Bourque struggles on hot squad

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:57 AM ET

Rene Bourque knows he’s taking a beating.

The Calgary Flames are riding high and have climbed into eighth place in the NHL’s Western Conference.

But Bourque has been cold as ice.

The winger, in the first season of a six-year, US$20-million contract, had high hopes of being a 30-goal scorer this season, but his empty-net tally in Monday’s 3-1 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks was just the 16th of his season.

Moreover, it was just his third in

23 outings.

Those struggles have made him one of the Flames’ few targets for the slings and arrows.

And he’s beating himself up, to boot.

“For a while,” Bourque said Monday. “It’s tough. It’s definitely been easier because we’ve been winning, but it’s been tough.”

An empty-net goal is hardly reason to celebrate, nor is it reason to consider a slump over.

However, Bourque believes it’s a step forward.

“It’s something to get the ball rolling and get some confidence,” said the product of Lac La Biche, Alta. “Hopefully, I start to take off.”

Flames head coach Brent Sutter said he’s seen ‘signs’ Bourque’s game is coming around, saying the winger did a better job of driving to the net, battling in the corners and firing the puck with a purpose against the Blackhawks.

Sutter wants Bourque to worry about playing well instead of scoring goals.

“He puts a lot on his shoulders, and it bothers him, so it’s getting him to understand goals will come if he’s a good player in all areas on the ice,” Sutter said.

“There’s two things that are a tremendous starting point for individuals, and he answers both of them in a very positive way.

“One, is he a very good guy? Yes. Is he a very good hockey player? Yes.

“Those are two great things he has going for him to start with, so now we work with it and get him in a good frame of mind.

“Also, it’s being firm in how we want him to play, and then he’s got to ... take

the onus on doing it.”

Regehr set for real 800

There was confusion regarding Robyn Regehr’s 800th NHL game. Originally, it was pegged as the Blackhawks game, but it will actually be Wednesday’s clash with the Ottawa Senators.

For a game years ago, Regehr was dressed so the club would have a full roster but didn’t actually take to the ice due to an injury.

“I couldn’t eat any popcorn or have a hot dog,” Regehr said jokingly. “I just had the pom-poms out.”

He’ll become the third player to play 800 games for the Flames, behind Jarome Iginla (1,079) and Al Mac-Innis (803).

randy.sportak@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/RandySportak


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