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Dougie Hamilton is (finally) rested, better coordinated and ready for more 09.04.13 at 6:03 pm ET
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Dougie Hamilton is no longer a rookie. (AP)

Dougie Hamilton is no longer a rookie. (AP)

WILMINGTON — Even though he didn’t play in the last two rounds of the playoffs, Dougie Hamilton played a ton of hockey last season.

Last summer, Hamilton went from development camp to the Canada-Russia Challenge to the OHL for the lockout, where he played 32 games. Then the lockout ended and he played 42 games in the 48-game regular season before playing seven postseason games as a rookie.

Hamilton, now 20, is obviously young enough to be able to bounce back from a long stretch of lots of hockey, but he admitted Wednesday that by the time he got to camp for his rookie NHL season last year, he was “pretty worn down.”

So, in an effort to not overdo it, Hamilton said he did what he could to not only not play, but not even think about hockey in the offseason. He trained hard in the short time and continued in his quest to put on a little more weight, but Hamilton said he didn’t look at tape of his play as a rookie or rush to get on the ice early in the summer.

“I just kind of try to forget about hockey for a little bit, and I think you’ve got to be able to come in motivated and hungry,” he said.

That’s not to suggest Hamilton, who made his first appearance at captains practice on Wednesday, isn’t eager to begin his second NHL season. However, after what was probably the busiest stretch of his hockey life (development camp in July, the Canada-Russia challenge in August followed by a long season between Niagara and Boston that went well into June), he tried to get hockey off his mind.

“As a kid, I would always take a break and play other sports,” he said. “I think it’s hard to continuously play. You guys probably feel the same with your jobs. You need to get away from it a bit. I think just going back home, you’re already away from it. Just being away from the team, it makes it feel better when you come back.”

Hamilton will return as the youngest player on the Bruins, but he’s also no longer a rookie. Asked what he needs to work on to become a better player now that he’s a veteran, he joked that he still needs to “get older.”

He said he hasn’t reflected much on his rookie season — he’s definitely the type to look ahead and not back — but he does come in motivated to not let what happened last season happen again. Fellow rookies Torey Krug and Matt Bartkowski proved more valuable (or maybe just more left-shooting) than him, and as a result Hamilton watched the Eastern Conference finals and Stanley Cup finals from the press box as a healthy scratch.

“I think you’re doing what’s best for the team, and if that’s what we needed to win, then I was fine with that,” he said. “I think obviously you want to be playing and being on the ice, and of course you spent the summer working your hardest so that you’ll be playing and not sitting out.”

Hamilton, who stands at a what-would-be-towering-if-Zdeno-Chara-weren’t-on-the-team 6-foot-5, didn’t look noticeably bigger on the ice or in person Wednesday, but then again he didn’t have a whole lot of time to bulk up. He wouldn’t reveal how much weight he’s put on (“It’s a secret,” he said with a grin) but he did say the biggest thing he took away from the offseason was getting more comfortable in a frame he hasn’t had for too long.

Remember, Hamilton was still growing as the Bruins were scouting him leading up the 2011 draft, so he spent a good chunk of his workouts focusing on agility and trying to become more coordinated. After all, size is only good if it’s used well.

“[I'm] the most coordinated I’ve been since my growth,” he said. “I can kind of see a change in that. I’ve become a lot more coordinated and gotten a lot quicker in my speed and stuff.

“I still think I need to fill out. I’m not at that point yet, but I started to a little bit. It’s been tough the last couple years with growing so much, especially a couple years ago. Now, just doing sprints and stuff, you can kind of feel like your body’s there and not kind of around you.”

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Dennis Seidenberg a game-time decision for Game 5 05.25.13 at 4:32 pm ET
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Bruins coach Claude Julien said Saturday afternoon that Dennis Seidenberg will dress for warmups prior to Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Rangers. The team will decide after the warmup whether Seidenberg will then play in the game.

