The 20-year-old Hamilton, in his second NHL season, has still only played 76 career games, but is quickly becoming a "veteran" on the Bruins' less experienced back end since the loss of Dennis Seidenberg, and amidst injury woes for Adam McQuaid.
On Saturday in Philadelphia, Hamilton returned to the Bruins' lineup after missing four games while recovering from his first concussion. Boston skated to a 6-1 rout of the Flyers.
The defenseman logged 18:55 in ice time, spending 2:25 of that on the power play, getting three shots through and blocking two shots. He ended the game with a +1 rating.
But it's not Hamilton's stat line that matters.
"Well, there's a guy that has been with us now for a year, and he does have some experience," said Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien, of the options Hamilton's return gives the blueline.
"He's really calm with the puck and makes good plays, moves the puck extremely well so it was good."
PHILADELPHIA - In the visiting team locker room at the Wells Fargo Center, following the Bruins' 6-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday afternoon, Head Coach Claude Julien finished up speaking with reporters.
Tuukka Rask, clad in his suit, was patiently waiting in front of the stalls on the other side of the room.
Once Julien's media availability ended, the bench boss laughed. "The more important guy's over there, guys," he gestured over to his netminder with a smile.
Rask had pulled off a 25-save performance in the win, and seemingly effortless games like this for the goalie often mean a strong effort in front of him.
And that's exactly what produced a smiling Julien postgame: a team effort that ended with the Black & Gold's second six-goal game of the season.
"Yeah, it was great," Rask told the gathered reporters who had shifted to him. "Really kept it going the whole 60 minutes. I think the first period was the most even, both teams had chances, and we ended up scoring. And the good thing is, that we never let our guard down, we just kept pushing and getting more goals."
The news came from Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien on Friday, January 24, following the team's practice at Ristuccia Arena.
The Bruins next head to Philadelphia to begin a two-game road trip, first facing off against the Flyers on Saturday afternoon, before traveling to New York to face the Islanders on Monday. Hamilton and Kelly are both making the trip.
Hamilton has missed four games out of the lineup recovering from a concussion, while Kelly has been sidelined for the past 20 games while rehabbing a broken right fibula (calf bone) he sustained back on December 7.
Now, it's a matter of the players being in game-shape, before jumping back into the lineup. For Kelly, that process could be a bit longer than for Hamilton, given the greater amount of time sidelined.
WILMINGTON, MA - The Bruins were back to work on Thursday morning at Ristuccia Arena, after two days off amidst a rare four days hiatus from game action.
There were also welcome additions to practice.
Chris Kelly, who has been skating for a few weeks now, joined the Bruins at practice for the first time since suffering a broken right fibula back on December 7 against Pittsburgh. He skated in the third line gray jersey, along with Carl Soderberg, Loui Eriksson and Ryan Spooner.
"He's going to make the trip," said Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien following the skate. The Bruins head to Philadelphia on Friday, in advance of their two-game road trip against the Flyers on Saturday and the New York Islanders on Monday.
"I don't know when he's going to be back. Hopefully, within the week," said Julien, of any timetable on his return. "He's been cleared to practice. Today wasn't full contact for him but I think he's going to progress hopefully quickly and we'll see where he is by that time."
As for where Kelly would slot back into the lineup, Julien stayed along the mantra of crossing that bridge when he comes to it.
"He's going to make the road trip with us. When is he going to play? When I'm told that he's been cleared, and then when that comes, we'll make that decision," he said.
WATERTOWN, MA - A hockey player's senses are always tested.
Here's how it goes: close your eyes. Now imagine playing goalie, with no sight.
On Wednesday, January 22, with the Bruins amidst four days off from game action, the two Bruins visited Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, MA, and played "goal ball" with the students.
Perkins School, established more than 180 years ago, was the first school for the blind in the United States.
"Goal Ball" is geared towards blind and vision-impaired athletes, and consists of rolling a ball with bells inside that allows the players to use the sound to determine where it is. The objective is to roll the ball into the opposing goal. Stopping the ball usually involves sliding on your side once you judge it's just close enough.
Iginla and Smith wore dark goggles that made them a part of the group, relying on every sense, without being able to see.
"Good luck, you're going to need it!" was the message to the duo before heading out onto the gym floor.
BostonBruins.com - The Bruins announced on Tuesday, January 21, that the club had signed defenseman Kevan Miller to a two-year, one-way contract through the 2015-16 season.
Miller was first signed by the Bruins to a two-year, entry-level contract on October 21, 2011, after his four-year career at the University of Vermont. He was re-signed as a restricted free agent to a one-year deal on July 19, 2013.
