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Under the Boston microscope, Chris Bourque still seeking results

01.31.13 at 1:52 pm ET
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There haven’t been many changes to the Bruins’ lineup, so Chris Bourque hasn’t exactly been able to slide in under the radar.

Yes, he joined the Bruins this offseason with everyone knowing that he was the son of Bruins legend Ray Bourque, but he also came in with people knowing he wasn’t able to stick on other NHL rosters, so he had something to prove. With that comes pressure. With a slow start to his Boston career came more pressure, and it’s been easy for fans to be down on the 27-year-old.

With Jordan Caron working his way back from a shoulder injury and a mediocre performance in the AHL, Bourque was handed the left wing spot on Chris Kelly‘s line, as well as a job on the Bruins’ second power-play configuration. He’s also been given a shot in each of the Bruins’ shootouts this season, but through six games he has gone pointless with a minus-4 rating and an 0-for-2 showing in shootouts.

Though the team has yet to lose a game in regulation, Bourque has felt the burden of a slow start, and it led to the team making him a healthy scratch in favor of Lane MacDermid for Thursday night’s game against the Sabres.

“I obviously put a lot of pressure on myself, especially to produce,” Bourque said after Thursday’s morning skate. “When you don’t produce, you feel like you’re not helping the team win, but we’ve been winning. We haven’t lost a game yet, so I can’t complain too much. Like I said, obviously I want to contribute and help the team win, so if that’s by getting points or just doing little things, that’s what I’m trying to focus on.”

Kelly himself didn’t score in his first 20 games for the Bruins after being acquired prior to the 2011 trade deadline, totaling just two assists in the process. He gets the sense that a lot of the pressure that Bourque is feeling will go away when he finally buries one.

“I’ve been in his shoes before, where you want to come in, you want to play the perfect game defensively, yet you’ve got to add some offense to kind of get noticed,” Kelly said. “I think Chris has done a great job and helped our line. He’s just a little unlucky here or there, but those bounces will eventually go in.”

In 39 career NHL games, Bourque has one goal and three assists for 13 points. He’s bounced around since playing at Boston University for a season, as he’s played in the Washington and Pittsburgh organizations while also spending time in the KHL and Swiss League. His skill set is apparent, as it wasn’t just his name that made him the 33rd overall pick in the 2004 draft, but the production hasn’t been yet.

“I think he’s putting a lot of pressure on himself right now, and it’s certainly not the Chris we know,” Claude Julien said Thursday. “I’ve seen him enough to know he’s a really skater, he’s a really good playmaker, but I think right now he’s putting way too much pressure on himself. Hopefully we can help him through that. Once he takes that extra weight off his shoulders, you’re going to see a player that can certainly be a much more efficient player than he’s shown so far.”

Time will tell whether Bourque’s stay in the press box is prolonged. The Sabres have more fighters in their lineup than previous seasons thanks to the additions of John Scott and Steve Ott, so perhaps the Bruins simply wanted to add another fighter (MacDermid had seven fights in Providence this season) for Thursday. Either way, the value of Bourque hasn’t been lost on Kelly, who said Bourque has been a good addition to a line that just hasn’t been able to score yet this season.

“He gets in on the forecheck, he makes good plays in the breakout,” Kelly said of Bourque. “He’s in the right spot offensively and defensively. You get one of those bounces and you guys aren’t talking to us, we’re blending in.”

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