Flames’ Bouma’s impressive shot blocking headlines all-around effort against Vancouver
Youngster looks to bring continued great two-way play into Monday’s game against Los Angeles
The first one — an Alex Edler blast off his ankle — hurt. A lot.
Then there was Chris Butler’s point shot off his toe. He forgot about that one, that one hurt too. But, technically as a forward, he shouldn’t really be getting in the way of those anyway, being in the offensive zone and all.
Either way, all night against the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday Lance Bouma was doing what Lance Bouma does. Throwing his body in front of the opposing team’s shots, sacrificing his ankles, shins, and other body parts in a role that if you’re not watching closely, you might miss.
“Lance was great at the two ends,” said Calgary Flames head coach Bob Hartley. “Lots of blocked shots defensively and offensively, he had quite a few chances. As many chances as he’s going to get, that’s how he’s going to improve offensively and find a way to get us some big goals.”
Truth be told, the 23-year-old’s numbers aren’t staggering in the goal department. Only five tallies (and 12 points) to his name in 60 games this season — essentially his first full National Hockey League campaign with the team that drafted him in the third round of the 2008 NHL entry draft. Right before Yannick Weber scored the equalizer in the third period, he had just missed a wide-open net after Sean Monahan had slipped the puck over to Bouma (which sums up the type of luck the winger has sometimes).
But in 17:21 minutes of ice time in a 2-1 loss to the dastardly Canucks proved exactly what else Bouma is about. Currently, he’s third among the NHL’s forwards with 64 blocked shots sitting behind only Edmonton centre Boyd Gordon (77) and Anaheim centre Ryan Getzlaf (71).
With three hits (as many as defenceman Ladislav Smid) and five of the team’s 32 recorded blocked shots (the same as defencemen T.J. Brodie, Chris Butler, and Tyler Wotherspoon) on Saturday night, the former Vancouver Giant’s game is clearly more than what appears in his statistics as a forward.
“Well, everyone was committed to blocking shots and doing the job defensively,” downplayed Bouma before the team jetted back to Calgary to enjoy a day off on Sunday. “Just a few breakdowns and ended up costing us in the end.
“(Games like Saturday) are fun games to play in. Those are games you want to be a part of and close games like that. It’s too bad we couldn’t come out with (a win).”
And Bouma would be the first to tell you the Flames did everything in their power to beat one of the teams they dislike the most.
Always motivated to return to the city where he made his mark on the Western Hockey League, Bouma was easily one of the best forwards on the ice on a line with crafty centre Markus Granlund and feisty Brian McGrattan.
“I’m gaining confidence every game and the coaches are putting a lot of trust in me and putting me in key situations,” he said. “I’m having fun with it. I’m just trying to learn as much as I can in a little amount of time. So far, I feel like it’s going pretty well.”
Which is another example of Bouma’s commitment to improvement. Throughout the year — his first since missing nearly the entire 2012-13 campaign after blowing out his knee — he’s been healthy scratched on four different occasions.
And, like any player, he used it as motivation. Hartley has noticed.
“No. 1, his commitment,” he said. “His commitment to getting better. He’s a great young pro. He’s very committed, very dedicated, and wants to improve. Defensively, I felt he really learned quick. Then his commitment to block shots is second-to-none. I’ve coached a lot of guys in my career that have missed quite a few. He has a lot more than what shows on the stats sheet. I know that for a fact. But, in the end, what really matters is what we know — not what’s on a sheet. Offensively, for him, I think with him it’s going to be a matter of finding a little touch and he’ll give us some big goals.”
Bouma’s development this year has been a bright spot when looking toward the future after this 2013-14 season wraps up in 18 games.
“He’s a fun guy to coach because you know he doesn’t cheat you a second,” Hartley said. “He’s a great teammate, is ready to do anything to give us a chance to win. Hey, that’s who he is. You can count on him, road games, away games. He’s pretty solid.”
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