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Bruins have faith they can turn to rookie Hamilton

by Matt Kalman

BOSTON -- Boston Bruins defenseman Dougie Hamilton wanted some advice on how to make an impact when he eventually debuted in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, so he asked teammate Tyler Seguin.

"Yeah, he told me just to go out and have fun. It's a different game out there. And he said, 'If you do what I did, you'll be fine.' 'Just get six points in two games,' he said," Hamilton recalled after the Bruins' morning skate Saturday. "I don't think that will happen. I just want to come in and do my best and hopefully get another win."

Unlike Seguin, who had to wait until the Eastern Conference Finals in 2011 to make his playoff debut (he posted 3-3-6 totals in the first two games of that series), Hamilton looks primed to get into the lineup sooner in 2013. With Andrew Ference suspended for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against Toronto (7 p.m. CNBC, CBC), Hamilton is the leading candidate to replace the veteran who ranked fourth on the team in ice time during the regular season.

Hamilton, who skated on a pair with veteran Wade Redden in practice Friday and during the morning skate, totaled 16 points (five goals) in 42 games as a 19-year-old. But he was scratched for six of the Bruins' last nine games, and the final three before the postseason.

"Nothing more than what I said," Bruins coach Claude Julien said about his reasons for sitting Hamilton. "We had players we had to look at. He played lots of hockey. We'd seen enough of Dougie to see exactly what he could bring to our team. The rest is not something that's going to hurt him.

"Now I know people seem to wonder why we talk about him being rested. It's simple. I said it before, he's played more hockey than any player on our team. When you start in August, and you represent Canada, not once but twice, and then you play your junior games with your team and play the minutes that he played. And then to come over here and play the schedule we had, he deserved a rest. For that part, I think he's going to come back a better player when he does come back."

If Hamilton was tired at the end of the season, he never revealed it. He just played when called upon and put in the extra work when he wasn't playing. One year ago, he was in the Ontario Hockey League playoffs against the London Knights. Now the former Niagara Ice Dogs star could be part of an Original Six showdown on the sport's biggest stage.

"It's definitely pretty cool. I don't know, it's definitely weird looking back on it," Hamilton said about his rapid ascent up the ranks of the sport. "And I think I've gotten a lot better in a year. And I'm just looking forward to this opportunity."

The rest of the Bruins' defense corps, which features five veterans, four who have won the Stanley Cup, has faith in Hamilton.

"I think he's played in a few big games before. So I think he knows what to do, he knows how to think of his strengths and to keep the game simple," defenseman Dennis Seidenberg said. "He's got so much skill and you don't have to worry about his compete level, so you don't have to worry about him."

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