RALEIGH, NC Apparently it isnt a Bruins game these days without a big play from 19-year-old rookie Dougie Hamilton.
Once again it wasnt a perfect performance as his natural offensive instincts took him way away from his normal position in a key sequence at the end of the second period. Hamilton hung Chris Kelly out to dry on the Eric Staal goal that tied things at 3-3 when the Bruins center was forced to break the puck out of the defensive zone on his own.
But Hamilton made up for it by making a heady, slick cross-ice pass in the final two minutes of regulation that set up a David Krejci one-timer, and powered the Bruins to an entertaining 5-3 victory at PNC Arena.
Hamilton faked with a big shot from the right circle once he corralled wildly bouncing puck, and was on the money with a tape-to-tape pass.
I think were going to see a lot of this stuff. The thing that really impressed me about him when I watched him in junior this year was his vision, said Julien of the trip the Bs coach and GM Peter Chiarelli took to watch the young defenseman at Niagara during the lockout. He sees the ice so well and finds the open seams. You talk about the game-winning goal, but there was a few times he found an open guy right up the seam and got us going on our way in transition.
Thats what weve been talking about for a long time. We wanted some guys that can move the puck. Were big and now we find some defenseman that can move the puck extremely well. He certainly fits that mold.
Hamilton now has assists in three straight games for the Bruins, and has posted four assists in five games while keeping close pace with fellow rookie blueliner Justin Schultz (2 goals, 3 assists in four games) of the Edmonton Oilers. Bostons rookie blueliner finished with four shots on net and a pair of hits in 19:19 of ice time. That all of this happened on the day when the Bruins made it official Hamilton wont be going back to junior hockey was all the sweeter for the first year player.
The Bruins had until Hamilton suits up for his sixth game to make a decision on whether or not to return him to the OHLs Niagara IceDogs, but the understanding was that he was going to stick with the NHL club unless he fell flat on his face. It became the biggest no-brainer in the history of earth to keep the teenaged skater after watching him excel in some pretty big spots.
Hamilton has done the exact opposite of struggling while becoming one of the most impactful rookies in the league over the seasons first two weeks.
He has a lot of poise and he plays a very mature game, said Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli. Im sure inside he felt relieved, but based on how Ive seen him play, it wouldnt surprise me if his play doesnt go one way or the other now that he knows hes staying because hes a real poised and mature player.
Chiarelli said he told him a week ago that things were looking good for him to stick with the Bruins in these terms: Look, things are going well, so dont screw it up.
Hamilton has proceeded to not screw up in the best way possible and even more impressively didnt relax or ease up after learning of his favorable NHL fate. Now he'll move in and live with defenseman Adam McQuaid for the rest of this season as he continues to assimilate into the NHL lifestyle as a wide-eyed youngster.
Its just overall excitement, said Hamilton. Its been my dream ever since I was a little kid to play in the NHL. So I think for me its a dream come true. I just want to keep on getting better and having fun.
The dream is just getting started for Hamilton and the Bruins, and its clear neither player nor team will be waking up anytime soon.