NEW YORK It took 12 attempts, but the Bruins power play finally struck gold on Wednesday night against the Rangers. It was the first goal of the game for Boston in the second period that finally breathed some life back into the B's, and the only goal scored in five chances on the man advantage in their 4-3 overtime loss.
It was more than that, though. The goal was another example of the growing legend of 19-year-old Dougie Hamilton, who seems to keep getting better with each passing game and showing more of what can do with the puck.
"He's very good. I didn't realize how offensively talented he was," said Brad Marchand, who deflected Hamilton's shot past Henrik Lundqvist. "He came in and he's quarterbacking our power play and making so many of the right plays. The one thing I've noticed is that he's getting so many pucks through traffic and he's finding a lane. That's what he did on that first goal."
There are still hiccups, of course.
In the first period, Hamilton wandered far away from the net as Rangers attackers were foraging deep into the Boston zone, and was nowhere close to where he needed to be as Marian Gaborik slammed a rebound of a Michael Del Zotto shot past Tuukka Rask.
The rookie was out of position and looked shaky for parts of the first period, as to be expected in his rookie season during a big spot on the road. But the 6-foot-5 hockey prospect shaped up his game in the final two periods as the rest of the Bruins pushed back against the Rangers.
Hamilton led the Bruins with four shots on goal and exhibited the kind of poise only special players possess in the NHL during their formative teenage years.
Hamilton fired a puck from the high slot into heavy traffic during the successful power play, and Marchand was able to tip the shot past King Henrik for Bostons first goal. The scoring sequence allowed the Bruins to say theyre now 1-for-14 on the power play this season, and also marked Hamiltons first NHL point as a PP assist.
To the surprise of nobody, Hamilton thought the honor was pretty neat given the circumstances of a fresh-faced rookie playing against some tough NHL customers in their building.
Is it something hell always remember?
"I think so . . . yeah," Hamilton said. "With it being a road game it was cool to be here. Its nice to be able to get that assist, but losing still sucks though."
Everything Hamilton is doing continues to impress Bruins officials. There is nothing that sucks about him.
The young defenseman played with Andrew Ference as a pairing, and it marked the third straight different defensive partner hes had in three games -- first with Dennis Seidenberg, then Chara and now Ference. Hamilton was walking the blue line while dangling the puck like a master tightrope walker on power play point, and on several occasions later in the game turned up the offensive pressure by attacking the net when he thought his team might need it.
Those are the kinds of things nobody has seen a defenseman do in a Spoked B sweater in a long, long time.
Anybody who watched the game tonight had to see that this guy was outstanding, said Claude Julien talking about his rookie. Hes not just good, but outstanding. He was so poised and confident. If anybody thinks that this kid cant play in this league then they need to take a look at this game.
I really, really liked his game. Its not just defensively, either. Its offensive, too. He made a great play on the power play and then on the first few seconds of regulation hes so poised with the puck rather than turning it over. I dont know what more to say about him, but I think his teammates are seeing the Dougie Hamilton that everybody is projecting. Were going to make sure to keep his confidence up.
The pressure now goes to the rest of the Bs power play unit with Hamilton beginning to find his offensive range. The first team struggled to keep the puck in the zone, acted passively when they had the puck in the offensive zone and consistently chose poorly when given the choice between shooting or passing the puck around.
So a change in mindset is still important, and results even more so.
"Poise "was one of the big adjectives used to describe Hamilton with regard to other rookies, and there doesnt seem to be a limit to what he can do. He showed good creativity in a series of one-man rushes into the attack zone later in the game, and said he opened up his game "because his team needed a goal in the third period."
There was also a simple play at the end of regulation where Hamilton flipped the puck high up in the air away from danger as the seconds ticked down at MSG.
Thats exactly the kind of cunning a reed-thin 19-year-old hockey prospect can utilize as a great strength in his first tour around the NHL, and something that doesn't go unnoticed by a B's coaching staff that appreciates smart play whether it's a 19-year-old or a 39-year-old making the smart hockey play.