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Hamill assists victory

Call-up fills in for Campbell

By Jake Seiner
Globe Correspondent / December 14, 2011
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With Gregory Campbell out for last night’s game against the Kings with a foot injury, coach Claude Julien needed a centerman.

The front office suggested Zach Hamill, a 23-year-old natural center who’d put up a 7-7-14 line in 25 games as a winger with Providence this season. After last night’s 3-0 win over the Kings, Julien had plenty of praise for the former first-round pick and the folks who recommended his emergency recall.

“Management are the ones who see him more in Providence than I do,’’ Julien said. “We needed a centerman, and from what I was told, he was the best candidate to come in and fill the hole. They obviously made the right choice.’’

Hamill stepped into Campbell’s vacant spot on the fourth line, and wasted little time proving he belonged.

Rich Peverley, Benoit Pouliot, and Hamill teamed up to give the Bruins a first-period lead, dizzying defenders in an effort that left Hamill with a passing lane to goaltender Jonathan Quick’s right.

Hamill held as Peverley circled toward the goal before sliding a pass across the slot, hitting Peverley in stride.

“It was right on my tape,’’ Peverley said. “Great pass by [Hamill]. I just tried to go back door, the guy kind of had me and I just tried to beat him to the net, and like I said, [Hamill] threaded the needle there.’’

“That was a play that NHL players make,’’ Julien said. “Right on the tape and an easy tap-in for [Peverley].’’

It was Hamill’s second helper in three games this year. The first came in his season debut, Nov. 10 against Edmonton. That primary assist came on a similar pass that threaded three Oilers below the dots, landing right on Jordan Caron’s waiting stick.

“He’s done that a few times for us,’’ Julien said. “When we say he’s a first-round pick, he’s a pretty skilled player. He showed that right off the bat.’’

Hamill was drafted eighth overall in the 2007 draft as a center, and has played as a pivot for most of his career. This year, though, he has taken his reps at wing for Providence.

Hamill moved back to center last night, both so Julien could keep some continuity with his other lines, and also because of confidence Hamill had provided the coach as a pivot in previous appearances.

“He’s been really reliable in his own end,’’ Julien said after yesterday’s morning skate. “All I can say is when we had him up here, the games he played for us, I really liked what he brought to the table.’’

Hamill had another strong defensive outing, finishing with two takeaways, two blocked shots, and no turnovers in 9:48 of ice time.

The performance once again forced the Bruins decision-makers to take note of Hamill, who has spent most of his four-plus seasons in the AHL.

“Going down’s always tough,’’ Hamill said. “When you come up here, you want to be ready and make the most of your opportunities.’’

“When he came up [after playing wing] this year, it certainly didn’t take away from his playmaking abilities,’’ Julien said. “He’s been playing wing this year because we feel he has a better chance of cracking the lineup down the road playing at wing. We’re pretty deep at center, and that’s something he’s adjusted well to.’’

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