Bourque ready to return

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:28 AM ET

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The fact the Calgary Flames have flourished in his absence is not lost on Rene Bourque.

He missed a half-dozen games due to an undisclosed injury, and the team posted an impressive 5-0-1 mark, with all but one of those games on the road.

He’s itching to join the fun, ready to return for Thursday’s clash with the Phoenix Coyotes.

“Hopefully I don’t jinx it,” the left winger said after Wednesday’s practice. “A lot of guys stepped up. Iggy (Jarome Iginla) has been hot all month, but Dawesie (Nigel Dawes) is been playing well, Mosser (David Moss) has been playing a lot better, Olli (Jokinen) is scoring, Kipper (Miikka Kiprusoff) has been great. Everybody was playing solid and we got some big road wins.

“Brent (Sutter, the head coach) was joking with me the other day, saying, ‘It’s gonna be hard to put you back in the lineup.'”

That statement, of course, was in jest.

“A player like that, you make room for him,” Sutter said.

It looks like that room made for Bourque is on a line with Iginla and Jokinen.

That’s not a bad consolation prize for Bourque, who was leading the team with 21 points (7-14-21) in 20 games before the undisclosed injury.

He not only lost his spot on a line with Dawes and Daymond Langkow because Moss has stepped up in his place, but Bourque also lost his perch atop the club’s scoring race, since Iginla continued his red-hot offensive play through the month of November.

“Yeah, that went away pretty quickly,” he said with a chuckle. “Iggy’s been on fire. I didn’t expect to stay there too long.”

Iginla was named the NHL’s first star of the month thanks to 20 points in 14 games, while Jokinen has found his game after a tough opening month.

Bourque will be looking to ride the wave, although he can create his own momentum, too. After all, he was probably the team’s most effective skater in October.

“Brent said to play the same way with them as I did before,” he said. “Even though I’m playing with Iggy and Olli, I have to play my game. It’s hard to play with these guys if you’re a young guy — you could tend to just look for Iggy — but I’m going to play like I have all year.”

Jamie Lundmark was reassigned to the AHL’s Abbotsford Heat to make room for Bourque on the 23-man roster.

Bourque had a spin on left wing with Iginla and Jokinen in the playoffs last year, but that was when he’d returned from an ankle injury which required off-season surgery.

“Now that I’m healthy and they’re playing well, I’m sure we’ll have a lot more chemistry,” he said. “I’m excited to play with them. I think it’ll be a good fit, and I’m back on the left side, which is my natural position.

“Hopefully, it’ll go well.”

The team is yet to disclose what Bourque’s injury was. He was knocked out of the Nov. 19 game against Chicago after a hard hit from Niklas Hjalmarsson.

“It was totally my fault. I knew he was there and I didn’t think he would step up that quick. And, obviously, I didn’t think he was going to hit me that hard,” Bourque said. “I played with him a little bit in Chicago and he was known for big, open-ice hits.

"I was playing against him most of the game, so I said to myself, ‘I have to watch out getting the puck because he steps up.’ I wasn’t thinking.”


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