Couture gets the better of Hamill


Couture gets the better of Hamill

By Danny Picard

BOSTON -- It's never been reported that the San Jose Sharks delivered the Boston Bruins a thank-you letter, following the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, but there's no doubt that they have to be extremely grateful for the fact that the B's left Logan Couture on the table, by selecting Zach Hamill with the No. 8 overall pick in that year's draft, allowing the Sharks to take Couture with the very next pick.

Couture scored his 23rd goal of the season on Saturday afternoon at the TD Garden. His first-period power-play backhander from the slot that beat Tim Thomas made the difference in San Jose's 2-0 win.

Meanwhile, the Bruins had dressed Hamill for the first time this season, on Saturday, marking just his second-career NHL game, after being called up for a game against the Washington Capitals last April.

Hamill saw 10:35 of ice time in 13 shifts, all on even strength. He centered a line with Blake Wheeler and Michael Ryder, and they combined for only two shots on net, with Hamill not taking either one.

His call-up comes during a tough stretch of games for the Bruins, as their next three games after Saturday's against San Jose come against Montreal and two in a row against Detroit.

But his call-up is certainly well-deserved, according to general manager Peter Chiarelli, who said on Friday that as of right now, Hamill is just "getting a look," but that there was a chance it could turn into something more than that.

In 44 games for the Providence Bruins this year, Hamill had three goal and 25 assists. Clearly, he's more of a playmaker than a goal scorer. But so far, since getting drafted, he's shown to be nothing more than a minor-league playmaker.

It would be highly unfair to evaluate his professional career based on just two games in two seasons, but on an afternoon in which the player that was drafted behind him -- Couture -- scored the game-winning goal while playing at the same professional level as the player drafted ahead of him -- Hamill -- it's fair to say that as of right now, the Sharks have benefited more from their first-round pick, than the Bruins have.

"I think Couture is the most complete player that I've seen at that age," said Sharks captain Joe Thornton after his team's win at the Garden on Saturday. "He penalty kills, he plays power play, he plays all the important minutes. He's been a stud for us all year long. he is very complete, by far, the Calder Trophy winner so far this year."

The Calder Trophy goes to the rookie of the year. Couture played 25 games with San Jose at the end of last season. But technically, as long as you don't play more than 25 games in your first season, you're still a rookie during the next season.

Couture leads all NHL rookies with 23 goals, and is second of all rookies in points with 34, six behind Carolina's Jeff Skinner.

Meanwhile, Hamill -- who was picked ahead of Couture in 2007 -- is just getting his feet wet in the show. It wasn't an awful performance, by any means. But at the same time, it was awfully tough to pick out a Bruins player who showed up, offensively, on Saturday.

"It was his first game this season, and it wasn't an easy game," said Julien. "I don't think he got a ton of ice time, but when it's a player's first game, you give him the benefit of the doubt. I don't think he was any worse or any better than anybody, but I thought he was OK. I thought his battle level was, for Zach, was good. I thought his positioning, his smarts, you could tell, were there. So we'll probably see more as we move on here."

Hamill said after his season-debut that he didn't know what the team's future plan was for him. All he was focused on was taking part in his postgame workout. But make no mistake about it, the kid wants to stay, just like anyone else who's ever gotten a taste of the NHL.

"I was a little nervous to start, but as the game went on, I felt more comfortable and was making plays a little bit, and overall I felt pretty good," said Hamill.

"You grow up, and you say you want to play in the NHL, but once you kind of get up here, you want to stay. And not just stay, but staying in terms of contributing, and you go forward from there."

Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard. You can listen to Danny on his streaming radio show I'm Just Sayin' Monday-Friday from 9-10 a.m. on

Tuesday, Oct. 25: Carlo for Calder?


Tuesday, Oct. 25: Carlo for Calder?

Here are the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while having watched the Curious George Halloween special about eight times over the last three or four days thanks to my three-year-old son.

*Bob McKenzie with a great story in former NHL defenseman Mike Commodore talking a shift as an Uber driver as his hockey work has dried up.

*Alex Radulov is earning some early respect for his play from his Habs teammates and the fickle Canadiens fans, but let’s see how the whole season plays out for the notoriously combustible Russian winger.

*Zach Werenski has taken an early lead among his NHL rookie peers for the Calder Trophy, but it looks like it’s going to be a crowded field this year. Just a couple of weeks in, Brandon Carlo certainly looks like he could be in the conversation as well.

*Pioneering female goaltender Shannon Szabados has been cut from the Peoria team in the Southern Pro League.

*The Chicago Blackhawks have plenty of advice for the Chicago Cubs about playing in the big games as the Cubbies get ready for their World Series close-up.

