By Phil Stacey
---- — Eight-month-old Kingston Bourque has not missed a home hockey game that his father, Chris Bourque, has played for the Providence Bruins this season.
Both father and son would like to see that streak continue — only now with the father playing his home games at the TD Garden in Boston.
With the National Hockey League lockout over and training camps set to begin this weekend, Bourque is expected to be among a handful of Providence players called up in an attempt to crack the Boston roster.
There is an open spot on Boston’s third line alongside regulars Chris Kelly at center and Rich Peverley at right wing, so Bourque — a natural left wing — could be a perfect fit. The 26-year-old from Boxford has been Providence’s leading scorer this winter, with eight goals and 28 points in 32 games.
“We haven’t officially been told who’s going up yet, but I’m sure there will be a handful of guys,” said Bourque, who has seen previous NHL stints with the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins.
“If I’m lucky enough to go up and showcase myself, I’m going to go all out in playing my game, and hopefully (the coaching staff and Bruins management) see something in my game that they think can help the team win. It’s all I can do; control what I can control.”
With the shortened 48-game regular season slated to begin Jan. 19, NHL teams will have less than a week to hold abbreviated training camps and set their rosters for the start of the season. With Jordan Caron — who some felt had an inside track to that third line opening — out for at least three weeks with an injury sustained last Friday night while playing for Providence, the Bruins will be looking for a speedy, scrappy player who can be responsible in all three zones to fill that role.
Bourque and his Providence linemate, highly regarded 20-year-old forward Ryan Spooner, appear to be the most likely candidates to do so.
“Even from the beginning of the season, Ryan has improved so much,” said Bourque, whose famous father Ray Bourque patrolled the Bruins’ blue line for better than 20 years and is in the Hockey Hall of Fame. “He’s a really good skater, sees the ice so well and is a great offensive talent — and he’s still so young. His skill level and offensive upside are terrific. The Bruins are lucky to have him.”
In having conversations with both his coaches in Providence and members of the Bruins staff during the lockout, Bourque was made aware of what the team expects of him, what he can do to help the team and the areas he needs to work on to stick in the NHL. He’s dedicated himself to reaching those goals of being a complete player — especially in the defensive end, a must for any skater who tugs on the Boston sweater under coach Claude Julien.
“The Bruins really harp on that, playing well in all three zones. They’ve made it a real easy transition for me as far as learning the systems here and what I need to do,” said Bourque, who will turn 27 years old on Jan. 29. “Watching video of what they like their guys to do has been a great help.
“I have confidence in myself, and I hope they think the same thing of me. It sounds cliche, but you really have to have that mindset that you can break camp with the team. You’ve got to go in with a positive attitude and tell yourself you’re capable of playing in (the NHL) and helping the team win.”