Hitting his stride

Friday, 13.06.2014 / 3:31 PM canadiens.com

MONTREAL – Rene Bourque’s season can be summed up in two separate stages, the second of which was far more productive than the first.

If Bourque had a disappointing year offensively during the regular season with just 16 points in 63 games, the rugged forward certainly redeemed himself when the playoffs came around.

“I wanted to have a good playoff run and finish the year on a high note. I was able to find my game in the playoffs, and that helped me forget about the regular season a bit,” admitted the Lac La Biche, AB native. “Despite the struggles I had during the year, I never doubted myself.”

Bourque finished tied for the team lead with eight playoff goals while posting 11 points in 17 postseason tilts. He also played an instrumental role in the Canadiens’ sweep of the Tampa Bay Lightning, scoring three times in four games.

He also made some history of his own by registering a playoff hat trick, something only 20 players in Canadiens history had managed to accomplish. That feat came on May 27 when Bourque scored three straight goals to lead the Canadiens to a 7-4 win over the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference Finals.

“I hope that I’ll keep having success down the road. When you get that far in the playoffs, you’re even more excited to start the season,” underlined Bourque, who picked up five points in his last four playoff games. “It’s unfortunate that the run ended there, but the future is bright for this team.”

While many people doubted the 6-foot-2 forward’s scoring ability, Bourque, who missed 10 games due to injury and another 10 as a healthy scratch, never looked back, focusing instead on the challenge right in front of him.

“I still believe that I’m a good player. I proved it to myself and I know that I’m still capable of putting up points. I’d really like it to continue next year,” stressed Bourque, who believes that his size is one of the main factors behind his success come spring. “During the playoffs, the focus is primarily on physical players. The style of play is more physical. All you want to do is win, and you do everything you can to win.”

Jeered by fans and targeted by sports journalists at times throughout the 2013-14 campaign, Bourque knew full well that he’d have to face the music because of his lackluster regular season output. With that in mind, the 32-year-old responded brilliantly at the end of the year.

“Montreal is Montreal. Everyone knows what to expect when you get here. If you play poorly, the media will definitely get after you. You have to deal with that,” explained Bourque. “I haven’t read anything that’s been written about me in newspapers since I’ve been in Montreal.”

Based on what he accomplished in the playoffs, it's safe to say Bourque won't be changing his tune in that department anytime soon.

Vincent Cauchy is a writer for canadiens.com. Translated by Matt Cudzinowski.

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