BostonBruins.com – Just about every day since the Bruins started training camp, Head Coach Claude Julien has been asked about young defenseman Dougie Hamilton. What has he thought of his game? Is he ready to play at the NHL level? Will he be sent back to juniors?
And every time, Julien has responded with nothing but glowing praise of the former first round pick in the 2011 NHL Draft.
After the Black & Gold’s 4-3 overtime loss to the New York Rangers on Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden, the B’s bench boss had his highest praise yet for the youngster.
Despite being caught slightly out of position on the Rangers’ second goal, Hamilton, Julien said, was, “outstanding - not good, outstanding.”
The 6-foot-5, 199-pound D-man came back from the first period misstep, showing off his silky smooth skating, stick-handling ability, and patience with the puck in the offensive end. Numerous times, instead of firing the puck into the shins of the Rangers’ forwards, Hamilton held on, moved to the middle of the ice and fired off a blistering slap shot. He led the team with four shots on goal.
“Obviously, it’s tough against them, they drop every time they can,” said the 19-year-old of the Rangers’ tremendous shot-blocking ability. “Just at the end, I was trying to get a few through and just got it in [Henrik Lundqvist’s] glove a few too many times, but just trying my best to get a little bit going.”
Hamilton led all B’s defensemen with 4:23 of power-play time – just inching past Zdeno Chara, who registered 4:20 – and played a huge part in the Bruins’ first PP goal of the year.
With Boston down 2-0, Rangers’ defenseman Marc Staal took a slashing penalty just 18 seconds into the second period. Hamilton, manning the middle of the blue line, received a pass from Rich Peverley and ripped a shot on goal.
Brad Marchand was out front, screening Lundqvist and got a piece of the puck, deflecting it into the net to cut the Ranger lead to 2-1, just 1:05 into the second period.
The assist was Hamilton’s first career NHL point.
Julien applauded his young defenseman’s performance at both ends of the ice, pointing out Hamilton’s poise and great decision making with the puck.
“Anybody who watched the game tonight had to see this guy was outstanding – not good, outstanding,” said Julien. “He was so poised and confident. If anybody thinks he can’t play in this league, they should just take some time to watch this game.
“I really, really liked his game and how poised, not just defensively, but offensively. He made the great play on the power play goal in the last two seconds. He’s poised with the puck and just gets it out, doesn’t turn it over.
“I don’t know what more to say about this guy, but I think his teammates are seeing the Dougie Hamilton that everybody’s projecting. Right now, we’ve got to keep him going with lots of confidence because that’s what he’s shown and it’s paid off.”