Bourque starting to find his footing with Bruins

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Bourque starting to find his footing with Bruins

WILMINGTON, MA A funny thing has happened over the last couple of weeks with the Boston Bruins.

Third line winger Chris Bourque has begun to find a comfort zone with the Black and Gold, and started producing offense and solid two-way shifts along with the energy and effort that was present at the beginning of the season. The 26-year-old has power play points in two of his last three games, and has points in three of his last six contests while settling into a third line role.

Bourque even logged some minutes with David Krejci and Milan Lucic at the end of the win over the Winnipeg Jets and was practicing again with that duo on Tuesday at Ristuccia Arena. Its no coincidence that the minutes on a top six line coincided with Bourque playing his best game of the season against Winnipeg with Grade A offensive chances and hustling back-checks coming from the same player. The solid two-way play was coupled with a strong work along the wall where Bourque was winning battles against bigger and stronger opponents.

Its also the reason he received a season-high 15:04 of ice from Claude Julien and the Bruins coaching staff.

Thats a long way from the player that was a healthy scratch in the first game against the Buffalo Sabres, and appeared to be wandering out of his comfort zone while trying to impress everybody earlier in the season.

Youre missing a guy like Lucic out of your lineup and you have other guys that step up in your lineup, said Julien, who singled out both Bourque and Tyler Seguin for breakout games last weekend against the Jets. Both those guys can be extremely good for you when theyre at their best.

You hope that Bourque can build on that. The confidence is such a big part of the game. You hope those guys can build on it and make it more of a consistent game coming from them.

For Bourque the extended look granted by the Bruins has allowed him to get more comfortable with the players around him, and hes moved into a top power play unit role along with Zdeno Chara, Rich Peverley, Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand that has yielded results in the last handful of games.

Ive said it before: you stay positive and go out there and work hard and when you get chances you need to make plays while staying strong defensively. I thought I had a petty good game in all three zones, said Bourque. If I can build off that then I can start rolling. I just need to say consistent and keep battling out there. I hope more of those games will happen and that I just keep battling. Its all good.

The plays on the wall are the place where you really need to bear down here. Coach really prides himself on us making those small plays and playing good defense. Ive tried to focus on that and the offense is starting to come. Offensively I had a lot of chances and was able to create some things, so hopefully I can build off that.

The hope is that Bourque continues to play with increased creativity and confidence as the season moves along and keeps pouring cement on a spot hes paving out on the Black and Gold with markedly improved play.

Heinen looking to show his offense in his shot on Krejci line

Heinen looking to show his offense in his shot on Krejci line

BRIGHTON, Mass – The Bruins mixed things up with their roster a bit on Saturday after dropping a couple of games in a row to Washington and Colorado. 

Fourth-line energy winger Noel Acciari and playmaking forward Danton Heinen were called up from Providence and will be in the lineup against the Toronto Maple Leafs at TD Garden on Saturday night. 
Acciari went to Providence the past couple of days to get some game action in after missing the past month with a lower body injury, but clearly showed he’s ready to go. 

So, Acciari is back to provide the same hard-hitting and energy he showed before he was hurt and Heinen is looking to show off a little more offense than in his first stint with the Black and Gold this season. He’ll be featured in a top role as left wing with David Krejci and David Backes and with marching orders to shoot the puck like he never shot it in his previous stint in Boston. 

For the Bruins, it’s about getting another look at a candidate to play left wing beside Krejci with both Ryan Spooner and Tim Schaller, with limitations to their respective games, unable to fully grasp that same opportunity. 

“My hope is that Heinen can come in and give us some good hockey. He’s a skill player and he’s been down there for a while, and he’s back up again because he’s been playing well,” said Claude Julien of the Bruins rookie, who had four goals and seven points in his past five games with Providence. “Hopefully he can play well here also. It’s about getting some confidence. When he went down to [the AHL] the pace of his game had to get a little bit better, and in the battles coming up with the puck along the walls. Those are the kinds of things we thought he could work on down in Providence.”

Heinen knows he needs to shoot the puck a bit more to show off his offense after a seven-game stint with the Bruins where he went scoreless, was a minus-2 and had just six shots on net.

“Being hard on the walls, playing fast and shooting the puck, those were all things I was working on [in Providence],” said Heinen, who has seven goals and 13 points in 13 games for the P-Bruins after being assigned to Providence. “I was doing what they told me to do [in Providence] and that’s shoot the puck. They were going in, and I was getting some good opportunities on the power play. It’s seriously tough to get chances [at the NHL level], so you can’t pass them up when you have chances. That was kind of my focus down there.”

Fellow fourth-line energy winger Anton Blidh has been shipped to Providence after three solid games with the Black and Gold. 

Julien said Blidh goes back to Providence having adequately shown that he can play in the NHL. He clearly showed the Bruins that he understands his role as a player that stirs things up a bit and gets his nose dirty on a regular basis.

“[Blidh] was fine. No issues there. He does his job. He plays with lots of energy and obviously he’s getting more experience. He’s a lot better at understanding his positioning within the game and what he has to do,” said Julien. “I thought he helped us out for the time that he was here.”

With Heinen and Acciari both in the lineup and Blidh back in Providence, that means Jimmy Hayes will be scratched after dressing for three of the past four games for Boston.

Saturday, Dec. 10: Vegas, scoring on NHL governors' minds

Saturday, Dec. 10: Vegas, scoring on NHL governors' minds

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while doing some early Christmas shopping ahead of the late rush. 

*Mike Zeisberger sits down with a quartet of NHL governors and discusses a number of hot topics including the Vegas franchise and scoring around the league. 

*Carolina Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos has been removed from the NHL Board of Governor’s Executive Committee amid rumors that the Canes might be a prime candidate for relocation. 

*Pierre McGuire weighs in on Connor McDavid’s war of words on the ice and Carey Price losing his mind in the crease against the New Jersey Devils. To that end, Wayne Gretzky liked seeing McDavid get a little combative at such a young age. 

*The New York Islanders signed Cal Clutterbuck to a five year contract extension, and some are skeptical it will turn out well for the Isles.

*David Pastrnak is a premier scoring threat in the league, and Scott Cullen has some details behind that. I will say this: his stock falling in the draft had less to do with his size or heaviness, and more to do with him being concussed for a long stretch of time during the year leading up to the draft. 

*The Florida Panthers are really struggling to stay positive with a 1-5-0 record since the ownership group and management decided to fire Gerard Gallant. 

*For something completely different: Baywatch stars then and now.