Bourque feels like he belongs in NHL despite struggles

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Bourque feels like he belongs in NHL despite struggles

Theres no denying it when Chris Bourque says hes worked his balls off each of the 96 shifts hes skated with the Bruins this season.

The 26-year-old left wing is scoreless in his first six games in a Bruins uniform and has only scrapped together three shots on net while averaging close to 12 minutes per game including regular power play shifts. Bourque has skated with competent offensive linemates in Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley even if Kelly has struggled a bit out of the starting gate this season.

The oldest son of Ray Bourque is keenly aware he hasnt produced offensively and its compounded by struggling with his confidence in the Boston area where he grew up and developed as a hockey player. The career AHL player is also on this third NHL organization after failing to break through in past stints with the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins, so theres a healthy amount of pressure on a stint with the Black and Gold that might be his last, best chance to secure an NHL gig.

I normally put a lot of pressure on myself, and when I dont the pressure mounts even more for me. I just need to go out there and not think about that stuff. I just need to go out there and play my game, said Bourque. Its not that Im not comfortable here, but its just a learning process getting used to his surroundings.

Now Bourque is getting scratched for Thursday nights tilt against the Buffalo Sabres in favor of the bigger, tougher Lane MacDermid in anticipation of a gritty battle with their division rivals.

I had a good talk with Chris this morning. I think hes putting a lot of pressure on himself right now and hes certainly not the Chris that we know, said Claude Julien. Ive seen him enough to know that hes a really good skater, hes a really good playmaker, but I think right now hes putting way too much pressure on himself.

Hopefully we can help him through that and once he takes the extra weight off his shoulders youre going to see a player that can certainly be a much more efficient player than hes shown so far.

Is there a part of Bourques game that he feels like he isnt showing with the Bruins?

Yeahscoring, said Bourque, who led the AHL with 93 points scored last season and obviously hasnt lost his sense of humor amid the struggles. I dont know if its the pressure or that I just want it to happen so bad, but sometimes when you want it so bad you always forget about what youre supposed to be doing out there.

I dont think Im playing badly. Im just not playing my type of hockey. Im always going to bust my balls every shift, finish my checks, back-check and all that kind of stuff. Thats the easy part. I feel like I belong in this league and I think I can produce in this league. I just havent gone out and shown it yet.

The clock is certainly ticking for Bourque, and hes smart enough to know it. Jordan Caron is playing in the AHL for Providence and represents a bigger, stronger option if its decided the third line needs more of a net-front presence in its combination. Jay Pandolfo continues to skate with the Bruins and could be a solution as a third line left wing capable of killing penalties and filling a checking line role to the T.

But Bourque also deserves a chance to take a breath, get his bearings and get at least one more extended shot with the Black and Gold because a big upside is there if he can find the same NHL comfort zone that's allowed him to kill at the AHL level.

Monday, Dec. 5: Craig Cunningham's recovery

Monday, Dec. 5: Craig Cunningham's recovery

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while fully getting in the holiday spirit by getting the family Christmas tree this week.

*Very good and very sobering story about Craig Cunningham’s slow recovery, and his large support system with the AHL Roadrunners team he is captaining this season. It sounds like it might be a bit of a long road for him, so he and his family will need that support from those around him.

*Tyler Seguin has his shot back, and that’s great news for the Dallas Stars power play. So is that like Stella getting her groove back?

*A KHL player went into a sliding dab formation in order to celebrate a goal on the ice, and we salute him for that.

*The Maple Leafs are trying to fortify their backup goaltending situation after waiving Jhonas Enroth this week.

*Interesting Bob McKenzie piece about a young man that’s hoping to challenge conventional thinking in the hockey coaching ranks.

*TSN’s Scott Cullen takes a look at Winnipeg rookie Patrik Laine’s shooting skills as part of his “Statistically Speaking” column.

*For something completely different: the hits just keep on coming for Netflix as they’re going to double their TV series output over the next year.

Chara probable vs. Panthers, Beleskey misses morning skate

Chara probable vs. Panthers, Beleskey misses morning skate

BRIGHTON, Mass. -- There were both expected and unexpected absences from Bruins morning skate on Monday morning at Warrior Ice Arena ahead of tonight’s game at TD Garden against the Florida Panthers. Matt Beleskey was the expected absence after getting knocked out of Saturday’s game with a lower body injury caused by a Tyler Fedun check to his right leg, and Torey Krug was also missing from the ice after pulling workhorse duty over the last handful of games in the absence of Zdeno Chara.

Following practice Claude Julien confirmed that Chara was “probable” to return for tonight’s game vs. the Florida Panthers after missing the last six games, and that Krug is expected to play after succumbing to the same illness that felled Patrice Bergeron over the weekend. Beleskey was being checked by doctors on Monday, and it sounds like his absence might be a bit longer term than simply a “day-to-day” lower body injury. 

Noel Acciari took part in practice, and it appears they both could be closing in on a return to the lineup. Frank Vatrano also shot the puck around a bit at the very beginning of Monday’s skate, but came off the ice as the team began their preparations for tonight’s game. 

Here are the Bruins projected line combos and D-pairings vs. Florida based on the morning skate with Beleskey and Krug both absent:

Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak

Schaller-Krejci-Backes

Spooner-Nash-Czarnik

Blidh-Moore-Hayes/Acciari

Chara-Carlo

Morrow-McQuaid

K. Miller-C. Miller

Rask

Khudobin