Hamill, Bruins at a crossroad


Hamill, Bruins at a crossroad

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
WILMINGTON While Zach Hamill hasnt been a part of the Bruins development camp over the last couple of years, the 2007 first round pick was still a big topic of conversation at Ristuccia Arena.

The 22-year-old has a pair of assists in four games with the Bruins over the last two seasons, and actually flashed a little bit of playmaking talent in three games with Boston in the middle of last season. But the 5-foot-10, 180-pounder has struggled with scoring during his time with the Providence Bruins, and hasnt developed into the point-per-game scorer he was with the WHLs Everett Silvertips.

Physical strength has been a big issue for Hamill in his time with Providence, and hes never been a big two-way factor working out of the pivot position.

The junior hockey career saw him get drafted No. 9 overall by the Bruins in 2007, and picked ahead of San Joses Logan Couture, Carolinas Brandon Sutter, Montreals Max Pacioretty and St. Louis David Perron. Clearly the Bruins would have liked the pick given the 2020 nature of hindsight, but Hamill has one more season to regain his value one way or another.

Cassidy said that the P-Bruins may move Hamill to a wing position while trying to find something to speak more out of the forward than the 43 points (9 goals, 34 assists) in 68 AHL games last season.

"He hasn't developed as well as we've all hoped," Providence Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said following Day No. 2 of development camp. "We all know that up front. Part of that has to fall on the coaching staff. Part of that has to fall on the individual. We move forward and Zach gets an opportunity to work with a new coaching staff, per se. Maybe that motivates him.

Maybe we look at moving him around in a different position. He's been a center iceman. Maybe we try him on the wing. It's a little unorthodox and thinking out of the box. But maybe that gets his game to another level, putting him with some players that can make him a better player also. At the end of the day, when you're in your fourth year with the same organization, it falls upon yourself just to push people. The individual has to recognize what's going on around him. A few people have passed him. It's time for him to start passing some younger guys that have come in the last couple years. Whether he's ready to do that, we'll find out in September.

Cassidy also acknowledged that it might be Hamills mission to get another NHL team to notice him with limited opportunities to crack a Stanley Cup winning roster full of Bruins players.

He was a top pick and sometimes theres no room. When you win a Stanley Cup theres obviously good players and there might not be room, said Cassidy. But for him, part of his process could be hey there are twenty nine other teams, maybe if I show other people I can play then hes still an asset to the Bruins. Maybe he gets other teams to start thinking about him in their line-up that are weaker up front. Thats sort of how Zach has to approach it. I think both at a personal level that hey Ive got to find a home somewhere else if its not here by playing well.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Haggerty: Bruins continue to stumble against Canadiens at home

Haggerty: Bruins continue to stumble against Canadiens at home

BOSTON -- One of the definitions of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

Much like Charlie Brown was never going to actually kick the football before Lucy pulled it away, it feels like the Bruins are never again going to beat the Montreal Canadiens at TD Garden. They failed again Saturday night, never holding a lead at any point as they dropped their ninth straight home game to the Habs, 4-2.

Bruins-Canadiens games in Boston have become the hockey version of 'Groundhog Day', as the same patterns emerge over and over again: Montreal's speed forces the Bruins into mistakes with the puck; Habs players draw the B’s into taking bad penalties; Carey Price dominates in goal. It's been that way ever since the last Bruin victory over Montreal at the Garden, on Jan. 12, 2012. To put it perspective, Tim Thomas and Tyler Seguin were still Bruins back then.

Saturday night's loss, though, had a little added twist: The B's second-period woes, such a problem last year, reared its ugly head again.

“[The second period was] terrible, and that’s where it really hurt us," said Claude Julien. "I thought we played well (in the first period) . . . But the second period came back to haunt us. We were flat coming out. We didn’t make good outlet passes, and we spent way too much time in our own end, and because of that, it gave them some momentum. And by the end of it, we cheated ourselves a little bit, and pucks ended up in the back of our net . . .

"[When] you give up four goals to Montreal, and you have Price at the other end, it’s pretty hard to beat that team. So we needed to be better . . . [We] shot ourselves in the foot with some real poor mistakes, and we can’t afford to do that against the Montreal Canadiens."

