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Dougie Hamilton, the ninth overall pick in last summer’s draft, has transitioned tremendously to the NHL. The 19-year-old prospect provides crucial offense to Boston’s back end, showing Bruins fans a talent they haven’t witnessed since the likes of Ray Bourque and Bobby Orr skated at the Garden.
“He is very calm, and he’s very poised,” coach Claude Julien said before Sunday night’s game against the Montreal Canadiens.
“You can see that in his play too- the way he moves the puck for a young defenseman, a 19-year-old, to come in and be put in that kind of situation, I like the way he handles himself. No matter what happens with him, he never gets discouraged. “
The Bruins head coach seemed particularly impressed with the rookie’s “big play” ability: “We like the fact that he’s got a great vision of the play and certainly has made some big plays; we remember those winning goals early in the beginning of our regular schedule where he made some great plays to allow us to score those winning goals, one was in Carolina. He really finds those open guys.”
Hamilton continued his contributions on Saturday, when he even helped the daunted Bruins power play unit get a key goal in an impressive comeback victory against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Hamilton’s lateral movement, blue-line play, and Bourque-like vision helped create the goal, which sparked the Bruins to victory.
Montreal, Boston’s biggest rival, provided Hamilton with a different test on Sunday night, as the Canadiens blend of speed, skill, and grit can give even the best of NHL defensemen major fits.
The rookie had a solid first period against the archrival Canadiens, staying consistent with his game, jumping up into the play, and using tremendous mobility to keep his defensive position.
With the score tied at two midway through the second period, the rookie came through with yet another “big play” moment.
Brad Marchand entered the offensive zone, and whipped a cross-ice pass to Hamilton who was parked next to the Montreal goal. Hamilton, in impressive fashion, slapped the bouncing puck out of mid-air past Montreal goaltender Peter Budaj, giving the Bruins their first lead of the game.
“Dougie” chants rained down from the Garden faithful in a rather cool moment. The youngster has become a fan favorite in the early goings of his first pro season, and rightfully so, his above-average offense and better than advertised defense have been a pivotal aspect of the Bruins success.
Hamilton finished the game with strong play, but the Bruins gave up two consecutive third period goals in a 4-3 loss to the Canadiens.
The game seemed to turn when Bruins captain Zdeno Chara was penalized for 17 minutes for instigating a fight with Montreal defensemen Alexei Emelin. Chara, who did the right thing by standing up for young Bruin Tyler Seguin, was forced to miss a majority of the third period while Montreal staged their attack.
Some will point to this the main reason for the loss, but that isn’t accurate. Boston’s forwards did a poor job of defensive coverage, particularly on the game-winning-goal by David Desharnais.
The Bruins will look to start a new winning streak on Tuesday, when they play the Washington Capitals in D.C. Can Dougie-Mania continue?
Inside Edge Hockey News – Writer – Matt Linsky
Follow Matt Linsky on Twitter @MLinskyHockey