BOSTON -- After playing in the first 39 games of his rookie NHL season, Dougie Hamilton was a healthy scratch for the first time in the Bruins' 2-1 loss to the New York Islanders Thursday night.
But coach Claude Julien said there was little to read into the move, that it was simply a chance to give the teenager a breather. Hamilton has been been playing straight through since August: He participated in the World Junior Tournament in Russia, then spent the 119 days of the lockout playing in the OHL.
"[It was] just to give him some rest," said Julien. "We had thought about giving him some rest earlier but he’s been playing so well that it’s been hard to take him out of the lineup."
The 19-year-old defenseman had just one point in his last seven games and was coming off only 15:51 of ice time in Wednesday night’s win over the New Jersey Devils. So the Bruins decided it was time to give Hamilton a little breather and get fellow rookie Matt Bartkowski in the lineup to utilize his fresh skating legs and newfound confidence.
“We’re getting near the end of our schedule and I think it’s important for [Hamilton] to get some rest," said Julien. "So it was strictly about that . . . [He's] been a good player, and that’s why we haven’t taken him out of the lineup.
“He’s been that good and we’ve kind of stretched it out as long as we can. I didn’t want to wait until the last game or the last two games. It’s a chance for him to [rest]. Plus it was a great opportunity for him to watch from up top, and he sat with (assistant coach) Doug Jarvis and talked about the game as it went along.”
Hamilton should be primed and ready to jump back into the lineup on Saturday night against the Hurricanes in Carolina unless, of course, there was more than simply rookie rest at play when opting to scratch Hamilton.