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.

Bruins recall McIntyre on emergency basis, but perhaps not for Rask

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Bruins recall McIntyre on emergency basis, but perhaps not for Rask

UPDATE: The Boston Herald reports McIntyre is with the team as a replacement for Anton Khudobin, who is said to be suffering from a minor injury, and not Tuukka Rask, and that Rask will start as scheduled against Nashville.

BOSTON -- Even though he's been proclaiming himself healthy and able for the last two days, Tuukka Rask may not be as ready to go as everybody thought.

The Bruins announced a couple of hours prior to Tuesday night’s game against the Nashville Predators that rookie goalie Zane McIntyre had been recalled on an emergency basis. He spent the weekend with the team in the same capacity, filling in for Rask while Rask battled a lower body injury.

So the logical assumption is that something has recurred that will prevent Rask -- who on Tuesday night told interim coach Bruce Cassidy he was ready -- from playing tonight.

Rask is 8-8 with a 2.91 goals against average and an .892 save percentage since the NHL All-Star break, and gave up five goals in a loss to Tampa Bay on Thursday night. He missed Saturday's big game vs. the Islanders with a lower body issue that just “popped up.”

We’ll find out for sure during pregame warm-ups, but the only way an emergency recall can be made is if a player is injured or suffering from an illness. Anton Khudobin looked fit as a fiddle while practicing with the Bruins on Tuesday morning at Warrior Ice Arena, so stay tuned for the latest.

Some clarification on why Bruins may opt for ATO with Charlie McAvoy rather than playing him in the NHL

Some clarification on why Bruins may opt for ATO with Charlie McAvoy rather than playing him in the NHL

The second BU’s season ended, Bruins fans were champing (it’s champing, not chomping; look it up) at the bit to get sophomore defenseman Charlie McAvoy to the NHL. 

So when word emerged from Bob McKenzie that it’s looking like McAvoy will join Providence on an amateur tryout, eyes rolled. Why not sign McAvoy to his three-year entry level contract, have him stay in Boston and get some NHL experience. After all, we hear over and over that as long as you don’t play 10 NHL games, a year doesn’t get burned. 

The answer is because that 10-game thing doesn’t apply to everyone. It applies when talking about teenagers who are coming from the CHL, which is when the issue most commonly pops up, a la Tyler Seguin in 2010-11. 

Yet much like it didn’t apply to Torey Krug when he signed with the Bruins in 2012, it doesn’t apply to McAvoy now. The reason some kids can play nine games and then go away without a year being burned is because their contract slides. Players who are 18 or 19 years old as of Sept. 15 of their signing year see their deal moved back a year as long as they don’t play 10 NHL games, including the playoffs. 

For players who are 19 as of Sept. 15 of the year they sign (not season) and turn 20 between Sept. 16 and Dec. 31, their contract does not slide. This is all explained neatly here. 

If you’ve fallen asleep by this point, wake up right quick. McAvoy is 19 and will turn 20 on Dec. 21. That means that if McAvoy and signs and plays an NHL game this season, one year will be burned off his entry-level deal, making him up for a new deal after the 2018-19 season rather than the 2019-20 season. Same goes for Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson, who already is 20. 

The Bruins actually used this drawback to their advantage when they signed Krug. The B’s let the 20-year-old Krug play in an NHL game after he signed, which got him to restricted free agency a year earlier. The promise to play him and burn that year was likely a reason Krug chose to sign with the B’s as an undrafted free agent. 

So for now, yes, an ATO is the safe play for the Bruins if they want to maximize the value of McAvoy’s entry level deal. His NHL career might have to wait until the fall.