|Chris Bourque not worried he’ll be replaced at trade deadline||03.04.13 at 3:21 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — As the trade deadline approaches, players on bad teams worry about being moved, but players on good teams worry about being replaced. Not too many Bruins should have reason to worry about that, but Chris Bourque probably tops that list.
With less than a month to go before the trade deadline, enough of the season has been played for teams to diagnose potential weaknesses and where upgrades could be needed. In the Bruins’ case, there isn’t much not to like.
Tyler Seguin is finally hitting his stride after a slow start and the Bruins’ top two lines have been very productive. The defense has been strong as usual, and though Andrew Ference isn’t having his best season, the B’s shouldn’t actively seek anything more than a potential depth move on the back end. Tuukka Rask has been healthy and strong, so between the offensive production, solid defensive play and sound goaltending, you’d have to nitpick to find an area that needs upgrading.
That’s why Bourque’s name has come up so much. The Bruins have grown accustomed to getting more production out of the third line, and Bourque has gone from the third line left wing to the fourth line Saturday to a healthy scratch Sunday, which was his second of the season. He was taken off the power play late in Saturday’s win against the Lightning before eventually sitting vs. the Canadiens.
With there little not to like about this Bruins team, Bourque has been a target for criticism from the get-go. The chemistry with Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley — two guys who gelled with the likes of Michael Ryder and Benoit Pouliot in the past two years — wasn’t there, so it’s no surprise that B’s fans were hoping for a Ryder redux prior to last week’s deal that sent the veteran sniper from Dallas to Montreal.
Despite Ryder no longer being an option, you would think that a winger for that Kelly line would be at the top of Peter Chiarelli’s shopping list as April 3 draws nearer. If the Bruins were to upgrade on the third line, Bourque wouldn’t be of much use as a fourth-liner, so he would likely suffer the same fate that Joe Corvo did last season when Boston replaced him in the lineup with Greg Zanon.
For now, Bourque isn’t worried that the trade deadline will mean him losing his spot in being lineup.
“Everyone’s here to win,” Bourque said Monday. “If they bring more guys in, that’s what they’re going to do. I can’t control any of that stuff. I’ve got to control what I can control and that’s it.”
In 17 games this season, Bourque has one goal and three assists for four points and a minus-4 rating. With three more games, the 27-year-old will have tied his career high with 20 games played, which he did in the 2009-10 season with the Penguins. The question at the beginning of the season was whether Bourque would be the season-long answer with Kelly and Peverley after being given the job in camp, but he’s yet to secure a stranglehold on the spot.
In the meantime, Bourque says his mindset hasn’t changed from one game to the next. He’s going to assume he’s in the lineup and he’s going to assume he’ll be given more opportunities. Time might be running out for him to make a lasting statement though.
“You come to the rink ready to play,” Bourque said. “If you don’t, then you’re not coming to the rink with the right attitude. You’ve just got to stay positive and be ready at all times.”
|Chris Bourque feels the comfort is there and the offense will come||01.25.13 at 12:47 pm ET|
Chris Bourque is only three games into his Bruins career, and though neither he nor his line has made a ton of noise on the ice, he’s found Boston — the third NHL stop of his career — to be an ideal fit.
“Every game I feel more and more comfortable,” he said. “Obviously getting the nerves out the first couple of games, playing in the Garden with a full house, there’s definitely a little bit of nerves and obviously in New York the other night, but I’m starting to settle in here and I’m starting to feel pretty good and hopefully just get better every day.”
Bourque said that it still feels “surreal” playing for the Bruins given that he grew up watching his father, Ray Bourque, carve out a Hall of Fame career with the B’s, but that’s to be expected.
“Every day that passes, you get kind of used to it a little bit more,” he said. “Seeing my dad’s picture all over the place, every time I see that it reminds that he was such a legend here, so it’s still a little bit different, but something that I’m going to have to get used to. It’s a lot of fun being around these guys, a great group of guys and a good hockey team.”
As for what he’s done on the ice, Bourque is looking for his first goal as a Bruin (he has one goal in 36 career NHL games), but he’s been trusted with minutes on the third line, power play (he was on the ice for Brad Marchand‘s power-play goal against the Rangers Wednesday) and shootout, as he was Boston’s third shooter against the Jets Monday. The confidence is there on Bourque’s part, and the faith is there on Claude Julien‘s part.
“Chris Bourque is a great player, skilled guy,” Julien said after Friday’s morning skate. “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. I think he’s another guy that’s feeling his way through our hockey club. The one thing you want out of players that are coming in for the first time is that they don’t hurt your hockey club, and [he] hasn’t.”
The line of Chris Kelly between Bourque and Rich Peverley hasn’t been the Bruins’ strongest — they’ve produced no goals, while Bourque and Peverley have minus-2 ratings and Kelly is a minus-1 — but Bourque thinks the process of coming together has gone increasingly well.
“I think every game has gotten better,” he said. “Last game there were a lot of power plays and PKs. [Kelly and Peverley] kill penalties and me and Pevs are on the power play, so we didn’t play as much together as a line, but when we’re out there I feel like we’re creating some good energy. That’s part of the job as a third line is creating energy for the team and getting momentum. I think it’s been going pretty well so far.”
|Lines unchanged as Bruins return to practice||01.16.13 at 1:35 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — The Bruins returned to practice Wednesday after holding a scrimmage at TD Garden Tuesday in an effort to simulate a game-day. The P-Bruins bested Boston, 7-5, but Claude Julien likes what he got out of the game.
“I think it’s part of the plan moving ahead that we ramp it up a little bit, guys are getting in better shape, a little bit more on the battle side,” Julien said. “It’s all part of preparing for Saturday.”
