LOS ANGELES, CA -- Last season, Lance Bouma potted five goals and 15 points through 78 games.
Not bad production from the blue collar grinder, who was just 23 years old and getting accustomed to a full season in the NHL.
This year? The Provost, AB native has surpassed those totals -- tallying nine goals and 22 points through 52 games -- and has taken on a much bigger role with the team.
Throughout the course of the year, head coach Bob Hartley hasn't hesitated to promote the gritty winger to a top-six role and most recently, he has been tasked with helping Mikael Backlund and David Jones shut down opponent's top lines.
It is a lot of responsibility but the Bouma has constantly proved he is up to the challenge.
"He's a hard-nosed player. He loves to play. He's a great competitor," Hartley stated. "And he's a very good pro -- he's an excellent pro. You look at him prepare, you look at him practice. I know that I can always count on him.
"He's not going to cheat you. The effort will always be the same. He's going to drive. He's a big part of our team."
On Monday, Bouma ended up scoring the game-winning goal in a 4-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks, logged 16:23 of ice time, picked up an assist, and fired three shots on net. He was named the first star of the game for his efforts.
"Lance gave us a big goal but he's a guy you can always count on," Hartley said. "He's a very proud soldier for us -- blocks shots, drives, gets on the forecheck, goes at the net, solid defensively.
"I felt that him, Mikael Backlund, and David Jones, they gave us a real good game. Being matched against [Joe] Thornton or the [Logan] Courture line, they were very strong."
Prior to the game, Sharks head coach Todd McLellan singled out Bouma as a type of player that teams need in order to succeed.
When told about the praise, he shrugged off the spotlight placed on him. For Bouma, the most important thing is helping his team get to the postseason.
"It's nice but I'm not really worried about that. I'm just worried about playing my game every night and doing whatever I can to help this team win."
Up in a suite in the SAP Center in San Jose, Bernie Bouma watched his son help push the Flames to a 17-4-1 record against their Pacific Division foes.
While Bouma knew his dad would be pleased with the game, he was expecting a few light-hearted jabs about the missed opportunities he had in the third period.
"He'll be happy for me, for the goal, but I'm sure he'll have something to say about the missed ones there."