NEW YORK CITY – Dougie Hamilton is probably headed to the ninth floor of the TD Garden press box on Saturday afternoon if Dennis Seidenberg is healthy enough to make a return to the lineup.
The 19-year-old visibly upset on Thursday night following the Game 4 loss to the New York Rangers, a 4-3 overtime decision, and it was Hamilton that couldn’t knock former Boston College forward Chris Kreider off the puck prior to him redirecting a shot past Tuukka Rask in the extra session. Hamilton was his own worst critic on that play, saying he should have been able to bother the Rangers forward enough to keep that play from developing.
Hamilton was also berating himself for not communicating with Zdeno Chara and Rask, and letting them know that crafty New York forward Derek Stepan was sneaking behind them. Instead Stepan stripped Chara at the side of the net, and potted the game-tying strike past a surprised Rask in the opening few minutes of the third period.
“That last play is bugging me. It’s one I feel like I have to have. I feel like I kind of let the team down. I have to obviously get in the way, and remove his stick from being able to play that puck,” Hamilton said. “If I get rid of the stick the puck goes in the corner, that’s it. That’s the play. I’m pretty upset.
“You just have to forget about it, I guess, and move on. That’s what you have to do.”
All of that plus having been on the ice for five of Boston’s last seven goals allowed probably means that Hamilton will be the first of the “Three Baby Bears” removed from the lineup when Seidenberg makes his return. It was always a natural fit to switch Hamilton out for the German defenseman, and install him right back into the shutdown pairing with Chara at the top of the B’s blueliner heap.
Seidenberg has been practicing for the last three days with the Bruins, and Julien hinted that installing him back in the lineup might be coming up for an important Game 5 back at TD Garden.
But it’s clearly not all negativity or mistakes with Hamilton in the playoffs. He’s performed well in a difficult task as Chara’s defensive partner playing against top tier offensive performers, and it was his slick give-and-go play with Tyler Seguin that gave the Bruins a third-period lead. The 2011 first round pick has three assists in four games against the Rangers, and has an even plus/minus rating while assisting Torey Krug in giving that second PP unit life during the postseason.
“He made a great pass back to me. He does that a lot,” Seguin said. “If you notice some goals we’ve scored over this year, he’s really good at making that play. I’m just glad I got to the rebound, and it went in.”
Without Hamilton’s offensive ability things might not have even made it to overtime for a Boston hockey club that spent much of the third period on its heels. So while it’s good that Seidenberg is ready to return and stabilize the defense, there’s no cause for celebration losing Hamilton’s considerable skill on the offensive side of the ice.