BROSSARD – With a brand new season on the horizon, Rene Bourque is hoping to pick up right where he left off last year.
After lighting the lamp at a torrid pace during the Canadiens’ deepest postseason run since 1993 last spring following a subpar regular season campaign, the 32-year-old right-winger departed La Belle Province back in June for his offseason home in Chicago with peace of mind. Now, Bourque just wants to keep trending in the right direction, showcasing the form that saw him score a team-leading eight goals in 17 postseason games in 2013-14.
“I think I definitely came in with a better frame of mind this time around. I want to get off to a good start and I believe in myself that I’m still a good player. Obviously, I want to have a good camp and get off to a good start,” offered the nine-year NHL veteran, who skated on a line with Lars Eller and Jacob De La Rose during the Habs’ first training camp scrimmage on Friday at the Bell Sports Complex.
Bourque, who put up just nine goals and 16 points in 63 regular season games last season, is excited to begin the 2014-15 campaign with a clean slate.
“I want to be ready for the season-opener on October 8th, obviously. I want to be in the best shape that I can be. I want to be in good game shape, and just going in with some confidence and feeling good with my body and my mind,” stressed Bourque, who is adamant he isn’t putting any added pressure on himself entering his third full season in Montreal. “I’m going to work as hard as I can the next couple of weeks and prepare myself as much as I can.”
If Bourque is feeling good about the state of his game right now, it’s safe to say head coach Michel Therrien feels exactly the same way. The Canadiens’ bench boss spoke highly of his power forward on Friday, acknowledging that while Bourque might’ve hit the proverbial wall time and again between last October and early April, he ultimately came through for the bleu-blanc-rouge when the stakes were at their highest and his team needed him most.
“I’m hoping to see the same Rene Bourque I watched play at the end of last season. He’s a big guy, and he played great hockey at the end of the year and in the playoffs. We’re hoping that he’ll continue in that direction,” mentioned Therrien. “It was a bit of a tough season for Rene, but he put it all together at the end of the year. We’re hoping that with the way he finished, he can bring that same attitude back right from the start of training camp.”
Based on the way the three-time 20-goal scorer reported to camp on Thursday, it’s clear he’s off to a stellar start.
“Talking about Rene Bourque, I have to mention the fact that all of our players came to camp in extraordinary shape. It shows you just how serious they were over the summer. We were all impressed by the professionalism and desire that they put into their training before reporting to camp,” offered Therrien, who was quick to praise the Lac La Biche, AB native, among others, for their undeniable commitment to offseason training and preparation.
Clearly in a good place both physically and mentally, all Bourque is focused on now is playing to his potential from puck drop onward on a consistent basis.
“I think I’d like to score 20,” concluded Bourque, who should hit the 600-game mark for his NHL career come January. “I think that’s definitely a possibility.”
Matt Cudzinowski is a writer for canadiens.com.
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