Sunday, March 18, 2012

An Uninvolved Bourque is an Unproductive Bourque

Consistently among Habs least-involved forwards

Rene Bourque was brought over in a trade involving Mike Cammalleri. The trade was meant to bring in a player capable of replacing Cammalleri's offense, while both saving cap space and getting bigger. The logic was solid, but the results are disappointing. Bourque has managed only 7 points through 29 games with Montreal. His 4 goals translate to a pace of only 11 over an entire season, while his minus-16 traditional plus/minus is cringe-worthy. His penalty-minutes are far-below their usual pace, and his shooting percentage is at a career-low 7.1%.

Bourque's struggles begin and end with his lack of involvement. He has the third-lowest event per-minute total among forwards, as he engages in only 3.24 events every minute he is on the ice. For comparison sake, fellow winger Max Pacioretty engages in 4.02 events per-minute, while Erik Cole engages in 3.60. Even the recently traded Andrei Kostitsyn (3.47) engaged in significantly more events per-minute than Bourque.

Only recent-arrival Brad Staubitz has a lower even-strength risk/reward than Bourque's 0.71. Bourque was able to produce risk/reward ratings above 1.00 during three of his first six games, but has not produced a rating above 1.00 in over ten games. Again, it is lack of involvement that hurts his rating. In the four games that Bourque's rating was above 1.00 he engaged in more than 3.66 events per-minute, while he has averaged under 3.20 events per-minute every other game.

Bourque has also earned negative risk/reward ratings in four games this season. In each of those 4 games, he engaged in fewer than 2.17 events per-minute; just more than half the events produced by the Habs top winger Max Pacioretty.

Bourque has the seventeenth-ranked success-rate among forwards when engaging in plays that require him to acquire or remove puck-possession from the opposition, while only Staubitz has a lower success-rate for plays that require him to maintain puck-possession.  Expressed differently, this indicates that Bourque loses possession of the puck more than any player not named Staubitz.

Bourque's even-strength ratio of 1.56 successful plays for every 1 unsuccessful play is also lower than any other player except Staubitz.


OFFENSIVE-ZONE

Bourque has only the fourteenth-best offensive-zone risk/reward rating among Canadiens forwards. He recovers more offensive-zone loose-pucks than every other player except Pacioretty, but his inability to maintain puck-possession ends many offensive-forays. He completes a team-low 52% of his offensive-zone pass-attempts, and wins only 42% of his o-zone puck-battles.

DEFENSIVE-ZONE

Only Staubitz and Michael Blunden have lower defensive-zone risk/reward ratings than Bourque's 0.23. He recovers the least amount of loose-pucks in the defensive-zone, but has the sixth-best defensive-zone puck-battle winning-percentage among forwards (51%). He completes 67% of his defensive-zone pass-attempts. But, has blocked only 9 shots the entire season, while Pacioretty has blocked 38.

Bourque's game will only improve with an increase in involvement. Using his speed to recover loose-pucks, engage the opposition, and fill shooting lanes will help both Bourque's rating and the team. The results have shown that when Bourque is more involved in the play, he simply plays better.

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