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.