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.
The Coyotes have hired former player Craig Cunningham as a pro scout, keeping the 26-year-old in hockey after a cardiac episode ended his playing career this season.
Drafted by the Bruins in the fourth round of the 2010 draft, Cunningham played 34 games for Boston over parts of two seasons before he was waived and claimed by Arizona. He totaled 19 games for the Coyotes, but served as captain of the Tucson Roadrunners, the team’s AHL affiliate.
Cunningham was hospitalized after he collapsed during pregame warmups on Nov. 19. He was kept alive by continual CPR, but had his lower left leg amputated the next months due to an infection from the episode.
Known as a high-character player who was popular with his teammates, Cunningham’s transition to scouting lets him further his career after a scary break.
"I'm very excited to begin the next chapter of my life with the Coyotes," Cunningham said in a statement released by the team. "I'm very grateful to John Chayka, Dave Tippett, the Coyotes and Roadrunners organizations, and all of the great fans across Arizona for the incredible support I've received over the past year. I'm looking forward to helping the Coyotes and I can't wait to get started in my new role."
Said Chayka, the team’s general manager: ”We're thrilled to have Craig join our hockey operations department as a pro scout. Craig was a smart, hard-working player with an incredible passion for the game. We're confident that he will bring those same qualities to the Coyotes in his new role and that he will be an invaluable asset to our organization. We look forward to Craig helping us in several areas and are excited that he is staying with the club."
Here are all the links from around the hockey world and what I’m reading while really enjoying what the CW does season in and season out with the Flash.
*The talk is turning to the next captain of the Buffalo Sabres, and what they can do to help open up communication up and down the roster.
*A guy that wore a Habs toque on his twitter avatar writes a glowing, praise-filled article about the performance of PK Subban during these Stanley Cup playoffs. He’s undoubtedly been good, but he just might have been wearing his Montreal Canadiens footie pajamas when he wrote this one, and rattling his fist at Habs management all the while.
*Interesting piece by Jason Gregor about the “window to win” for the Edmonton Oilers, and an odd notion that the window will close when Connor McDavid has moved out of his entry level contract. I’d say that’s kind of ludicrous.
*The Colorado Avalanche coaching staff has been let go after last year’s dreadful season, and that’s too bad for a really good guy in former Providence College head coach Tim Army. I’m sure he won’t be out of work long.
*Colin White made his Stanley Cup playoff and NHL debut for the Ottawa Senators in Game 6, and helped push Ottawa to a Game 7. It will be interesting to watch the Massachusetts native and former Boston College standout develop with the Senators as White was one of the players that the Bruins skipped over to instead draft Jake DeBrusk and Zach Senyshyn in the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft. The others, Mathew Barzal, Travis Konecny and Kyle Connor, are all either in the NHL or knocking on the door as well, and it’s going to be a challenging road for both of Boston’s forward prospects to live up the justification of the B’s drafting them first. Granted DeBrusk and Senyshyn are also both doing their thing for the P-Bruins as they push into the conference finals of the Calder Cup playoffs, and they’re both bright prospects in their own right. It’s going to take years to determine the rights and wrongs of that first round, but White getting into the lineup for the Senators is proof of just how high that organization is on him.
*Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan says that Sidney Crosby handled the targeted abuse well from the Senators in a Game 6 loss that will push to a Game 7 between the Penguins and the Senators.
*For something completely different: A great message from Brookline homey and former Sox GM wonder boy Theo Epstein in his commencement address to Yale University.