Friday, February 1, 2013
Bruins-Leafs brings Dougie Hamilton home
By Joe McDonald
Phil Kessel's Leafs haven't enjoyed much success against Tyler Seguin's Bruins.
WILMINGTON, Mass. -- The Air Canada Centre should be exhilarating Saturday night when the Toronto Maple Leafs host the Boston Bruins in a Northeast Division matchup.
Of course, a lot of attention will be on Bruins rookie defenseman Dougie Hamilton, who will be playing in front of his hometown team. In fact, all three players involved in the now-infamous 2009 trade between the Bruins and Maple Leafs will be on display with Hamilton, Bruins forward Tyler Seguin and Maple Leafs forward Phil Kessel.
The Maple Leafs acquired Kessel from Boston on Sept. 18, 2009, in exchange for Toronto's first- and second-round picks in the 2010 NHL draft, which turned into Seguin and Jared Knight, respectively. Not only that, the Bruins also received the Leafs' first-round pick in 2011, which ended up being Hamilton.
On Saturday, Hamilton will be on the ice along with Seguin and Kessel at Air Canada Centre.
"It's exciting," Hamilton said. "I grew up watching games in that rink and dreamt of playing there in the NHL. I guess I always dreamt of playing for the Leafs, but as I've gotten older, it will be cooler to be on the other side."
To say the Bruins have dominated the Maple Leafs in recent history would be a huge understatement.
Already playing big minutes on the Bruins' blue line, Dougie Hamilton, 19, gets to strut his stuff in hometown Toronto.
Boston swept the Leafs during the 2011-12 season and outscored them 36-10 in six games. The Bruins also have a 23-5-5 record in their past 33 games against the Maple Leafs. Boston is 12-2-3 in its past 17 games at Toronto.
This season, Toronto coach Randy Carlyle and the Maple Leafs are 4-3-0 for eight points. They're playing better hockey.
"With Randy there, they're certainly a team that's competing very hard and he's going to get the most out of his players -- he always has," said Bruins coach Claude Julien.
The Leafs already have wins over Montreal, Pittsburgh, Buffalo and Washington. The Bruins have a chance to end a tough stretch of four games in six nights on a positive note with a win in Toronto on Saturday night.
"Every game for us has got to be viewed as almost a must-win and tough games," Julien said. "You can't take anybody for granted. [Thursday's loss] was a perfect example, we didn't take [Buffalo] for granted, it just means anybody can win on any given night.
"So we have to make sure we go in there with the right intentions, and doing that, and then coming out with a win gives us a 3-1 record this week with four games in six days. That would be a pretty good accomplishment. If not, we finish .500, which for us is not good enough."
The Maple Leafs do present a challenge for Boston. This season could be different, and the Bruins understand that.
"They're playing with a lot of confidence and they're beating some really good teams," said Bruins captain Zdeno Chara. "We've got to be ready for them. They're skating well and playing with a lot of energy. For sure, it's going to be a tough game."
Maple Leafs center Nazem Kadri leads the team in scoring with three goals and four assists for seven points. Kessel has four assists with a minus-2 rating.
"They've been playing well," said Bruins forward Gregory Campbell. "They've bought into their system and their coach has them playing really well. Good teams never want to lose two games in a row, so it's important for us in another divisional game, a game that's attainable if we work hard. It would make it a pretty good week for us with a pretty tough schedule, a tough week, but it's not going to be easy. I think we're up for the challenge."