Hamilton on facing Bruins: ‘Treat it like any another game’


Hamilton on facing Bruins: ‘Treat it like any another game’

CALGARY – So, we can dispel one Dougie Hamilton myth pretty quickly right off the bat.

He went to dinner with at least one of his teammates on Thursday night prior to Friday’s showdown between the Bruins and Flames at the Scotiabank Saddledome, so any dislike for him wasn’t “unanimous” in the Bruins dressing room as was infamously reported this summer.

Once again on Friday following morning skate, the 22-year-old had nothing but positives to say about his experience in Boston, and his time with the Bruins. He did voice disappointment with the post-trade criticism that he was not well-liked on the team, and that he simply didn’t want to play for the Bruins anymore.

Hamilton maintains it was quite the opposite, in fact.

“I’m going to try to treat it like any other game. It’s a little different when it’s your friends that you’re going up against, but I’ll just try to play my game,” said Hamilton. “I think there will always be a little bit of Boston in me, and I’m thankful for everything they gave me. You spend a couple of years really cheering for them, and dreaming of putting that jersey on when you’re drafted.

“So you spend a couple of years like that, and then it all changes pretty quick. So I still like the B’s, and the guys on their team and stuff. For me it’s already passed and I’ve moved on. I’m enjoying my time here. It’ll be fun tonight, and hopefully we can win.”

One thing the defenseman would admit was some of the same issues that cropped up with Tyler Seguin in Boston amongst a group of well-established veterans that were more preoccupied with family time than team-bonding experiences. It’s become a hard question that the Bruins are asking themselves internally about why Phil Kessel, Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton were all bad fits in Boston as elite-skilled lottery picks in the first round, and all moved in trades within a 10-year period.

Either the Bruins aren’t doing enough due diligence on the kid’s backgrounds prior to drafting them, or the atmosphere at the NHL level hasn’t been patient enough waiting for their formidable skills to develop.

B’s President Cam Neely admitted to this summer during the Winter Classic announcement at Foxboro that it’s an issue the team is fully investigating.

“We obviously take a hard look at something like that,” said Neely. “It’s something we’re aware of, and we have to build an organization where we’re drafting and developing, and developing not just on the ice but off the ice as well…expectations for the organization, and what do we expect from a professional hockey player that’s going to play for the Boston Bruins.

“We have to help nurture them. It’s a tough transition for a young player going to a big city where it’s really focused on the sport, and [the young players] don’t really know anybody outside of the game. It’s something we’ve looked at…how we do improve the club from top to bottom both on and off the ice?”

Essentially it’s more of a comfortable environment for Hamilton on a team stacked with talented 20-somethings like Johnny Gaudreau, Sam Bennett and Sean Monahan rather than a grizzled, battle-hardened group of Bruins that didn’t have a lot in common with the cerebral Hamilton.

“I don’t know. I think it’s probably the same challenge for every young player in the league,” said Hamilton. “For me when I first came to Boston, I was playing junior before that and hanging out 16-year-olds. Everybody is kind of going to school, and going to movies together and stuff like that.

“When you come to the NHL everybody has families, and you don’t hang out as much at the rink. Guys are going home to their families and kids. That’s an adjustment that every young player in the league has to make.”

Whatever the case, the full truth is never coming out from either side.

The Bruins certainly look like they had a well-orchestrated plan to deal Hamilton, and then move up in the draft to select a Dougie replacement in Boston College product Noah Hanifin. That is until the second half of the deal fell apart for Don Sweeney and the B’s, and they were left scrambling a bit with three consecutive first round picks in the middle of the draft.

Still, the fact the Bruins were looking to move on from Hamilton spoke volumes about their uneasiness in assuming he would develop into the eventual No. 1 D-man replacement for Zdeno Chara. Certainly there was an unwillingness to pay Hamilton like that kind of a player just three years into his NHL career.

Hamilton also had his moments where he could be high maintenance in Boston: he was a little more sensitive than most to criticism of his game in the media, and – as is the case with many of the lottery first round picks and World Junior players in Canada – his family was pretty heavily involved in the path of Hamilton’s hockey career.

It would seem all of these factors played some contributing role in what went down with Hamilton, but he wasn’t going to open up on any of it.

“There’s not really much to say, I don’t think,” said Hamilton. “You get ready to go to a whole new team, new country and new teammates. It’s a new experience and I’ve enjoyed it so far.

“At the end of the day people can say whatever they want. For me I know the truth and I know who I am as a person, and I think people that know me know that too. I think that’s what kind of matters, so you don’t pay too much attention to [the criticism].”

The bottom line is that both player and team are paying the price for their quickie divorce last summer at the draft. Hamilton has only six points and a minus-6 in 25 games while struggling to adjust to a new team, and a new home in Calgary while not even looking like the D-man he was in his final year in Boston.