Seidenberg has not played since Game 7 of the first round against the Maple Leafs, as he suffered a lower-body injury on his first shift and skated only one more shift in the contest.

If Seidenberg is to play, Dougie Hamilton would be the most likely player to come out of the lineup.

For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.

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Andy Brickley on M&M: ‘I had my problems with the officiating’ in Game 4 05.24.13 at 12:21 pm ET
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Andy Brickley

NESN Bruins analyst Andy Brickley, in an interview with Mut & Merloni on Friday, talked about the B’s letdown that cost them Game 4 against the Rangers.

Of the Bruins’ many mistakes Thursday night, Brickley said Tuukka Rask‘s slip-up that allowed New York’s first goal was the biggest.

“The absolute critical moment in the game was the goal that Rask let in, the first goal of the game for the Rangers,” Brickley said. “Think about the situation: This is a knockout game, you have nothing going in terms of any kind of offensive attack — I think they had somewhere between seven, eight or nine shots on goal; maybe two quality scoring chances — down 2-0, the building’s dead, there’s no signs of believability from the New York Rangers. Then [Carl] Hagelin‘s little backhander eludes Tuukka Rask in a stumble. That was the absolute most critical point in the hockey game because all of a sudden the Rangers started to believe that they had a chance.”

Brickley also took issue with the officiating Thursday.

Said Brickley: “You knew you were in trouble when [Roman] Hamrlik gets the first penalty — that’s black and white, no-brainer, over the glass, delay of game. Then the next penalty comes to [Matt] Bartkowski. He gets locked up with [Ryan] Callahan. Callahan punches him in the head when they’re in separation. Bartkowski gives him a love tap to say, Hey, I’m aware of what just happened, and he’s the only one that gets the minor penalty. I said, Oh, this is going to be a tough night for me to analyze these officials and say that this is going to be OK. And you can even throw the [Jaromir] Jagr penalty in there — how late did that arm go up after the crowd reaction when he was trying to protect the puck in the neutral zone.

“I had my problems with the officiating. Can it be better? Absolutely. But it is what it is, and you’ve got to play through it.”

Another questionable decision came when Rangers forward Derick Brassard threw down his stick and gloves in hopes of fighting Brad Marchand, only to see Marchand skate away.

“I thought Brassard deserved a penalty in that situation,” Brickley said. “Marchand doing his job, getting under his skin. But I’ve seen it both ways. These are judgment calls.”

Dougie Hamilton was beaten on the game-winning goal by Chris Kreider. Brickley said how the 19-year-old defenseman responds will tell us a lot about his future.

“There was some good from Dougie last night and some not so good,” Brickley said. “On that game-winning goal, he’s not out of position. It’s a two-on-two and he’s fronting Kreider. He tries to get his stick right around the top of the circle knowing — and you heard the sound bite, he said, ‘I knew exactly where he was going and what he was going to do.’ But he didn’t get his stick. And when he tried a second time to get it, it was too late and he allowed Kreider to get that inside position. It was a well-executed play, but the microscope is on him because it’s the game-winner.”

Added Brickley: “These are good lessons for a young player. You have to have the heartache and the disappointment in order to reach the levels that you expect to reach as a professional athlete. These are the growing pains that are good to experience. It’s how you bounce back that determines your character.”

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Barry Pederson on D&C: ‘The Bruins are going to need a lot more intensity from their leaders’ at 10:20 am ET
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Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk levels Rangers forward Derek Dorsett during Thursday night's Game 4. (AP)

NESN Bruins analyst Barry Pederson joined Dennis & Callahan on Friday to examine the B’s mistake-prone effort that cost them Game 4 vs. the Rangers.

Tuukka Rask had the most glaring error when he fell and let the Rangers break through with a cheap goal that cut the B’s lead to 2-1 in the second period.

“It’s one thing to give up a goal and kind of keep momentum. But the way that goal went in, with Tuukka falling flat on his butt and the puck going in, in one of the softer goals we’ve seen, that kind of started to change momentum,” Pederson said. “And then once [Zdeno] Chara gave up the other one it was as if kind of the floodgates opened up a little bit.

