WILMINGTON, Mass. Cracking the Boston Bruinsopening night roster was a dream come true for Chris Bourque, but now comes thehard part. The 26-year-old Bourque has enjoyed the best NHL shot of his prohockey career in Bostonthus far, and its been impossible to take the smile from his face. But the Bruins forward isnt simply along for the ride, andhe's looking to stretch his playmaking muscles in order to showcase hisoffensive abilities. That hasnt happened through the first three games while averaging13 minutes of ice time per game. Hes been held scoreless with only a singleshot on net in three games along with a minus-2 rating while skating with RichPeverley and Chris Kelly. The oldest son of Hall of Famer Ray Bourque has beenflirting with putting up offensive numbers, of course. Bourque missed high with an empty netgoal in last weekends home opener against the Rangers and was on the ice withthe second PP unit when Dougie Hamilton and Brad Marchand finally broke throughin last nights 4-3 overtime loss. Thats a far cry from the player that led the entire AHLwith 93 points last season, however, and Bourque is looking to tap into thoseabilities now that hes getting comfortable in his new surroundings. Part of it is confidence, part of it is feeling the need toprove some things to his new teammates and part of it is simply walking theline between being a physical third-line two-way player and a skill guy looking up theice to make plays. Im getting pretty comfortable. Maybe Im keeping it alittle too simple, said Bourque, who has averaged 3:11 of power play ice timein the Bs first three games this season. Im trying to find my way. Ive feltbetter game by game, but obviously they want me to make offensive plays outthere. Ive been focusing defense first for the most part. But I also think theoffense will come after getting the nerves out in the first few games at home.Claude Julien said he sees a player in Bourque that hasntyet felt that level of confidence at the NHL level that hes shown as a topscorer in the American Hockey League. But the Bruins coaching staff remainsfully confident that Bourque will find his rhythm, and theyre still puttinghim out with Bostonssecond power play unit as they start to gel as a group. I just think right now that hes trying to feel his waythrough . . . period, said Julien. We know he can make plays. Weve seen it beforethat when he moves his feet things can happen. As a coaching staff we know whatweve seen from him in Providenceand you give him an opportunity to feel his way through a little bit. Everybody gets nervous sometimes when theyre with a newteam and everybody adjusts differently. But hes got such good vision, skilland he can shoot the puck. Those are assets for him and you hope something goodcan happen for him to build that confidence.All that being said Bourque saw three shifts for a grandtotal of 1:30 in the third period of last nights grudge match against theRangers. Hes been routinely replaced by Daniel Paille on the third line whenJulien is looking for a little more defenseexperience, and that can make it alittle challenging. Its a challenging spot to be in for a player anxious tomake an impact after passing through the Capitals and Penguins organizations,but theres also a pretty simple answer for Bourque. At every level, hes been an offensive player with the confidence that there are plays are all over the iceto be made. He needs to find that again in what is likely the best chance he'll ever get to carve out an NHL job for himself.
Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while ready for the Chris Sale era to begin with the Red Sox in a 1975 throwback uniform at Fenway’s opening day.
*Larry Brooks says that the New York Rangers are in “deep trouble” despite all of the goals that they’re scoring, and here’s why.
*Good piece from FOH (Friend of Haggs) Marc Spector about Kris Russell defying the analytical critics with his work for the Edmonton Oilers.
*Scary scene with the New Jersey Devils and Vancouver Canucks where Taylor Hall knocked out Philip Larsen with a hit, and then touched a brawl where the unconscious Larsen was kicked in the head a couple of times.
*Here’s some very good news about former B’s forward Craig Cunningham, who has begun communicating with his AHL teammates through Facetime calls and is alert, joking and sounding like somebody that’s starting to make a slow recovery from whatever mysterious thing caused him to collapse prior to a Roadrunners game.
*For something completely different: The first trailer for "Spider Man: Homecoming" is going to be shown during Jimmy Kimmel, and it’s looking pretty cool in this snippet.