Bourque's Confidence Coming Around
Chris Bourque adjusting to NHL, learning to make his own path in the spoked-B
BostonBruins.com - Leading up to the start of the season, Chris Bourque was asked countless times about coming into play for the team that his Hall of Fame father, Ray, led for for over 20 years. He downplayed the father-son storyline, saying he wanted to be his own player and start his own legacy with the B's.
Coming onto the Boston roster, Bourque was the Providence Bruins' leading scorer through its first 32 games (with 8-20=28 totals). That start to 2012-13 came one season after he had led the American Hockey League in points in 2011-12, with 93 (27 goals, 66 assists) for the Hershey Bears.
Though Bourque has not registered a point and is a minus-3 through the B's first four games, his adjustment back to the NHL (he played 33 career games with Washington and Pittsburgh before coming to Boston) has been smooth.
“I think it’s definitely a big transition from the American League to this level, obviously the best league in the world,” said Bourque following Sunday’s practice at Ristuccia Arena. “I feel day by day I’m getting better each day. Every game I feel a little bit more comfortable out there.
“Hopefully I keep trying to get going and get even more comfortable out there and start making even more plays.”
The little kid who used to run around the Bruins locker room at the Boston Garden is a Bruin now, and says the shock-and-awe factor and the hype about him coming to Boston is starting to subside. Only when he walks the hallways of the new Garden does he find himself getting caught up in it all.
“I kind of got used to it a little bit. Every once in a while I see something hanging on the wall, a picture of my dad or something, I catch myself staring at that,” explained Bourque. “I keep saying I grew up pretty much in the dressing room, the one at the Garden.
“Everything’s so familiar, but then again, it’s something new, playing on this team. I’m starting to get used to it, but every once in a while, you get caught off guard a little bit.”
Like Bourque, Head Coach Claude Julien sees continued improvement in the winger’s game every day and believes that patience is needed when dealing with new players coming into a new system.
“I thought [Friday] was probably his best game,” said Julien following the Bruins’ 4-2 win over the Islanders. “I thought he made some good plays, I thought he was skating better. And again, his confidence with our team is coming around and we’re seeing him getting better.
“That’s why you have to be patient sometimes and give those new players an opportunity to fit in a feel their way through. We’ve seen him enough to know what he’s capable of doing and our confidence is certainly with him. So, I thought he played well [Friday] – the best game of the season for us so far, so that’s a good sign.”
One area of Bourque’s game that Julien has especially liked is his skill on the power play.
“Bourque is a great player, skilled guy and I think he’s been an important part of our power play, as far as giving us that left shot that we need right now. He’s been pretty decent there.”
The B’s are just 1-for-17 on the man advantage so far, but Bourque thinks the units are starting come together.
“[There’s been] a couple good plays on that power play unit of ours,” he said. “We’re just kind of making some good plays, getting in the zone and getting shots on net. I think we need a little more of that, score a couple more goals, shoot the puck a little bit more. It’s starting to click a little bit more, I think the goals will come.”
Bourque has been skating alongside Rich Peverley and Chris Kelly in the third line left wing spot, with Kelly (one assist) being the lone member of the trio to have registered a point. It has been a slow start offensively, but Julien is not overly concerned – once again, preaching patience.
“Well, I think it’s hard to make that assessment because we’re in the fourth game of the season. And I watch some games on TV and, you know, I could be a lot more disappointed in situations I’ve seen from other teams,” said Julien, in regards to the offensive drop-off for the third line to begin the season.
“But we’re hanging in there, and we know it’s just a matter of time for certain guys to turn it around. Right now, you’ve just got to maybe show a little patience as far as the finishing touch is concerned.
"But as long as they work hard and are progressing, you keep pushing them in the right direction.”