Bruins

Hamilton has eyes on making Bruins despite lockout threat

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Hamilton has eyes on making Bruins despite lockout threat

So it appears that Dougie Hamilton will be a member of the Bruins next season when NHL hockey is finally ready to resume activity.

The 19-year-old defenseman will have to make the team out of training camp, of course, but Peter Chiarelli openly wondered earlier this summer whether Hamilton could get stuck in junior hockey if theres a work stoppage.

I dont know his status, said Chiarelli, back on July 24 at a press conference to announce Claude Juliens contract extension. But what I can tell you from a previous, a previous work stoppage is that those players that are under 20 and have been in the Canadian Hockey League generally go back to junior hockey.

The 2011 first round pick is too young at 19 years old to play in the AHL this upcoming season, and Hamilton confirmed that he will return to the OHLs Niagara IceDogs if theres a lockout to start the year. But the 6-foot-5 defenseman also said in the same breath hes pretty sure hell be leaving Niagara to report to Bruins training camp once the CBA is finally completed.

The only question now is whether thats September 15 along with the rest of the Bruins rookies for training camp, or when the NHL and NHLPA decide to finally get on the same page.

Im approaching it with an open mind, and just going day-by-day while getting ready for the camp, said Hamilton, who should play on the right side for the Bruins along with Johnny Boychuk and Adam McQuaid. Hopefully the lockout will end soon and I can go to camp and have that opportunity.

All of the 19-year-olds would be back in the OHL. I dont know if its set in stone yet or its just the word going around, but all of those guys would go back to their junior teams and then go to training camp when the NHL season starts. Its a little interesting, but I havent focused on it too much. I just want to work hard, have fun and get ready for everything. It could just be more of an opportunity to work out and get ready, I guess.

The young defenseman was part of the NHLPA Rookie Showcase in Toronto over the last couple of days, and really hasnt taken much of a break during the summer. Hamilton jumped from the Bruins Development Camp to the CanadaRussia Challenge and then to World Junior tryout camp while training for NHL camp with the Bruins. Hamilton skates with his brother, Freddie, along with a collection of AHL and European players during the downtime in the summer.

All that work is about making it in the NHL next season, and that aim hasnt wavered for Hamilton no matter whats happening with the labor issues within the league. Thats good news for a Bruins team licking their chops to utilize a D-Man that posted 72 points in 50 regular season games before posting 23 more points in 20 playoff games.

My goal is to make the Bruins and hopefully I get that opportunity, said Hamilton, who will miss out on the rookie preseason games on Florida that were recently cancelled in one of the first Bs casualties during the work stoppage. Those were pretty fun games that got you ready for camp. It will be different without them, but it will obviously be different this year with the lockout. Im just going with the flow.

Thats the best approach for a young guy like Hamilton.

Hes still very much one of the players in the grey area of the labor discord between a hockey league hes never played in and a players association he wont officially be a member of until he laces up his skates for his first NHL game. But it sounds like Hamilton will be armed, willing and ready whenever the NHL resumes its regular season, and that answers one of the burning Bruins questions this summer with CBA strife upon us all.

Morning Skate: No place for Gudas’ slash on Perreault

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Morning Skate: No place for Gudas’ slash on Perreault

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while enjoying the new Brown Sugar Cinnamon coffee flavor at Dunkin’ Donuts. It’s not Cookie Dough, but what is after all?

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) and PHT writer James O’Brien has the details on Radko Gudas getting ejected for an ugly, reckless and dangerous slash to Mathieu Perreault’s head last night. Gudas should be facing a long suspension for a play that has no place in the NHL. It’s time for Flyers fans to stop making excuses for a player who’s no better than a cheap-shot artist and hatchet man. He has to face the music for consistently trying to hurt his fellow players.  

*Frank Seravalli has some of the details for a historic GM meeting in Montreal where NHL hockey was born in the first place.

*You always need to link to a service dog being part of the pregame face-off ceremonies. That’s like a rule here at the morning skate?

*Cam Atkinson and the Columbus Blue Jackets have agreed to a seven-year contract extension, according to reports from the Athletic.

*It’s been quite an eventful year for Arizona Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet and some of it has been to the extreme both good and bad just a month into his first year as bench boss.

*For something completely different: Chris Mannix is all-in on the Celtics being the front-runners in the Eastern Conference after their big win over the Golden State Warriors.

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Haggerty: For now, Bruins need to ride Khudobin’s hot hand over Rask

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Haggerty: For now, Bruins need to ride Khudobin’s hot hand over Rask

These are desperate times for the Bruins even after pulling out a solid, blue-collar 2-1 win over a sputtering Los Angeles Kings team on Thursday night.

The victory ended a four-game losing streak and gave the Bruins just their second road win of the season in eight tries. It was also the fourth win of the season for backup netminder Anton Khudobin, who is a sterling 4-0-2 and has given them everything they could possibly hope for out of the backup spot. The Bruins have a grand total of 18 points on the season and Khudobin miraculously has more than half of those (10 to be exact).

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It’s clearly a far cry from last season for Khudobin, of course, when it took until February for the goalie’s season to get in gear.

But Thursday night’s 27-save effort from Khudobin was also a stunning contrast to what Tuukka Rask has been able to produce this season. Khudobin has a .928 save percentage and 2.35 goals-against average. Rask has a dreadful .897 save percentage while giving them average play between the pipes at best.  

Khudobin is tied for seventh in the NHL with reigning Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky in save percentage and Rask is chilling in the NHL goalie statistical basement with retreads Steve Mason and James Reimer.

Quite simply, Khudobin has been way better than Rask and the Bruins have, for whatever reason, played better hockey in front of their backup goalie. Some of it might also be about Khudobin’s more adaptable game behind a Boston defense that can make things unpredictable for their goaltender, but Rask is being paid $7 million a season to be better and figure it out. It would be amazing if this trend continued for the entire season and it would certainly merit more examination from management as to why the rest of the Bruins and Rask can’t seem to combine for an effective, winning product on the ice.

For now, the Bruins need to simply win by whatever means necessary and that amounts to riding Khudobin’s hot streak for as long as it lasts. It should begin with the backup goalie getting a second consecutive start against the San Jose Sharks on Saturday night and seeing where it goes from there. Perhaps the extra rest gets Rask additional time to get his game together, or serves as the kind of motivation to get the Finnish netminder into a mode where he can steal games for an undermanned, out-gunned team that needs that right now.

“We’re going to look at it,” said Bruce Cassidy, when asked postgame by reporters in L.A. about his goalie for Saturday night. “He played very well against San Jose last time. They’re a heavy team. He seems to do well in these kinds of games with a lot of traffic around the net. But we’ll look at that decision [Friday].”

Khudobin has stopped 57 of 61 shots in his two games in November, so perhaps that level of hot goaltending could also allow the Bruins to survive a month that otherwise might absolutely bury their playoff hopes. Maybe Khudobin finally loses on Saturday night and the goaltending conversation, not controversy, ends as quickly as his point streak. For now, riding the hot goalie is the right call for a team that needs something good to hang onto.

The Bruins are in desperation mode until they get a number of their injured players back. There certainly might not be more of a desperate option than setting their beleaguered sights on a goalie they sent to the minors as recently as last season. But it’s a new season, Khudobin has been excellent and he’s earned a chance to carry this team for a little bit until they can get things back in order.

Calling Khudobin’s number is the right call right now for the Bruins and, quite frankly, shouldn’t be that difficult a choice given what we’ve seen so far this season. 

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