The Montreal Canadiens can sweep away the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday at the Bell Centre and the Canadiens can thank Rene Bourque for the secondary scoring.
Bourque has a team high three goals for the Canadiens, a third of what he scored over 69 regular season games this season and more than he scored in his previous 27 games. The fact that Bourque started Game 3 for head coach Michel Therrien is surprising on its own. Therrien had a hunch and went with it. Turns out it was the right decision because the winger scored 11 seconds into the hockey game sending the Bell Centre crowd into a frenzy.
Bourque had a very disappointing season for Montreal and trade rumors swirled all season long. He was a healthy scratch in five straight games in March following an injury and again in April. All that changed the minute Montreal acquired Thomas Vanek from the New York Islanders.
The addition of Vanek gave more balance to the Canadiens lineup. They were able to take Brendan Gallagher off the top line and place him with Tomas Plekanec and Alex Galchenyuk. Brian Gionta was then placed on the third line with Bourque and Daniel Briere. In their first game as a trio Bourque and Gionta had a goal and an assist each in a 4-3 win in Toronto. Bourque fired a season high six shots on goal and it was that night where he started to find his game and Therrien was confident Bourque would turn it around. Since that game against the Leafs, Lars Eller has replaced Briere on the Canadiens’ third line and Brandon Prust has taken Galchenyuk’s spot on the second unit. Bottom line is, Bourque has given the Habs depth. 11 of the 12 forwards who have played for Montreal over the first three games of the playoffs have recorded at least a point.
Bourque has played with a lot of energy and is looking like the power forward who scored 27 goals in back-to-back seasons with the Calgary Flames in 2009 and 2010. The forward Montreal was hoping they would get when they acquired the Alberta native in exchange for Mike Cammalleri. Could this trade finally pay off for the Canadiens? Well Bourque will have to do a lot more than score three goals during the Habs playoff run. In Cammalleri’s first season with Montreal he scored 13 playoff goals and registered 19 points in 19 games taking the Habs all the way to the third round. Well, him and Jaroslav Halak.
I guess it’s a good thing that Habs general manager Marc Bergevin turned down a trade that would have sent Bourque to Colorado. If of course that is true, it may be one of Bergevin’s best moves apart from landing Vanek. Let’s sit back and watch a player who was once in Therrien’s doghouse now prove his worth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. It truly is amazing what a bit of confidence can do for a players game.