BOSTON – If there’s any silver lining to the Bruins premature exit to the Stanley Cup playoffs, it was the play of young defensemen Dougie Hamilton and Torey Krug, who look like fixtures in Black and Gold for years to come.
Hamilton finished with two goals and seven points along with a plus-1 rating in 12 games matched with Zdeno Chara as Boston’s top defensemen pairing, and played what many agree was the best hockey of his young career.
“Obviously the team having success is the most important thing when it gets to be playoff time, but I’ll definitely go into next season more confident after the way this season ended for me,” said Hamilton. “I thought I was playing some of my best hockey from the last two years.”
Krug had two goals and 10 points in 12 games and was one of the few Boston players still able to continue his work as an offensive catalyst when so many others tightened up around the net. Unfortunately, Krug was also a minus-4 in the seven games against the Canadiens and struggled with puck management when the pressure was dialed up against him.
That’s something Krug will be focused on heading into next year.
“One thing I’ll definitely be focused on is losing that label of offensive defenseman that seems to be attached to me a little bit,” said Krug, who was probably the single biggest reason behind the B’s power play revival this season with his work from the point. “I understand that making plays offensively and performing on the power play is a big part of my game, but I also want to be known for playing a reliable game in the defensive zone.”
Still, that’s part of the learning process for both players, and both Bruins management and the coaching staff knew that while watching both D-men keep trying to make plays for a Boston team battling to get out of the second round.
Hamilton was solid playing with a banged up Chara in the last few games against Montreal. He was a game-changing force against the Red Wings while stepping up to make offensive plays that crushed the Detroit defense.
Both players are young, agile, skilled defenseman capable of creating shooting lanes with their mobility and have elite passing and shooting skills that will continue to create larger amounts of offense for Boston.
“I thought it was a real coming out for Dougie [Hamilton]. He had a real – he made mistakes, don’t get me wrong. But I think he had, by the end, a real good playoff,” said B’s general manager Peter Chiarelli. “You saw the confidence, you saw something that Claude [Julien] has been working on with the defending.
“He still has areas to improve on there, but he is really defending with more strength. He’s not always been good with the puck, but he had a really solid, real solid playoff. As did Torey [Krug] while we’re talking about young defenseman. He played well too.”
The 20-year-old Hamilton and the 23-year-old Krug – a restricted free agent this summer – are both just scratching the surface of how good they’ll be as NHLers after their first really formative experience as core members of the Bruins group.
The playoff experience for both was such a positive experience individually that both Hamilton and Krug will come to training camp in September knowing they’re an important part of Boston’s roster and they’re just beginning to learn just how much each of them is capable of at the NHL level.