The lines for the B’s remained the same, with Chris Bourque remaining on the left wing of Chris Kelly‘s line.
“I thought he played well last night,” Kelly said of Bourque. “It’s still new, but he skates well, he’s got a great shot, thinks the game well. There’s times that in the D zone when we had to change and things like that, and it wasn’t a problem. He’s fit in quite nice.”
|Some more prepared than others as Zdeno Chara, Chris Kelly and Patrice Bergeron return||01.09.13 at 2:00 pm ET|
Three of the Bruins’ leaders were back skating with their teammates Wednesday, as captain Zdeno Chara and alternate captains Patrice Bergeron and Chris Kelly joined eight other B’s on the ice at Agganis Arena after spending the lockout playing in Europe.
All three players spoke highly of their time in Europe, as Chara played for Prague Lev of the KHL and Bergeron and Kelly played in different leagues in Switzerland. Bergeron actually played right wing for HC Lugano of the Swiss-A league, but it wasn’t the strangest experience had by a Bruin in Switzerland. That distinction might go to Kelly, whose first game for HC Red Ice was a little more taxing than he expected.
“I think they thought I had just played in the playoffs and was swinging over there, but I hadn’t played a game in seven months,” Kelly said. “I think I played about 40 minutes that night, so the legs were a little tired. It went into overtime, so it wasn’t like you could kind of pick your shifts to catch your breath.”
Despite the first game catching him a bit off guard, Kelly called his month in Switzerland “a great experience.” Though he returned to North America (he spent the last month or so in Ottawa) in game shape, he was at least a little rusty when it came to packing his hockey bag for Wednesday. He took the ice in Tyler Seguin‘s HC Biel jersey, as he had forgotten socks and a jersey.
“It’s funny when you get used to having a jersey and socks in your stall and then you’ve got to scramble to find a jersey and socks, and asking guys if they brought an extra towel to shower with after,” Kelly said. “It will be nice having a towel at the rink.”
The Bruins had 11 players in Europe at one point or another during the lockout, something that Kelly feels should be an advantage from a preparational standpoint as teams get ready for the 48-game regular season.
“It was never about the money or anything like that or going over there of a vacation,” he said. “I know guys in this locker room extremely well, and if they went over to play, it was to play hard and help that team and play hockey.”
|KHL did not try to keep Zdeno Chara||at 11:48 am ET|
Speaking publicly for the first time since returning from the KHL on Tuesday and amidst speculation that KHL teams were making big financial pushes to keep NHL players from returning to their teams, Bruins captain Zdeno Chara said Wednesday that he was not approached about staying in Europe.
“No,” Chara said after skating with teammates at Agganis Arena. “It was pretty clear in my contract that once the NHL is beginning or the deal [for a new CBA] is done, that I’m leaving. It depends on how the guys feel or how they want to decide what to do.”
Ilya Kovalchuk has been the most popular player whose future remains uncertain as the start of the NHL season draws near. Though he’s entering the third year of a 15-year, $100-million contract with the Devils, multiple reports have surfaced citing Devils sources who believe Kovalchuk will stay in the KHL. Islanders defensman Lubomir Visnovsky recently announced his intention to remain with HC Slovan Bratislava for the rest of the season rather than going back to the NHL.
“There’s a lot of speculation, there’s a lot of uncertainty, but we’ll see,” Chara said of NHL players staying in the KHL. “I mean, what can I say? I can’t really make comments for them.”
Since forming in 2008, the KHL (Kontinental Hockey League) has become the NHL’s primary competition as hockey leagues go.
“There are some really, really skilled guys there,” Chara said. “Players are very highly skilled as far as skating and handling he puck and making plays. I think it’s less physical, but skating-wise and skill-wise it’s a little bit different.”
|Report: Chris Kelly headed to Switzerland||10.31.12 at 12:10 pm ET|
|News and notes from Wednesday’s conference call with Peter Chiarelli||06.13.12 at 8:01 pm ET|
Here are some of the takeaway bits from Peter Chiarelli‘s conference call with the media today. For Wednesday’s column on what he and the players had to say about the Chris Kelly and Gregory Campbell signings, click here.
– Chiarelli said that while he did not see Tim Thomas‘ Facebook post, nothing has changed on the Thomas front and the team still believes Tuukka Rask and Anton Khudobin will be the NHL goalies next season. Thomas heavily implied but did not flat-out say that he was taking the year off, and the Bruins have not heard from the netminder since.
– Asked about the status of restricted free agent Benoit Pouliot, Chiarelli offered no update on the team’s intentions but said a return for the 25-year-old is “a possibility.” Pouliot and Brian Rolston are the only two forwards from last year’s team that are not signed.
– The general manager confirmed that with all of the team’s centers locked up, the plan for Tyler Seguin is to keep him at right wing in the coming seasons. Seguin was drafted as a center after playing the position in the OHL, but the combination of the team’s depth and his getting familiar with the NHL has kept him at right wing for the vast majority of his two professional seasons.
“Kells is a center and [Rich Peverley] is a center and they’ve played wing, so for the short term, yes,” he said of Seguin staying at wing. “He’s had success at the wing, and short term may be one, two, three years. Who knows? At this point we don’t have any reason to put him to the middle.”
– Kelly’s deal won’t officially be signed until July 1 because of what Chiarelli called “payroll tagging issues.”
“It’s a salary cap thing,” he said. “It’s called tagging room about future commitments, and so because of that, we won’t be able to register until July 1st. Basically, it’s a formula based on salary cap and future commitments.”
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