SUN Hockey Pool

Rene's game not lacking power

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:43 AM ET

Seventeen times Rene Bourque has lit the lamp this season.

Not once has he been able to see an opposing player leave the penalty box in shame.

That's right, not one of the Calgary Flames' third-leading goal scorer's tallies has come on the powerplay.

Other than a single short-handed marker Dec. 5 in New York, all of the forward's goals have come during five-on-five play.

"Obviously I'd want to be on the powerplay, but we have a lot of guys that could be on it," said Bourque. "If you're not on the first unit on our team, you're gonna get maybe 20 seconds. That's maybe a breakout and shot and that's it."

It's hard to imagine many teams in NHL history with their No.-3 goal scorer failing to score even once on the powerplay. No others are in that boat this season.

Vancouver's Alex Burrows and Edmonton's Ethan Moreau both have 12 goals this season, none on the powerplay.

Bourque, who kills penalties and sees the odd shift on the powerplay, has chosen to take pride in the obscure trend he's carrying.

After all, the game is still built around five-on-five play.

"Everybody talks about how special teams are such a big part of the game, and that's where you win and lose. It's true, but my goals have come five-on-five, and that's where I have to score because I'm not going to get too many chances on the powerplay," he said.

"It's hard to score five-on-five but if you're playing with the right guys and getting a lot of chances, it'll go in."

In his case this season, more often than before.

When Bourque opened the scoring in Monday's 4-3 loss in Denver, it set a career high for the 27-year-old acquired last summer for future considerations.

Considering how his career was stagnating after three seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks, the move to Calgary has been even better than he hoped.

"Just to be on a winning team, in a position to be in the playoffs, first place in the division," he said.

"I hadn't any of that in the three years I was in Chicago, so just to be winning makes the year go by so much quicker and so much fun.

"Individually, I think I'm ahead of where I thought I'd be already in terms of goals. Points, I'm about the same, and it's great. I have a lot of confidence and getting more opportunity to play than I did before."

Just as quirky as the zero powerplay goals Bourque has collected is the number under the category of game-winners.

None of his have been the difference maker.

"That's what I don't understand," he said. "Hopefully, I'll get a few of those the rest of the season. I'm not happy about that, but I don't know how to explain it. I guess timing.

"As long as we're winning, I can't worry about it."

It's not like his goals have been meaningless, coming when games are out of reach for either side.

"I think my goals have come at times in the game when we needed some cushion or the first goal of the game. I think my scoring through the first, second and third periods is pretty even."

Bourque doesn't just have those two quests in mind. Setting a career best wasn't the hope for the season. It's a standard he's close to reaching.

"I think once I get 20, I'll be happier than reaching a new best," he said.

"I knew once I had a good start I would probably get over my previous total. Get 20, and I'll build off that."

Maybe it'll be a game-winning, powerplay goal, to do it.


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