*A more mature David Perron is having greater success the second time around with the St. Louis Blues while contributing in many different areas.

*For something completely different: a really fun story of a Hollywood Reporter contributor recording the reactions of her 7-year-old son watching Empire Strikes Back for the first time. I was around the same age when Empire came out, so I’m sure my reactions were pretty similar to his at different points in the movie.

Injuries have created a muddled picture with Bruins goaltenders

Injuries have created a muddled picture with Bruins goaltenders

It’s hard to believe that it’s already come to this, but it might just be Malcolm Subban between the pipes for the Bruins on Tuesday night against the Minnesota Wild, and perhaps again on Wednesday at Madison Square Garden.

The 22-year-old Subban has been pulled from two ineffective starts for the P-Bruins in four AHL starts this season (.846 save percentage and a 4.50 goals against average in four games) while coming back from last year’s fractured larynx injury. He's also a player the organization was uncertain enough about that they signed veteran backup Anton Khudobin to a two-year deal on the July 1 open of NHL free agency.

Subban attributed his start to a slow opening few weeks with a new P-Bruins roster of players, but that hasn’t stopped fellow P-Bruins goalie Zane McIntyre from putting up excellent numbers between the pipes in the early going.

But Khudobin went down with an injury mere minutes into Monday morning’s Bruins practice at Warrior Ice Arena, and Tuukka Rask been battling a nagging leg injury since the season opening win against the Blue Jackets.

So Subban was the last goalie standing on Monday as an emergency recall from Providence, and could be in line to play Tuesday night against the Wild if the Bruins medical staff can’t perform some Mr. Miyagi-style healing techniques on Rask or Khudobin.

“Khudobin got injured and couldn’t practice with us, but I haven’t heard anything yet [on an update],” said Julien following practice. “This is hockey. We deal with it on daily basis with the injuries. We wait for the news and then it’s about doing your job as it’s required. If we have to make some adjustments and have to have some different personnel, then we’ll deal with it when we have more of an update. Tuukka is still day-to-day, so nothing is changed there.

“We’re in a situation here where we’ll see what happens, and if [Subban] needs to go in goal then he’ll go in goal. It’s as simple as that. As a coach, there’s one thing that worries me and that’s ‘stop the puck.’ I’m not a goalie coach, so I’m just demanding on making the saves.”

Subban, of course, hasn’t been making the saves down in Providence early in the going there this season, and is entering the stage of his career where he needs to begin showing signs of being a potential No. 1 guy at the NHL level.

Fellow goalies from the 2012 NHL draft class like Andrei Vasilevskiy, Joonas Korpisalo, Matt Murray, Connor Hellebuyck and Frederik Andersen have all begun making their mark in the league, and Subban was selected higher than all of them except for Tampa’s Vasilevskiy. So in the final year of his entry level deal it’s high time for the 22-year-old to begin showing signs he can play in the league, whether it’s in Boston or elsewhere.

He admitted on Monday he might have been putting too much pressure on himself down in Providence while watching the injury issues play out with Tuukka Rask in Boston.

Subban was worried about the big picture of stringing together saves so he was the guy called up if the Bruins needed a goalie, and instead should have been focusing more on the present opponents at the AHL level.

“I put a lot of pressure on myself. I think anybody that knows me well knows that. I don’t like to let in goals no matter what happens, whether it’s breakdowns or not it’s my job [to stop the puck]. If there were no breakdowns then you wouldn’t need a goaltender,” said Subban. “I want to make every save and get a shutout every game. I think the biggest thing is just relaxing and playing, and knowing that it’s okay to let a goal in every once in a while.

“So I think in my position right now I’m supposed to be playing really well down there, and I think that go in my head a little bit. I was trying to get a shutout every game rather than going game-by-game and shot-by-shot. I was overthinking it too much. But collectively as a team we’re a new team and we were trying to get the chemistry together, and once we do that the D-zone will be better and the offensive zone game will come.”

If Subban does indeed get the emergency start on Tuesday night against the Wild, the Bruins just have to hope that it’s a better outing than getting pulled in his NHL debut against the Blues two seasons ago after allowing three goals on three straight shots to start the second period. They also have to hope that Rask or Khudobin get well quick given Boston’s shaky situation on defense in front of the goaltender, and the stretch they’re in of playing six straight opponents that qualified for last spring’s Stanley Cup playoffs.

If not then watch out below because every hockey person knows there’s no quicker way for a hockey club to really begin imploding than if the goaltending starts to become a major problem whether it’s because of injury, inconsistent performance or simply because of being a straight-up sieve.