Bourque leading a P-Bruins offense that's coming around


Bourque leading a P-Bruins offense that's coming around

PROVIDENCE, RI The expectations were pretty sky high for Chris Bourque before hed played even a single game in a Providence Bruins sweater.

Bourque had lead the entire AHL with 93 points last season in 73 games for the Hershey Bears, and his 27 goals scored was exactly the kind of scoring punch that was needed for a Providence team thats locked scoring punch in recent years.

While Bourque hasnt been able to maintain his point-per-game pace in Providence this season, the 26-year-old still has 18 (2 goals, 16 assists) points in 22 games for the Bruins. Bourque also put up a pair of assists including a helper on Kyle MacKinnons game-winning overtime goal -- in Sundays 3-2 win over the Adirondack Phantoms thats pushed the P-Bruins just a single point behind the Worcester Sharks for the Atlantic Division lead.

Bourque set the play in motion in overtime by getting the puck to defenseman Matt Bartkowski behind the net, and the Bs blueliner provided the feed for MacKinnon to rifle into the back of the net.

Its taken a little more time than Bourque originally thought, but the P-Bruins are looking like the solid, offensively improved bunch people expected when he arrived on the scene.

We played good and it was a solid weekend. We struggled a little bit at the beginning in five-on-five play and that goes along with getting used to some new players, said Bourque. You get used to playing with each other and building that good chemistry. Now were doing a lot of scoring five-on-five and we just need to make sure our power play is clicking.

Part of the transition period has been Bourques teammates getting used to his ability to create offensively and take risks that are sometimes missing from the Bs defense-heavy system. Theres also the simple fact Providence doesnt have a goal-scoring forward like Ryan Potulny, who snapped off 33 goals skating with Bourque in Hershey last season.

Thats turned Bourque into less of a goal-scoring option, and more of an offensive distributor creating plays for others on the ice.

Case in point: it was Bourque carrying the puck through the high slot area on the power play that opened things up for Providence, and it was passing eye that found Ryan Spooner for the one-timer from the right circle. It eventually led to Jamie Tardifs rebound goal and a secondary assist for Bourque, but it was his playmaking ability and vision that started off the whole play.

Every night he makes a couple of high end plays," P-Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. "Sometimes the rest of the guys arent ready for them, but Spooner was for the one-timer on the power play goal. He threw a cross-ice pass on Friday that Tommy Cross wasnt quite ready for, and he kind of half-hit it off the crossbar on a tap-in.

He does some high-end things that our guys are getting used to. Hell take some high-risk plays, but they work out a lot more than they dont when its him making them. Hes competitive, he cares, he battles and he wants to be out there all the time. Id like to see his goal total being a little higher, but thats a part of the issue with our team right now. We dont have a lot of guys that are making those plays to set him up. Hes making them for other people.

Helping to right the ship has been a good challenge for Bourque, and its allowed him to keep his mind off the NHL lockout thats now raged on for more than 80 days. The son of Hall of Famer Ray Bourque went into this season hoping for a crack at the NHL roster in Boston, and he still hopes that chance materializes should they start a 2012-13 regular season.

We hear about the lockout obviously. You check Twitter and guys are keeping you informed, said Bourque. But we dont have much contact with anyone, so its really what the average fan knows. We cant solve it, so we just need to keep it in the back of our minds and just keep playing hard.

I was definitely hoping it wouldnt last this long just for the hockey fan inside of me. I definitely like watching NHL games just like everybody else. Getting a chance to play for the Bruins was something I was looking forward to. But you just need to keep focusing on Providence and winning games. Hopefully we can keep it going like we have been for the last little while.

But for now Bourque is serving as a bright scoring light, leader and main attraction for a Providence Bruins thats 5-0-1 in their last six games -- and turning in their best AHL season in at least three years.

For now, thats more than enough him.

Two more Pastrnak goals pull him into tie for NHL lead with Crosby

Two more Pastrnak goals pull him into tie for NHL lead with Crosby

BOSTON – While the loss to the Avalanche on Thursday night was a monumental dud, it put another dazzling display on the hockey resume of David Pastrnak. 

The 20-year-old star right winger scored two more goals in the 4-2 loss at TD Garden and nearly brought the Bruins back into the game by himself before another defensive breakdown at the end of the second period doomed them. 

Instead, Pastrnak had to settle with being the proud owner of 18 goals scored in 23 games that places him in a tie with NHL superstar Sidney Crosby for the NHL lead in goals. 

The goals also showed his wide range of lethal offensive skills. On the first score, he just broke away from the Avalanche defense and managed to bury a second-effort breakaway chance after a nice Tim Schaller stretch pass off the boards. The second goal was a straight one-timer bomb from the high slot off a slick setup pass from Brad Marchand in the corner, and it had the Bruins right back into the mix after a dreadful first period. 

It wasn’t enough when the B’s defense faltered again toward the end of the second period, but it was enough for everybody to be singing Pastrnak’s praises once again following the loss. 

“He’s a game changer. The momentum is going the other way, and he has the ability to break away on any given shift and score a big goal for us. He did that tonight,” said Torey Krug. “We can’t just keep relying on the same guys to score goals. We’ve got to come up with secondary offense, and I know every other guy wants to do that. 

“Now it’s about showing that on the ice and making sure we’re doing the work and getting better and proving to ourselves. But Pasta [David Pastrnak] has been great for us so far, and we’re obviously lucky to have him.”

The 18 goals barely two months into the season are not too shabby for a kid, in his third NHL season, who just now coming into his own. He’s nearly halfway to 40 before Christmas. For Pastrnak, however, it’s about the team result and he wasn’t overly satisfied with his two goals in a losing effort. 

“I’ve said before the season that our goal is to make the playoffs and to have that experience and have the chance to win the Stanley Cup. I’m still focusing on that,” said Pastrnak, who has yet to experience the Stanley Cup playoffs in his two-plus seasons with the Black and Gold. “We have zero points from tonight’s game and we have to move on. I think our game gets better in the second and third periods, you know, and we have to regroup and get ready for Saturday’s game.”

The Bruins will undoubtedly regroup and once again count on another Pastrnak offensive explosion to help lead the way in what’s become a truly spectacular season for the youngster. 

Report: Bobby Valentine could be Trump’s US ambassador to Japan

Report: Bobby Valentine could be Trump’s US ambassador to Japan

Major league manager. Inventor of the wrap sandwich. Champion ballroom dancer.  And…

US ambassador to Japan?

Bobby Valentine is on the short list for that position in President Donald Trump’s administration, according to a report.

The former Red Sox manager (fired after a 69-93 season and last-place finish in 2012), and ex-New York Mets and Texas Rangers, skipper, also managed the Chiba Lotte Marines in Japan’s Pacific League for six seasons. 

Valentine, 66, has known the President-elect and Trump's brother Bob since the 1980s, is close to others on Trump’s transition team and has had preliminary discussions about the ambassador position, according to’s Rob Bradford. 

Valentine, currently the athletic director of Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Conn., is also friendly with current Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who, like Valentine, attended the University of Southern California.