The 6-foot-2, 200-pound defensive defenseman has impressed through his first 16 NHL games with Boston during the 2013-14 season, after making his debut on November 21, 2013 against the St. Louis Blues.
His first NHL goal came four games later, in Toronto on December 8, and proved to be the game-winner.
"He’s a defensive defenseman who makes good strong plays," Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien, after Miller's debut came with Dennis Seidenberg and Adam McQuaid sidelined by injuries. "He was strong, I really liked his game. I thought he was a poised player out there for his first real NHL game."
"This is my third year and you just have to believe in the process - a lot of guys have been in the same situation, so it’s a great feeling," Miller had said.
BOSTON, MA - After being evaluated by team doctors on Monday, Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid was deemed "day-to-day" with a leg injury.
McQuaid missed the second half of Sunday's game in Chicago, and was not able to play on Monday in the Bruins' eventual 3-2 win over the LA Kings.
"The doctors have assessed him as day-to-day. That’s good news," said an optimistic Claude Julien.
Prior to McQuaid being evaluated, Julien was unsure yet if this leg injury was related to the blueliner's other injuries this season. McQuaid has missed two stretches of eight and nine games so far this season due to a lower-body injury.
With the defenseman not able to play, Zach Trotman slotted into the lineup for the second NHL game, after being recalled from the Providence Bruins on Sunday night.
"I thought he handled himself really well. We’ve been picking away at D’s right now and we’re short on the right side so, after seeing him play in Ottawa, he was a logical choice," said Julien.
BostonBruins.com - It's called a streak for a reason. It's a flash, a flame, and it keeps burning until it runs out.
Right now, Brad Marchand's flame is red-hot.
| Watch: Marchand's Goes 2-for-2
Watch: Bruins Beat - Bruins Top Kings 3-2
View: Final Boxscore
The speedy, crafty winger had twice scored goals in three consecutive games. But even for a streaky player like Marchand, he hadn't yet reached this level.
"I do, I get real lucky," he said, following the win over LA, when asked if he could give some credit to luck.
With just under eight minutes left in the first period, and the Bruins tasked with killing their first penalty of the game, Patrice Bergeron sprung Marchand with a pass up through center ice.
With speed, the winger caused Drew Doughty to reach in on the backpedal and end up losing his stick. Marchand couldn't get the shot off he wanted to, but that didn't matter.
CHICAGO, IL - Adam McQuaid did not return to Sunday's game in Chicago after the second period. The was no further update yet on his condition following the game.
The Bruins were defeated by the Blackhawks, 3-2, in the shootout.
"I don't like saying it the night of, because he needs to be looked at by a doctor, we'll look at him tomorrow [Monday]," said Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien. "Just obviously not good enough to finish the game, but we'll evaluate him and at least give you a precise diagnosis on him."
McQuaid's last shift ended at 8:34 into the second, during which he recorded a shot on goal. The defenseman finished the game with 8:57 in ice-time and a plus-1 rating, after assisting on Brad Marchand's goal that made it a 1-1 game with 19 seconds left in the first period.
It's not the first time this season the Bruins have had to play down a defenseman. It usually means heavy minutes logger Zdeno Chara racks up the ice time. He played nearly half the game, logging 28:08, with Johnny Boychuk at 26:03.
CHICAGO, IL - The Bruins don't want to revisit the Stanley Cup Final.
The mantra is to constantly move on, push forward, and forget the past.
"We put that behind us," says Bruins Captain Zdeno Chara, and he means it. "It's a new season and we're going to focus on this season."
No one moves game to game quite like Big Zee; his mindset is always a testament to the cliche, but accurate "even-keeled" demeanor that he portrays. When he says that, it's not a facade. He's moved on.
"It's a really good team we're playing," he says of the Chicago Blackhawks, the second ranked team in the NHL. "We've just got to be ready. They're probably one of the best teams in the league, so it's going to be a challenge."
Still, coming back to Chicago and facing the Hawks for the first time since last June, the discussion and resurgence of emotions are almost inevitable.
And the consensus? Yes, the Black & Gold have moved on. But, yes, yes, it still hurts.
"It’s something that’s hard, still right now it hurts just to see the 2013 on the wall right there, you know?" said Patrice Bergeron, of the year designated on a Stanley Cup decal plastered to the wall of the Hawks' practice facility, Johnny's Ice House. The Bruins practiced there Saturday afternoon before their showdown with the Blackhawks.
For Bergeron, the Final hurt in several other infamous ways besides the end result.