Couture gets the better of Hamill

191545.jpg

Couture gets the better of Hamill

By Danny Picard
CSNNE.com

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 CSNNE.com.

Hayes knows he's a good player, wants to silence the critics

bruins_blue_jackets_jimmy_hayes_092616.jpg

Hayes knows he's a good player, wants to silence the critics

BOSTON, Mass. – There’s a long way to go toward a complete resurrection from last season’s misdeeds, but Jimmy Hayes made a nice little statement that he’s learned some lessons in Boston’s preseason debut. The Bruins lost the game, 3-2, in the shootout to the Columbus Blue Jackets, but Hayes scored one of the two goals for the Black and Gold as one of the few veterans in a very youthful lineup for Boston.

The Hayes goal was a nice give-and-go with Jake DeBrusk at the end of a nice transition play in the second period, and was the highlight of a night playing on the right wing with DeBrusk and center Austin Czarnik. The score and a team-high four shots on net for Hayes represent a good start for what he hopes is a gigantic rebound season after last year’s disappointment.

Clearly Hayes heard some of the unflattering chatter about him on sports talk radio and otherwise last season, and may even understand how his difficult season in his home city of Boston -- whether he actively expressed it to him or not -- might have been a factor in his buddy Jimmy Vesey ultimately choosing New York over Boston.

It appears the former Boston College standout is looking to change the conversation in Boston. 

“Yeah, sure am. I’ve got a lot to come out here and…[there were] a lot of comments about myself, but I know I’m a good player. I got to this level for a reason,” said Hayes, who dropped from 19 goals and 35 points with the Panthers to 13 goals, 29 points and a career-worst minus-12 for the Bruins last season.

“To be able to play at the NHL level and continue to play at that level on a consistent basis is what I expect out of myself. I do it for myself and our teammates, and to help our team win. I’ll continue moving forward.

“It’s funny being the old guy on the line. It’s nice to see those young guys and see how excited they are, and how excited I am to get back out there. That’s what I said to the guys, they still have the jitters and they still have them for the first preseason game. It shows that these guys want it and it’s been a lot of fun skating with those guys. They’ve got a lot of speed and to keep pushing the pace. Trying to keep up with them has been a lot of fun.”

There is still a long way to go for the 26-year-old winger, and his willingness to stick around the danger areas on Monday night was a welcomed one for a Bruins team that needs his 6-foot-6 body in front of the net. Hayes paid the price with stitches and a fat lip after taking a Dalton Prout high-stick to the mouth in front of the Columbus net that went uncalled on a Bruins PP at the end of the second period.

That’s all part of the big man’s game on the ice, however. It’s also the kind of battle and determined fight that Hayes will need to show much more consistently in his second season with the hometown Bruins if he’s truly looking to bounce-back from last year’s mediocre performance. 

Carlo 'arguably the best' defenseman for Bruins in preseason opener

bruins-brandon-carlo.jpg

Carlo 'arguably the best' defenseman for Bruins in preseason opener

BOSTON – On a night when many of Boston’s young players stepped up nicely, perhaps none did more so than 19-year-old defenseman Brandon Carlo. The youngster was in a top pair role with John-Michael Liles against a decent Columbus Blue Jackets lineup that included Sam Gagner, Alexander Wennberg, Seth Jones, Brandon Saad and Sonny Milano, and had almost no miscues in his 20:16 of ice time.

Better than that, Carlo notched an assist on the game-tying score in the third period when his right point shot made it through traffic for Danton Heinen to redirect it past Curtis McElhinney from the slot. That left Carlo with an assist, a plus-1 rating and three shots on net in 20:16 of ice time to go along with some heavy battling around the net whenever Blue Jackets players tried to get too close.

“Arguably our best D, if not our best D. [He showed] real good decision-making, and his gaps are good. I can really only think of one time in the third period he kind of threw a puck away in the middle of a change, and ended up on his wrong side,” said Bruins assistant coach Bruce Cassidy. “It wasn’t a bad turnover, but it was just one that he could have made a little bit of a better decision.

“He didn’t handle the puck much in the game, that’s pretty good. He jumped up the ice, got his shot through when it was there, matched up well with whoever he was put out there [against], pushed back in front of our net. [There were] a lot of good things.”

It’s a big training camp for Carlo, who is more than likely earmarked for Providence unless he can utilize a stellar training camp performance to push over one of the seven veteran Bruins D-men with NHL contracts. That means potentially displacing Joe Morrow as the seventh defensemen on the roster, or forcing the Bruins to possibly deal Adam McQuaid or Kevan Miller if the Bruins feel he is ready for the day-to-day NHL grind.

The preseason opener was a good start that the 2015 second round pick was excited about, but things will certainly get more challenging for Carlo as the Bruins get deeper into this training camp.

“I just want to keep the same mentality, same energy. Show a little bit more physicality. I felt like I did that, but definitely could close a little quicker in a few instances overall. I just want to keep building on every game,” said Carlo. “There are some very strong guys on the puck in this league and throughout this game they had those guys out there definitely. Overall, you just have to compete just as hard as them.

“You’re dealing with NHL guys out there. [The Blue Jackets] had some pretty good guys in their lineup tonight and everyone is competing for jobs on both sides…so the speed was phenomenal. I loved it.”

The Bruins loved what they saw of Carlo in a pretty big opportunity right out of the gate this preseason, and now the teenager has set the bar if he wants to keep pushing with a hockey club that needs to upgrade their defense with strong, young players.