Bright Spots - Rene Bourque

Pat Steinberg
August 21 2010 08:09PM

BUFFALO - NOVEMBER 13: Rene Bourque #17 of the Calgary Flames warms up before the game against the Buffalo Sabres at HSBC Arena on November 13, 2009 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by: Rick Stewart/Getty Images)

With all this not-so-positive talk over the last few days surrounding names like Tim Jackman and Alex Tanguay, it's probably time to look at something definitevely positive from last season.  Kent already put together a great analysis of Mark Giordano's breakout season, and now I'll look at the career season for Flames forward Rene Bourque.

Last season was Bourque's second full season in a Flames uniform, and second straight career year.  In the 2008-09 campaign, Bourque put up 21 goals and 40 points in 58 games, as injuries forced him to miss 24 games.  Last season, those numbers improved in a very noticeable fashion, as Bourque posted 27 goals and 58 points, this time in 73 games.  Even with the increased number of games, Bourque was still ahead of his pace from the previous year when it comes to points per game.

There were a few reasons for the improvement, with Bourque's increased comfort level being a huge part of it.  However, just as a big reason came from how he was utilized by two different coaches.  In 08-09, Head Coach Mike Keenan used him primarily in even strength and shorthanded situations, giving him little to any time on the man advantage.  The 09-10 campaign saw that practice shift, as Bourque turned into one of Calgary's best "all situation" players.  He finished the season with six powerplay goals, trailing only Jarome Iginla with ten.  His four shorthanded goals topped the Flames in that category, while his total of 27 also finished second; again to Iginla.

Those "counting stats" are easy indicators of just how much impact Bourque had the past two seasons, but they aren't the only ones.  Let's look first at scoring chances, compiled throughout last season.  Among full season Flames forwards who played 60 or more games, Bourque's numbers were impressive.  This table looks at all scoring chances at 5-on-5 for five Flames forwards, all who were roster members start to finish last year.

So, Bourque ranks behind Glencross and Langkow when it comes to scoring chances generated while on the ice at even strength, specifically 5-on-5.  Bourque was clearly an impact player last year, even without looking at his point totals.

Bourque's scoring chance totals become a little more impressive when you look at his offensive zone start number, which was the second lowest of the group at 52.7% (Langkow's number was 47.7%).  I have yet to really wrap my head around the QualComp (quality of competition) number completely, but it was higher than everyone on that list, save Iginla.  That does tell you Bourque was able to do some good work playing against some good opposition.  His Corsi number was also respectable, at 5.19.

The one real negative when talking about Bourque comes in when you talk about injuries.  Bourque missed nine games last season with two seperate injuries, one in December that was "undisclosed' and a shoulder injury suffered in March.  He missed the final 24 games of the previous season with an ankle injury; albeit, he had played 58 straight games prior to that.  In his 2007-08 campaign, playing with Chicago, Bourque also missed 20 games with an ankle injury.  It is a concern for some observers, especially after Bourque signed a six year, $20 million extension in February.

The actual dollar figures on the contract are fairly favorable to the Flames, with him counting $3.33 million against the cap per season.  However, it's the six year term that has some pointing to his injury history.  However, for the dollar figures, and for Bourque's production in a Flames jersey, I'm willing to wait and see how the injury situation works itself out in the future.  You can't dispute the facts though...Bourque has been one of Calgary's most consistent players since joining the team, and if he continues to progress, his impact level will continue to improve.  Darryl Sutter traded a second round pick for Bourque in the summer of 2008.  To this point, it has been one of the better moves Sutter has made.

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Pat Steinberg can be heard daily on the Fan960 in Calgary at can be read at the FAN 960. Born and raised in Calgary, Steinberg considers himself a huge fan of all sports including the CFL, MMA and 13 round bare knuckle boxing matches. Follow Steinberg on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Fan960Steinberg.
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#1 Kent Wilson
August 21 2010, 08:24PM
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This table looks at all scoring chances at 5-on-5 for five Flames forwards, all who were roster members start to finish last year.

One caveat: I didn't get to count all 82 games due to some not being televised, some being PPV and me simply not watching the final two. What we have here is the SC for about 72 games last year I believe.

The one real negative when talking about Bourque comes in when you talk about injuries.

That and his lack of discipline. Bourque is a guy who should be drawing more penalties than he takes, but he tends to lose his head a lot.

That said, he was the Flames best forward for a huge chunk of the season last year.

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#2 Balthazar
August 22 2010, 10:13AM
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Rene's a lot of fun to watch too (speed, aggression, shooting). As a fan, that's important to see.