“But the Rangers still didn’t show me a lot last night. … It’s up to the Bruins. The Bruins are going to need a lot more intensity from their leaders. It wasn’t only Tuukka that I thought lost his concentration — because of probably lack of action — but also I didn’t think Chara, [Milan] Lucic and [David] Krejci, the three leaders that they’ve had so far this playoffs, I didn’t think they were nearly as intense as they had been. And that’s what makes it hard to win four games in a row. It’s not only the team that you’re playing is usually a little bit more desperate and playing with pride. It’s also the fact that you kind of let up a little bit.”

Added Pederson: “The Bruins just weren’t as intense and as focused as they need to be as a team. … You had the opportunity, you just let it slip through your fingers.”

Pederson said he was surprised at the effort — or lack thereof — from the Rangers.

“I didn’t see much at all from the Rangers last night that tells me, Oh, boy, this offensive juggernaut now all of a sudden is going to click; here they go. I thought it was a situation where the Bruins totally dominated the first part of that hockey game. I was shocked again at the end of the first period at how bad the New York Rangers looked. And then once the Bruins took that 2-0 lead I kind of felt like it was over and that the Bruins had complete control of this because the Rangers hadn’t showed us anything up to that point.

“So, the Bruins have to come home and be ready Saturday night right from the open, give the Rangers a reason to not show up. They have to bring that intensity level that they showed earlier on. I’m kind of counting on that, I think.”

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Leafs force Game 7 with dramatic win over Bruins 05.12.13 at 10:37 pm ET
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Tuukka Rask delivered another strong performance, but his Bruins teammates couldn't generate enough offense at the other end in Boston's Game 6 loss. (AP)

TORONTO — It isn’t about eliminating the Leafs any more than it is staying alive now for the Bruins, as Toronto handed them a 2-1 loss in Game 6 Sunday to force a winner-take-all Game 7.

The Bruins, who had a 3-1 series lead, could not get to James Reimer again, as the Toronto goalie allowed just one goal for the second straight game, with the one Boston goal not coming until the final 30 seconds of the game on a Milan Lucic tally.

After the teams skated to a scoreless first two periods, Maple Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf tipped a Nazem Kadri shot past Tuukka Rask at 1:48 of the third period to give the Leafs the lead. Phil Kessel later beat Tyler Seguin to a rebound to extend the lead to two goals, which was too much for the Bruins to overcome given the performance of Reimer.

Game 7 will be played Monday at TD Garden, with the winner facing the victor of the Capitals-Rangers series, which also is tied at three games apiece.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

• Any hockey fan had to smirk at the sound of the “Thank You, Seguin” chants that rang throughout Air Canada Centre following the Kessel goal. With another night without a point, Seguin has now put up a goose egg through the first six games of the playoffs while Kessel has three goals and one assist for four points. Seguin needs to rise to the occasion.

David Krejci had a rough go of it on the shift on which Phaneuf scored. A botched drop-pass in the Toronto zone left the B’s behind as the Leafs took the puck the other way. Furthermore, Krejci was gliding back into the zone and let Kadri get the shot off. Had he been hustling, Krejci likely could have broken up the play by knocking the puck away.

• The Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Tyler Seguin line had no shots on goal in the first period, with Seguin missing the net on a 3-on-2. Bergeron had a shot on goal late in the first, but it came on the power play and not with his line. Marchand played just 3:49 in the first and registered his first shot on goal in two games late in the second period.

The line came to life early in the second period and had a number of scoring chances, including on one shift in which Bergeron followed a Seguin bid by trying for a wraparound and being stopped by Reimer. On that same shift, a Bergeron slap shot yielded a rebound with lots of open net, but Marchand was battling in front and didn’t see it.