He’s played better lately and had the overtime game-winner in a comeback victory for the Flames over the Stars in their last game, but he has a long way to go before he’s earning the big money he signed for in Calgary. On the other side, the Bruins have struggled defensively while currently ranking 22nd in the league overall, and are trying to get by with a couple of rookies (Zach Trotman and Colin Miller) in their top-4 group right now.

So, they clearly still both miss each other, and it underscores how on some level it still seems fairly absurd that player and team couldn’t find a way to make things work last summer.


Talking Points: Bruins' new-look David Krejci line pays off late in 3-2 win over Vegas

Talking Points: Bruins' new-look David Krejci line pays off late in 3-2 win over Vegas

GOLD STAR: David Krejci missed a couple of games with an upper-body injury, but made sure he returned for this final game ahead of the 10-day break for All-Star weekend and the bye week. And Krejci was a difference-maker. He scored the game-winner in the third period when he popped in a rebound of a Brandon Carlo point shot. 

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Krejci finished with a goal and two points along with a plus-1 rating with 18:04 of ice time, one shot on net, one takeaway and one blocked shots along with 6 of 12 face-off wins while centering Danton Heinen and Karson Kuhlman on a new-look line. It remains to be seen how the forward groups will be divided up when the Bruins come back from break, but things worked out pretty well in the 3-2 victory over Vegas on Tuesday night.

BLACK EYE: The Bruins won the game, but did it in spite of a power play that struggled mightily. 

The B's man-advantage went 0-for-5 on the power play against a Vegas team that’s stepped up its aggressiveness on the penalty kill. Boston managed just three shots on net in all that time on the man-advantage. 

They still won in spite of it all, obviously, but the B’s special teams were lousy with a powerless power play and a penalty kill that allowed a PP goal to the Golden Knights. 

Now, the Bruins' power play gets 10 days to re-energize and perhaps figure out a few new tricks.

TURNING POINT: The Bruins trailed 2-1 headed into the third period and it didn’t appear it was going to be their night. Still, they managed to summon a little extra effort in that final 20 minutes, outshot Vegas 14-13 and scored a pair of goals to win in regulation rather than risk another overtime or shootout loss.

It was Jake DeBrusk who scored on a left-wing rush to tie things up in the third and then Krejci who won it in the final few minutes before the Golden Knights got desperate by pulling their goalie. It was certainly a different tack for the B’s in this one. Rather than blowing a lead as they’d done a few times over the past couple of weeks, they rallied in the third to win it. 

HONORABLE MENTION: Good job by Jeremy Lauzon to step up and fill in at a time when the Bruins needed a little more physical thump. Even better, Lauzon managed to score his second career NHL goal on a deep point shot that traveled through a few Vegas bodies on its way to the net for Boston’s first score. 

Lauzon finished with the goal along with a plus-2 rating, two shot attempts, four registered hits and a blocked shot in 15:38 of ice time while also filling a lead role on the penalty kill. Considering it was Lauzon’s first NHL appearance of the season, it was very good with the physical, gritty play that could lead to more looks this season.

BY THE NUMBERS: 22:53 – the Bruins leading ice time player was Brad Marchand among forwards and defensemen in a game that featured plenty of special-teams situations.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “We did some good things [in] this first stretch. Enjoy yourself and get away wherever you’re going, mentally cleanse. But understand that [when] we get back, we get at it pretty quick.” –Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy on his message to his Bruins players headed into the 10-day break.

Mind-blowing stat shows importance of Jake DeBrusk scoring for the Bruins

USA TODAY Sports photo

Mind-blowing stat shows importance of Jake DeBrusk scoring for the Bruins

The Boston Bruins are often carried by the efforts of The Perfection Line. Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and David Pastrnak had accounted for 79 of the team's 166 goals entering Tuesday night's game and were a massive part of their hot start to the season.

But secondary scoring is important as well. And in particular, Jake DeBrusk getting goals tends to have a really positive impact on the Bruins.

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According to the "Boston Sports Info" Twitter account, the Bruins are a remarkable 44-5-1 when DeBrusk scores in the regular season.

And in the playoffs, the Bruins are 6-3 when DeBrusk scores at least once. 

DeBrusk was a key for the Bruins in their 3-2 win over the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday night. He scored the tying goal for the team early in the third period to afford them the opportunity to come from behind to win.

Moving forward, DeBrusk's scoring will be important. The Bruins are simply better when he produces goals and when the second line can impact the game. If this is the start of a hot streak for him, it could coincide with the B's getting hot.

Of course, they'll have to get through a lengthy All-Star break before that can happen. The Bruins won't play again until Jan. 31 when they travel to Winnipeg to take on the Jets.