The Bruins were essentially done for after a couple of very typical Boston-Montreal plays went against them in the middle 20 minutes.

The first was a defensive coverage breakdown in the D-zone that allowed both Max Pacioretty and Brendan Gallagher to operate with time and space. Five B’s players simply watched as Gallagher smoked a one-timer from the outside of the left circle that eluded Anton Khudobin.

Then, later in the period, John-Michael Liles misread a play where he pinched deep in the offensive zone and couldn’t control the puck. As a result, Alexander Radulov worked a 2-on-1 with Phillip Danault to skilled perfection on a typical Habs transition play.

"I think our second period has got to be better overall," said Patrice Bergeron. "We talked about them having a good forecheck . . . [but] we didn’t make the easy plays too many times. When you do that, it creates turnovers and you spend more time in your zone than you’d like to."

From there, it was just more of the same. Playing with the lead, Montreal was able to neutralize Bergeron and Brad Marchand; Bergeron never got a shot on goal. Price came up big when he had to, shutting down a couple of Ryan Spooner chances.

And Bruin weaknesses were exposed, things Julien and the coaching staff may have to address. It looks like it’s time to move on from the Joe Morrow/Torey Krug defense pairing; it's simply not working. (Krug, in particular, was a minus-3 and made mistakes all over the ice.) They also may need to switch things up with the forwards, as they're getting zippo offensively from their second and third lines.

To their credit, the Bruins never packed it in. They hung in and made plays in the third period to keep the game close, right up to the 6-on-3 advantage they had at the end. But there are no consolation prizes or moral victories in the Boston-Montreal rivalry, especially when the Habs have made it so one-sided.

To be a true rivalry, you need equal rivals. And the Bruins, especially at home, aren’t holding up their end of the bargain.

Bruins need to 'find a way to start playing with a lead'

Bruins need to 'find a way to start playing with a lead'

BOSTON -- There’s only so long that a team can hope to thrive, or even survive, in the NHL if they’re constantly chasing the game on the scoreboard, and chasing the puck after digging themselves a hole. The Bruins have been that team in the first couple of weeks during the regular season, and made it five times in five games that they’ve given up the game’s first goal in an eventual 4-2 loss to the Montreal Canadiens at TD Garden.

It’s a pattern that is long past getting old to Bruins head coach Claude Julien, who can’t seem to play the front-runner this season despite three comebacks that have allowed for a 3-2-0 record overall this season.

“I hope it’s not a habit. It’s certainly not what we’re looking for, but there’s no doubt. I think it’s pretty obvious that with the amount of games we’ve played, five games, we haven’t scored first,” said Julien. “We talked about that this morning, trying to get that first goal, and it hasn’t happened yet.”

The start to the game wasn’t really the problem on Saturday night as it’s been a couple of times this season. Instead the Bruins enjoyed a handful of quality scoring chances in the opening 20 minutes against the Habs, but couldn’t come through and finish off those plays when it might have meant an early lead.

Instead it lead to what Julien termed a “terrible” second period that was flat, full of mistakes and ended with the B’s trailing Montreal by a couple of goals. The Bruins scratched and clawed their way to making it a one-goal game in the third period, but that was as close as the Black and Gold would get in losing their ninth straight home game to the arch-rival Canadiens.

“It’s kind of been a story about how things are going for us this far, we’ve got to find a way to start playing with a lead. If you don’t capitalize on your chances, you see what happens when you come out [flat] in the second period,” said Torey Krug, who finished a game-worst minus-3 in the loss for the Bruins. “We had another poor second period and you know it’s kind of… you got to make sure that we put our hand on that and it doesn’t become a thing for the team this year. You see that when you don’t capitalize on chances early, that’s what’s going to happen.”

It’s been a positive development that the Bruins have shown the willingness and backbone to fight back into games after early deficits, and they showed that quality once again on Saturday night by scoring a couple of goals in the third period to keep things close. But the Bruins would be best served if they can start lighting the lamp a little earlier in these games, and see how the other half lives by playing with a comfortable lead every once in a while.