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Bruins rookie D Hamilton biding time as rookie

Tuesday - 6/18/2013, 7:58pm  ET

Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron celebrates his goal against the Chicago Blackhawks during the second period in Game 3 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Finals in Boston, Monday, June 17, 2013. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

HOWARD ULMAN
AP Sports Writer

BOSTON (AP) -- Dougie Hamilton spent his 20th birthday watching the Stanley Cup finals.

He'd rather be playing in them.

The Bruins rookie defensemen was in street clothes when Boston defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 2-0 on Monday night to take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. It also was the first day of his post-teenage years.

After a regular season in which he played 42 of the 48 games, and then seven of the first 11 playoff games, Hamilton hasn't suited up for any of the last eight, including the four-game sweep of Pittsburgh in the Eastern Conference finals and the three games against Chicago.

So what has the 6-foot-5, 2011 first-round draft pick learned?

"I've learned that it's not fun not playing," Hamilton said Tuesday. "It's been kind of tough in ways, but, at the same time, you're just trying to have fun and enjoy it. I think it's a pretty exciting opportunity to start the year in junior hockey and you're two (wins) away from the Stanley Cup."

He still figures in Boston's plans for the future despite his current idleness.

"I now know what it's like to go this far in the Stanley Cup finals and see what it's like and the schedule and how guys play and things like that. So I think it'll only help me," he said. "When I was younger, I don't know if I would have thought I'd be in the NHL at 19 and you look at what I would be doing instead. You just have to remember how lucky you are."

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FACEOFF DOMINATION: One of the most lopsided stats in the Stanley Cup finals so far has been Boston's domination of faceoffs, including Patrice Bergeron's 24-4 edge in the Bruins' 2-0 victory in Game 3.

In all, Boston has won 57 percent of the faceoffs while opening a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven NHL championship series.

"When we're winning draws the way we are right now, it's big for a team," Bruins forward Brad Marchand said. "You're with the puck a lot more. It's always nice to start with it, than chasing it. We create a lot of opportunities from that. We really have to give our centermen a lot of credit. They're doing a great job."

Bergeron led the NHL with a 62.1 percentage in winning faceoffs in the regular season. He has won more than 65 percent (63 of 96) of his faceoffs in the series.

"Twenty-four and four on the faceoffs yesterday, which is an incredible stat," Bruins forward Milan Lucic said. "That's a part of the game that he takes a lot of pride in and that we take a lot of pride in as a team. Every pregame skate, I know the guys are working on faceoffs and it's a lot easier starting with the puck than it is chasing it. I'm sure they talked about it and we need to stay sharp on our faceoffs."

Blackhawks forward Dave Bolland also noted the discrepancy and said Chicago would work on eliminating it. Playing in Boston, where Bergeron has the advantage of being allowed to put his stick down last, makes it even more difficult.

"We've got to be better," Bolland said. "We will be better."

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STANLEY CUP SUB: Blackhawks forward Ben Smith, who filled in when Marian Hossa was a late scratch in Game 4, has more experience at the TD Garden than many of his teammates.

Because of the lockout, the Western Conference champions did not visit Boston this year. But Smith, who won an NCAA title at Boston College in 2008, estimated that while in college he played about 15 games at the Garden, which is host to the Hockey East and Beanpot tournaments.

Hossa was scratched about an hour before Game 3, which the Bruins won 2-0 to take a 2-1 lead in the Stanley Cup finals. Smith said he was a little surprised when the coaches told him he would be in the game.

"You don't know what's going on, but you don't ask any questions," he said. "You get a chance, you go."

Smith, who played in one regular-season game for Chicago this season, said it took him a couple of shifts to get into the game before settling in. He also played seven games for the Blackhawks in the 2011 postseason.

"I've played in the playoffs before, obviously not in the finals but playing in the playoffs, drawing from that experience helped," he said. "You know, just keep having the confidence in what I can bring and hoping that I could help the team."

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