SUN Hockey Pool

Bourque ramps it up

Flames forward Rene Bourque wrestles with Senators defenceman Jared Cowen at the Scotiabank...

Flames forward Rene Bourque wrestles with Senators defenceman Jared Cowen at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alta., Nov. 15, 2011. (TODD KOROL/Reuters)

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:48 AM ET

CALGARY - The goal is a perfect example of what Brent Sutter has been looking for from Rene Bourque.

In the second period of the Calgary Flames 7-6 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes Tuesday, Bourque was active, supporting his defenceman in the Calgary zone, raced out to the blueline to poke away the puck from a Hurricanes defenceman, created a two-on-one rush and then buried a shot.

To Sutter, the beauty of Bourque’s play went well beyond the tally, his third in four games.

“When I talk to him, it’s not about scoring goals. Goals are a bonus,” Sutter said.

“At the end of the night, I don’t evaluate Rene Bourque on whether he’s scored. I evaluate his whole game, five-on-five, killing penalties, in front of the net on the powerplay, defensively.

“He’s scored the last few games because a lot of other areas of his game have been in place. That’s the important thing.”

A few weeks ago, Bourque’s play was on the other side of the spectrum. Not only was the team’s second-line right winger not scoring, he was a liability defensively, seeming disengaged.

It was to the point he was mercilessly ripped by Hockey Night in Canada commentator Kelly Hrudey, who rarely publicly criticizes players.

After going through a horrible November, with just one goal and two points, Bourque has been a different player since the calendar flipped to December.

He admitted it took a long time for him to wrap his mind around the fact he could be a better offensive player by being a better defensive player, but he is seeing the benefits.

“I was thinking about scoring too much,” he said.

“When you watched games, I was just getting myself into position only in the offensive zone, sometimes cheating by going somewhere before we got the puck. Or, sometimes standing still. I put pressure on myself to score and from there let other parts of my game go.

“Over the last few weeks, Brent and I talked about what’s going to get me opportunities to score and what

I have to do to get those shots. It comes from moving my feet, playing well positionally in your own end, little plays like that.

Bourque has showed what he can do with his size, speed and shot.

“The points and the goals are a reward for everything else he does and does well,” Sutter said. “That’s why he’s getting them now. He’s been finding his way in those other areas.”

It would be easy to connect the dots that Hrudey’s comments — among them that Bourque should apologize to his teammates for his lack of production and lack of passion — are a factor, but Bourque shot that theory down in a hurry.

“That had nothing to do with anything,” he said.

“I’m still not happy about what he said. I haven’t seen him and he hasn’t shown his face around here. He’s entitled to whatever he says, but it’s not bothering me.”


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