Dougie Hamilton, a.k.a. ‘the future’ of the Bruins, earns praise from Julien

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Sunday morning, a testy Claude Julien met with reporters prior to the Bruins’ home game with the Sabres. Among other things, Julien called defenseman Dougie Hamilton the “future of our team.”

Later on that day, Hamilton scored two goals, including the late tying marker, and added an assist in a 4-3 overtime win for the B’s.

Not surprisingly, this brought more encouraging words from the coach.

“Tonight, he was aggressive at the right time and he played a real solid game tonight,” said Julien, per Boston.com. “There’s times where he’s aggressive and the decisions aren’t the right one, so it’s learning as you go along here for a young player. He’s 21 years old. I think we’re getting a lot out of a 21 year-old defenseman right now. Even if he has bad games, he’s been pretty good overall.”

We’ve written extensively about Hamilton’s importance to the Bruins. Zdeno Chara is 37 years old now, the seventh-oldest defenseman in the NHL. On paper, Hamilton is the franchise’s next cornerstone blue-liner, which has certainly enjoyed its fair share of great blue-liners throughout the years.

But how great the 21-year-old can be, if he can be great at all, remains to be seen. Does he have the right mentality? From Tyler Myers to Luke Schenn to Michael Del Zotto, we’ve seen how fragile confidence can be for promising young defensemen.

At the very least, Hamilton is lucky to have a pretty good role model.

“It is hard to be facing every night the best lines,” Chara said in November. “A player has to be always willing to do whatever you need, and sacrifice maybe some of his personal agenda. Your No. 1 job is to shut down the top line, and if you can contribute offensively, then good. … But to do it for 70-80 games, facing the best players in the world, that is challenging; you have to be mentally ready to do that. Dougie hasn’t been that long with us, but he has shown the potential for having a great future with his improvement so far.”

Hamilton’s 20 points currently rank him in a tie for 15th among NHL d-men. In what’s been a frustrating season for the Bruins, he’s been a bright spot, to be sure.

Related: The Atlantic Division race is going to be fascinating

Hamilton, Eriksson hand Bruins ‘gut check’ OT win over Sabres

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After a mediocre start to the season, the Boston Bruins need every point they can get to avoid falling behind in the marathon battle for a playoff spot. They endured a back-and-forth contest against the Buffalo Sabres Sunday night, but in the end the Bruins earned an important 4-3 overtime victory.

Buffalo was close to winning 3-2 when Dougie Hamilton gave the Bruins another chance with his second goal of the night at 18:29 of the third period:

In overtime, Milan Lucic passed the puck to Loui Eriksson as he entered the Sabres’ zone. With Buffalo’s defense split, Eriksson charged at Sabres goaltender Jhonas Enroth before shoveling it into the back of the net.

“I think it was a gut check… and I credit the guys for battling,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said of the win, per the Bruins’ Twitter feed. He added, “Wins are tough to come by these days, so when you get ’em, you take ’em.”

At 17-14-3, Boston is just a point shy of Washington, which holds the second Wild Card spot. However, the Capitals have played in two less games. Meanwhile, Buffalo has now lost three straight contests as its stretch of 10 wins in 12 games slowly fades into the distance.

“We got stronger as the game went on,” Ted Nolan said, per the Sabres Twitter feed. “You couldn’t not be happy with the effort, only thing disappointed with is the outcome.”

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Julien chides Bruins’ offense for too many cute plays

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This just in: the Boston Bruins are really struggling to score this season.

OK, that’s obviously not breaking news, but Boston’s scoring attack continued to sputter on Friday as the Winnipeg Jets edged them 2-1. For head coach Claude Julien, it’s all about keeping things simple.

“We passed up so many shot opportunities and looked for the cute plays,” Julien said.

You can throw out plenty of stats to depict the sometimes-dire offense from Boston, yet CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty shared one detail that sums things up quite nicely.

Julien said it wasn’t about a shaky start, yet it’s pretty clear that Boston didn’t match Winnipeg early on:

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(Via Natural Stat Trick)

Ultimately, the Bruins won one game and lost in a shootout during its three-game road trip, generating three out of a possible six standings points. If anyone’s satisfied with that, they’d likely draw Julien’s scorn.

Yikes. The numbers get uglier if you stretch your view back to Nov. 22; the Bruins are 3-6-3 in their last 12 games.

One way or another, the Bruins need to shake out of this slump or Julien may be justified in worrying about April.

As holiday roster freeze approaches, Bruins linked to Oshie, Kassian

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Tonight at midnight is the start of the NHL’s holiday roster freeze, which goes until Dec. 27 and keeps teams from trading, loaning, or waiving players.

So if the Boston Bruins are going to add a top-six right winger to play with David Krejci and Milan Lucic, as many believe they will and should, they’ll have to do it today or wait until the freeze ends.

Chances are, they’ll wait. Which is good, because it will give us more time to speculate about who they’ll add.

Buffalo’s Chris Stewart is one name that’s been out there for a while, and Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman named a couple more yesterday on FAN 590 radio.

According to Friedman, “in the right situation, T.J. Oshie is available” out of St. Louis.

This isn’t the first time Oshie’s name has been mentioned by a prominent member of the hockey media. ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun, among others, has raised the possibility.

Oshie, 27, is signed through 2016-17 for a cap hit of $4.175 million, raising the question of how the B’s would fit him in under the cap.

Which brings us to Vancouver’s Zack Kassian. While Friedman admits this is “a bit more of a longer shot,” Kassian’s $1.75 million cap hit is significantly lower than Oshie’s.

And hey, the Bruins have had success getting young power forwards out of Vancouver in the past, right?

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Video: Who are the Bruins targeting in trade talks?

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Hockey insider Bob McKenzie discusses the trade rumors that are swirling in the NHL including the players that the Bruins are reportedly looking at. McKenzie notes that Boston has had interest in Sabres’ winger Chris Stewart.