, and came away believing that Hamilton has a great chance to play in the NHL this season once the lockout is lifted. The 2011 first-round pick has seven points (three goals, four assists) in eight games to start the year with the Niagara IceDogs, and has a plus-8 rating while working as the most dominant defenseman in the entire OHL.

While its always difficult to gauge how NHL-ready a player could possibly be while watching them as a man-among-boys in a junior league, its also difficult to see Hamilton anywhere but Boston once the regular season gets started.

Ive been quite busy. Ive taken advantage of the situation spending most of last week in Providences camp. I also just got back from the road watching our prospects in Canada in the last few days, said Julien. Dougie was very good. Both of them were good, actually. They did a great job of staying focused.

Dougie is such a big player and hes gotten so much stronger. He was just outstanding. It was impressive to see him. Id say he has a great chance to stick in the NHL. Youve got to give the player a chance to show that he can, and sometimes you dont know until he goes up against stronger players. But what I saw told me that he deserves the opportunity. Id lean more toward him having a great chance to crack the Bruins lineup than not.

Hamilton is already expected to report to Boston from Niagara as soon as the NHL lockout is lifted, and Juliens assessment of his skills simply reinforces that its Dougies roster spot to lose on the defensemen corps.

Heinen looking to show his offense in his shot on Krejci line

Heinen looking to show his offense in his shot on Krejci line

BRIGHTON, Mass – The Bruins mixed things up with their roster a bit on Saturday after dropping a couple of games in a row to Washington and Colorado. 

Fourth-line energy winger Noel Acciari and playmaking forward Danton Heinen were called up from Providence and will be in the lineup against the Toronto Maple Leafs at TD Garden on Saturday night. 
Acciari went to Providence the past couple of days to get some game action in after missing the past month with a lower body injury, but clearly showed he’s ready to go. 

So, Acciari is back to provide the same hard-hitting and energy he showed before he was hurt and Heinen is looking to show off a little more offense than in his first stint with the Black and Gold this season. He’ll be featured in a top role as left wing with David Krejci and David Backes and with marching orders to shoot the puck like he never shot it in his previous stint in Boston. 

For the Bruins, it’s about getting another look at a candidate to play left wing beside Krejci with both Ryan Spooner and Tim Schaller, with limitations to their respective games, unable to fully grasp that same opportunity. 

“My hope is that Heinen can come in and give us some good hockey. He’s a skill player and he’s been down there for a while, and he’s back up again because he’s been playing well,” said Claude Julien of the Bruins rookie, who had four goals and seven points in his past five games with Providence. “Hopefully he can play well here also. It’s about getting some confidence. When he went down to [the AHL] the pace of his game had to get a little bit better, and in the battles coming up with the puck along the walls. Those are the kinds of things we thought he could work on down in Providence.”

Heinen knows he needs to shoot the puck a bit more to show off his offense after a seven-game stint with the Bruins where he went scoreless, was a minus-2 and had just six shots on net.

“Being hard on the walls, playing fast and shooting the puck, those were all things I was working on [in Providence],” said Heinen, who has seven goals and 13 points in 13 games for the P-Bruins after being assigned to Providence. “I was doing what they told me to do [in Providence] and that’s shoot the puck. They were going in, and I was getting some good opportunities on the power play. It’s seriously tough to get chances [at the NHL level], so you can’t pass them up when you have chances. That was kind of my focus down there.”

Fellow fourth-line energy winger Anton Blidh has been shipped to Providence after three solid games with the Black and Gold. 

Julien said Blidh goes back to Providence having adequately shown that he can play in the NHL. He clearly showed the Bruins that he understands his role as a player that stirs things up a bit and gets his nose dirty on a regular basis.

“[Blidh] was fine. No issues there. He does his job. He plays with lots of energy and obviously he’s getting more experience. He’s a lot better at understanding his positioning within the game and what he has to do,” said Julien. “I thought he helped us out for the time that he was here.”

With Heinen and Acciari both in the lineup and Blidh back in Providence, that means Jimmy Hayes will be scratched after dressing for three of the past four games for Boston.

Saturday, Dec. 10: Vegas, scoring on NHL governors' minds

Saturday, Dec. 10: Vegas, scoring on NHL governors' minds

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while doing some early Christmas shopping ahead of the late rush. 

*Mike Zeisberger sits down with a quartet of NHL governors and discusses a number of hot topics including the Vegas franchise and scoring around the league. 

*Carolina Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos has been removed from the NHL Board of Governor’s Executive Committee amid rumors that the Canes might be a prime candidate for relocation. 

*Pierre McGuire weighs in on Connor McDavid’s war of words on the ice and Carey Price losing his mind in the crease against the New Jersey Devils. To that end, Wayne Gretzky liked seeing McDavid get a little combative at such a young age. 

*The New York Islanders signed Cal Clutterbuck to a five year contract extension, and some are skeptical it will turn out well for the Isles.

*David Pastrnak is a premier scoring threat in the league, and Scott Cullen has some details behind that. I will say this: his stock falling in the draft had less to do with his size or heaviness, and more to do with him being concussed for a long stretch of time during the year leading up to the draft. 

*The Florida Panthers are really struggling to stay positive with a 1-5-0 record since the ownership group and management decided to fire Gerard Gallant. 

*For something completely different: Baywatch stars then and now.