We have rounded out the top nine in our effort to predict the Montreal Canadiens lineup for the upcoming season. The third line left wing spot was voted on today and though it was fairly tight between three competitors, Rene Bourque won out in the end. The final voting was:
Bourque 194 votes 46%
Bournival 127 votes 30%
Prust 103 votes 24%
Moen 1 vote 0%
With Bourque penciled in as the third line left winger, we now have a three lines filled out.
Pacioretty – Desharnais – Parenteau
Galchenyuk – Plekanec – Gallagher
Bourque – Eller – Sekac
******** – ******** – ********
Bourque makes sense as thethird line left winger on this team, based on his great play in the postseason. He was on a line with Lars Eller and Brian Gionta in the playoffs, and scored eight goals and 11 points in 17 games. The eight goals led the team.
Bourque is a big winger, who used his size and speed well in the playoffs to drive to the opponents net, and was rewarded with plenty of scoring chances. He also used his big frame to his advantage, and was a physical presence for the Habs, especially against the tough Boston Bruins.
This was great, but I still don’t think Bourque deserves the third line spot. He has been maddeningly inconsistent since he arrived in Montreal two and a half seasons ago, and only brought the total package together for a short time in last year’s playoffs.
Bourque has played 128 games with the Habs since a midseason trade in January of 2012. In those games, he has scored a measly 37 points, including just 16 assists. This is mostly playing on a top six line with Tomas Plekanec and Brian Gionta.
What NHL player wants to play on a line with a guy who gets an assist every eighth game? Based on his regular season career with the Habs, we can project that Bourque will score 13 goals and add 10 assists if he plays every game next year.
Michel Therrien realized this late last season, and though he always give preferential treatment to his veteran players, Bourque spent quite a bit of time in the press box last year. Bourque bounced back in the postseason with a good series against the Tampa Bay Lightning and a great series against the New York Rangers, but I am very doubtful he will be able to duplicate that success next season.
Michael Bournival on the other hand, is ten years younger than Bourque (22 to 32) and had the same small burst of offense that Bourque had (11 points in 17 games), but Bournival’s came in November. The younger forward is a much better skater, and above all else, actually shows up to play on every given night.
I think Therrien had enough of Bourque’s disappearing acts last season, and will be quick to bench him like he did in March and April before the postseason. If Bourque can be consistent for the first time in his Habs tenure, he will be fine, but I can’t seem him lasting on Eller’s wing for very long.