• With Andrew Ference out, Claude Julien inserted Dougie Hamilton into the lineup and broke up the Zdeno Chara-Dennis Seidenberg pairing in order to have a lefty and righty on each pairing. There was a lot of mixing and matching done on the blue line for the B’s, but Hamilton was used less as the game went on. After playing 4:49 on six shifts in the first period, Hamilton was given only three shifts for 1:31 in the second.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

• For the third straight game, Rask showed up big. Rask made a glove save on a Phaneuf slap shot in the final seconds of the second period to keep it scoreless after shining late in Game 4 and through Game 5. Yes, the Bruins gave up a big series lead against the Leafs, but don’t think this is 2010 all over again for Rask. He’s been one of the B’s most consistent players. The same can’t be said for a lot of guys on this team right now.

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Bruins enter amped atmosphere as Toronto gets playoff hockey back 05.05.13 at 7:49 pm ET
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The Maple Leafs should be feeling more confident with the series tied and Game 3 in Toronto. (AP)

TORONTO — These Bruins have dealt with a wider variety of atmospheres than any other team. They’ve played playoff games in Montreal, where the Bell Centre has been pretty close to deafening. They’ve played in front of an overly passionate Vancouver crowd with the Stanley Cup on the line. Most notably, they’ve played at TD Garden two days after a terrorist attack on their own city.

Obviously, the first two don’t compare to the third for pretty much every reason you could think of, but the B’s have seen more than their fair share of buzzing barns. They’ll probably be able to add Monday’s scene to the list, as Toronto will host its first playoff game since 2004. With the series tied at a game apiece, the crowd on Monday night will have plenty to be excited about.

The Air Canada Centre opened its doors in 1999, and the Maple Leafs made the playoffs in each of the arena’s first six seasons. Dougie Hamilton was just a kid (or, to put it correctly, a younger kid than he is now).

“I think I remember going to playoff games as a kid and I know the fans are pretty good in Toronto,” Hamilton said. “I’m sure it’ll be a really good atmosphere.”

The Air Canada Centre hasn’t hosted a postseason game since that six-season run, and you can bet that a city that eats, sleeps and breathes hockey (and produces NHL stars aplenty — Hamilton, Tyler Seguin and Nathan Horton are among the big-name Bruins who hail from the area) will be more than up for the game.

More importantly, you can count on the Leafs being up for it. After looking like a team that didn’t know it was in the playoffs in Game 1, the Leafs boasted a more balanced attack (thanks to both altered lines and the Bruins playing a messy defensive game) and, with the exception of a ton of rebounds from James Reimer, looked far more confident in Game 2. Considering they won the game and got big production from its stars in Joffrey Lupul (two goals), Phil Kessel (his first even-strength goal against his former club) and James van Riemsdyk (his second goal in as many games as he continues to establish himself as a big-time playoff performer against the Bruins), they should be feeling good.

“We’ve got the best fans in the National Hockey League, so I’m sure they’ll be excited to cheer loud,” Dion Phaneuf said. “We’re happy with the way that we played [in Game 2], but we’ve got lots of work to do yet.”

So with a buzzing barn and a team coming off a big win to even the series, what can get in the way of Toronto taking a series lead or at least splitting the games at ACC? Two things: The obvious one is a better game from the Bruins, and the other is the play of Reimer. Read the rest of this entry »

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Dougie Hamilton, Rich Peverley in for Bruins in Game 2 05.04.13 at 6:47 pm ET
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Dougie Hamilton

Dougie Hamilton and Rich Peverley are both in Boston’s lineup for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the Maple Leafs Saturday night at TD Garden. Hamilton beat out Aaron Johnson to play in place of the suspended Andrew Ference, while Peverley is in over Kaspars Daugavins.

The lines and defensive pairings in the pre-game warmup were as follows:

Lucic – Krejci – Horton
Marchand – Bergeron – Seguin
Peverley – Kelly – Jagr
Paille – Campbell – Thornton

Chara-McQuaid
Seidenberg-Boychuk
Redden-Hamilton

For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.

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