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.