WASHINGTON, DC – Chris Bourque was the guy sitting in the middle of the center ice circle leading the post-morning skate stretch for the Bruins at the Verizon Center, and was obviously hoping to get into Thursday night’s lineup. The 26-year-old just wants to play first and foremost, but there’s a little extra there as the Bruins go up against the organization that drafted, developed and eventually gave up on Bourque when they dealt him to the Bruins last summer.
“I played with a lot of those guys in Hershey and played most of my career in that system,” said Bourque, who led the AHL with 93 points while playing for the Hershey Bears last year. “It’s going to be fun to go back and see some familiar faces.
“It will be a hard game as everybody saw last year in the playoffs when [the Capitals] knocked the Bruins out. They’re going to be trying to make a statement and they’ve won a bunch of games in their last ten or so. They had a tough start, but they’re coming around.”
In all, Bourque spent parts of seven seasons in playing for Washington or their AHL farm club, but never claimed an NHL job after the Capitals used a second round pick on him in the 2004 NHL Draft. He’s managed his best production at the NHL level in Boston this season with a goal and four points in 17 games for Boston, but he also finds himself on the bench these days.
Sunday night’s game against the Habs marked Bourque’s second healthy scratch of the season and came after he played a season-low 7:17 of ice time on the fourth line Saturday against the Tampa Bay Lightning. But Bourque also played very well when he was inserted back into the B’s lineup after getting scratched against the Buffalo Sabres last month, and hopes he gets that chance again.
There’s a chance Bourque plays Tuesday night against the Capitals as he did jump in a few times to practice with the power play at the end of morning skate, but he was also one of the last forwards off the ice denoting a healthy scratch in his future.
“You come to the rink ready to play. If you don’t then you’re not coming to the rink with the right attitude. So you come ready to play and stay positive at all times,” said Bourque. “That’s been my mindset all year and I’m sticking with it. Whenever you sit out you’re waiting to bounce back and show everyone that you want to get back into the lineup.
“The coaches are always going to do what’s best for the team. So I’m just going to be a good teammate and as long as we’re winning, things should be good.”
One thing is for certain: Julien needs more production out of the third and fourth line two months into the season. The normal fourth line of Thornton, Paille and Campbell has combined for three goals in the last 15 games, and Peverley, Kelly and Bourque have only five total goals over the course of the 19 game season. So Julien is still looking for the solution that will spark the Black and Gold, and he hasn’t quite found it yet.
“It’s what we’re battling with. We need more production from lineup. For the most part our first two lines have been good, and it’s about trying to find that right chemistry on the third and fourth lines that will give us more punch,” Julien said. “It’s about playing working to try to find their game. I think Chris Kelly has really turned a corner. Not only is he playing well, but he hit a couple of posts in that last game [vs. Montreal].
“Right now that line and the other is in the minus and it’s been a long time since we’ve seen that many of our players in that column. So it’s about trying to get that in the right place and that’s what we’re trying to do.”
So there’s at least a chance Julien could go back to Bourque if he’s looking for a little offensive spark both five-on-five and on the power play, and there won’t be set bottom-six lineup until he starts seeing consistent production from both sets of forward lines.