MONTREAL — Healthy scratches aren’t expected to be a regular thing for Dougie Hamilton, so it was rather surprising in the team’s first practice since Hamilton was benched for Andrej Meszaros that Hamilton was skating on the team’s fourth pairing with Corey Potter.
“No, no, don’t read into that guys, I didn’t even make pairs today,” Julien said at the mention of Hamilton skating with Potter. “They just kind of paired themselves, believe it or not. We were just doing a practice here at moving pucks and so on and so forth. There was nothing; don’t read anything into what you saw today as far as who’s with who. Like I said, I didn’t even make pairs today.”
Though he did not say whether Hamilton will be back in the lineup Wednesday against the Canadiens, Julien stressed that Meszaros wasn’t acquired to take Hamilton’s job.
“Dougie’s not going to sit long,” Julien said. “Dougie has played good hockey and he’s been good for us, so Dougie is not going to be the guy that is going to be singled out here. Dougie is going to be back in our lineup, and it’s just a matter of me making those tough decisions.
“We hadn’t lost a game and we put Mez in; we played fairly well. Now we won again, [but it] doesn’t mean my lineup’s not going to change. So I’ve got to make some tough decisions here as we move forward, but the good part is we’ve got a lot of games in a short span of time, so there’s lots of room for everybody to get in there.”
As for Meszaros, Julien said that the team is trying out the left-shooting Meszaros on the right side — as it did Sunday when he played with Chara — to make sure he is comfortable playing both sides.
“He’s played left all year. He’s played right most of his career, but right now we know he can play left,” Julien said. “The toughest part is for a guy to play on his off-side, so we’ve got him playing right in practice right now just to make sure, because he hasn’t played the right side this year. He’s played for about 10 years on the right side, but this year he hadn’t played there, so we’re just giving him an opportunity here to get comfortable there as well because we’re going to need him to play both sides.”