Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Hamill at home in the middle
By James Murphy
BOSTON -- With Gregory Campbell out of the lineup with a foot fracture and Daniel Paille returning after missing a game with a mild concussion, Bruins coach Claude Julien decided that Zach Hamill, who was called up on an emergency basis Monday, would be the better fit between Paille and Shawn Thornton on Tuesday night against the Kings as opposed to Jordan Caron, who played in Paille’s place Saturday night.
Hamill is a natural center who has played wing this season. Julien liked what he saw from the 2007 first-round pick the last time he was up with the Bruins, so he gave Hamill another shot but this time at center. Hamill delivered, playing a solid two-way game and showing his natural playmaking skills, one a beautiful feed to Rich Peverley for the first goal in the Bruins' 3-0 win over the Kings Tuesday night.
“When we say he’s a first-round pick, he’s a pretty skilled player and he showed that right of the bat,” Julien said of Hamill. “That was a play that NHL players make. He had a good heads-up and right on the tape, an easy tap-in for [Peverley]. He’s done that a few times for us. He’s been a good player. I was happy with him the first time he came up and certainly happy with him tonight. He’s had to play a position where he’s played most of his career, but not this year. I thought he adjusted well. He was really good in our own end as far as supporting and battling. I was really pleased with his game.”
Asked if he thinks Hamill hasn’t been able to crack the Bruins lineup because of the team’s depth at center, Julien acknowledged that is a reason he was switched to wing this season. But Julien was happy Hamill was able to return to his natural position seamlessly Tuesday.
“I think it’s not just a decision from my end, I think management are the ones that see it more in Providence than I do,” Julien said. “But we’ve been playing [him at] wing this year because we feel he’s got a better chance of cracking our lineup down the road playing on the wing. That’s something that he’s adjusted well [to], and when he came up as a winger this year it certainly didn’t take away from his playmaking ability.
"We needed a centerman and from what I was told he was the best candidate to come in here and help us out. They obviously made the right choice because he certainly made a great pass on that goal and it’s something we haven’t done in a long time -- score the first goal. He allowed us to play with the lead tonight.”