I'll echo Kent's second negative: lack of discipline is frustrating, but recognize that might just be a part of his character. Hopefully he can draw a few more this year and take a couple less meathead penalties with a net improvement in goals for.

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#3 dotfras
August 22 2010, 01:04PM
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Love Bourque. Him, Gio and Kipper were basically THE only bright spots on this team last year. (Along with Iginla's month of November)

On the topic of the Flames play in November, Kent, aside from coincidence and luck, is there anything that affected Iginla and the rest of the team's play during that month?

Cause November was a month that I think got a lot of our hopes up.

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#4 Kent Wilson
August 22 2010, 03:50PM
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dotfras wrote:

Love Bourque. Him, Gio and Kipper were basically THE only bright spots on this team last year. (Along with Iginla's month of November)

On the topic of the Flames play in November, Kent, aside from coincidence and luck, is there anything that affected Iginla and the rest of the team's play during that month?

Cause November was a month that I think got a lot of our hopes up.

It was mostly luck if I remember correctly. Jokinen and Jarome were still skating together a lot and getting outchanced. The fact that Iginla shot about 30% for the month covered everything up.

There was one game near the end - I think a 5-0 win over Nashville that gave me hope at the time that the team had turned a corner. Instead, they started their rather rapid decline almost as soon as December hit.

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#5 chris
August 22 2010, 06:13PM
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@Kent Wilson

I agree. When December rolled around the Flames began to lose alot more than before. I thought it was just a rough stretch the team was going, and that the team had finally made enough changes that the losses would'nt begin to snowball. Boy, was I wrong. After December came the worst month I've ever seen from the Flames since the lockout. I will never again think that this team has turned over a new leaf, so that I dont get disappointed again. Well, until Darryl Sutter gets canned.

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#6 dustin642
August 22 2010, 06:58PM
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Yep, for a 2nd round pick this guy was definitely worth it! But he does take way too many penalties and for his skill/speed does not draw nearly enough. What about pairing him with a player who was good at drawing penalties (Hagman)? Seems like the 2 of them might make a good pair and hopefully Hagman can draw more than Bourque will take. Last season between the 2, they drew 43 penalties (29 of those were Hagman) and took 32 penalties (27 of those were Bourque).

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#7 SmellOfVictory
August 22 2010, 07:27PM
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@dustin642

I would presume Hagman will be his de facto winger. Bourque is pretty much set as the Flames' 2nd line RW, and Hagman is one of the two best LWs on the team; since Tanguay seems to have been brought in specifically to play with Iggy, Hagman's place is alongside RBQ. I honestly think they'll make a great duo, both being quick and skilled, and presumably this season Hagman's PDO won't be completely in the toilet.

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#11 Kent Wilson
August 22 2010, 08:49PM
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Pat Steinberg wrote:

I think a 5-0 win over Nashville that gave me hope at the time that the team had turned a corner.

I remember that game vividly. It was a game where you really thought things were looking up. On that night, the Flames could have beat any team in the NHL...unfortunately, that was their peak.

Haha me too. Partially because of the comment string here:

http://www.matchsticksandgasoline.com/2009/11/30/1180106/flames-predators-post-game

which was brief but has an object lesson in taking those kinds of victories too seriously (ie; discounting weeks of competing evidence that the team might not be too good because they look dominant for an evening).

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#12 dotfras
August 22 2010, 11:17PM
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A line of Hagman-Lanks-RBQ would be great, Iginla-Jokinen-Tanguay would then be able to play softer minutes giving the team a nice 1-2 punch. Does anyone have a recent update on Langkow?

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#15 R O
August 24 2010, 08:18AM
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A line of Hagman-Lanks-RBQ would be great, Iginla-Jokinen-Tanguay would then be able to play softer minutes giving the team a nice 1-2 punch.

Only works if the third line is also strong, because the easiest and most consistent way to get the soft matchup is the shift after the other team's best come off the ice.

You let your opposing coach run your bench like that and the line after your soft-minutes line comes on is going to get shelled by his soft-minutes line.

Let's not get cutesy here, Brent Sutter did that last season and we ALL railed against him every single game. Do we not remember how frustrating it was to see the best RW (Iggy) and the best C (Lanks) dominate their opposition, only to get split up for no good reason and then for the team to subsequently look mediocre?

Iggy and Langkow, linemates on the first line. Why am I the only one who ever suggests this? Clearly I am the only one who remembers how bad Iginla and Jokinen were together in any capacity, and how good Iginla and Langkow were.

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