Potentially AHL-bound during this season’s training camp, Dougie Hamilton has shown drastic improvements in his game. Despite rotating playing time with other Boston blueliners Adam McQuaid and Matt Bartkowski, Hamilton has made the most of his opportunities.
He showed off his offensive prowess on Wednesday night, scoring the game-winning goal against the rival Buffalo Sabres on a beautiful rush.
Early in the season, Hamilton has thrived with his breakout passes and overall play in the offensive zone. While he certainly needs to build a stronger frame and be tougher on the puck, he has been a lot more physical this season, establishing his NHL presence.
The jump from Junior to professional hockey can be tough on any player, particularly defensemen with a slender build- like Hamilton.
Bruins fans must be patient with the teenaged Larry Bird look-a-like, who certainly has star-in-the-making pedigree.
Hamilton played a solid first two periods of Thursday’s game against the San Jose Sharks.
However, the Bruins, working with heavy legs on their second night of a back-to-back, going against an elite, well-rested San Jose team, were getting buried with shots all game long. Hamilton handled the pressure well for the first two periods, using a quick stick to thwart opportunities and strong breakout passes to turn play the other way.
In the third, the general fatigue seemed to catch up to Hamilton and the rest of the Bruins.
Poor net-coverage led to equalizer, as Hamilton and Dennis Seidenberg failed to get the puck out, leading to an eventual rebound goal for Patrick Marleau. It was an own-zone scramble for all of the Bruins, who were chasing rather than dictating play.
Jarome Iginla had initially given Boston a 1-0 lead on his first goal as a Bruins.
At times it’s easy to notice Hamilton get out-muscled for a loose puck, but he often rebounds with an active stick and ability to make up for mistakes with terrific mobility. Getting stronger is essential for any potential stardom, but it’s hard to not to like everything else about his game- that size, plus the skating, you don’t see that often.
The Bruins defeated the Sharks 2-1, scoring a literal last second goal with only .8 left on the clock. One of the most exciting victories on the young season, the goal came on a David Krejci tip after a monsterous shift by Milan Lucic- who continues his dominant pace this season.
“When you’re coaching the team that won you say, ‘Good job’ to your team because I thought we did a good job of – we use the term weathering the storm,” said Bruins coach Claude Julien after the game.
“In that first period, they had their game plan, it was to come out at us hard and really put us on our heels for a team that played and traveled the night before. They had a great game plan and Tuukka [Rask] just stood tall and kept us in the game. So we managed to score that first goal, I thought our second period was a little better after we found our legs. So overall, it becomes one of those things where you enjoy the fact that your team found a way to win and never quit. So I’m not going to stand here and say we were the better team tonight but we were the team that won.”
Rask certainly had his best game of the season, saving 38 of 39 San Jose shots, with some beauties to say the least.
While Hamilton was a big factor in San Jose’s lone goal, he continues to show drastic improvements in his game and should only get better.
While some may cling to the belief that top-line big minutes at the AHL level would be best for the young defensemen, as long as he continues to play well he should see continued reps in Boston’s lineup.
It’ll be fun to see how the former ninth overall pick progresses this season.