Last season, aside from the emergence of Craig Smith, another Predator gained a ton of respect and gratitude from the Predator fanbase and played his way into top line minutes under Coach Trotz’ direction: Gabriel Bourque.
The 5′ 10″, 192 pounder from Quebec had a brilliant season where he put up 19 points in 43 games with an unbelieveable 6 PIM. In these contests he managed a -2 while playing primarily on the third and fourth lines. The talent around Gabriel Bourque on the third line included Craig Smith and Matt Halischuk for many of the games and each of these players attained solid numbers while scoring timely goals in the process.
Bourque was on display even more in the playoffs tying Legwand and Andrei Kostitsyn for most goals. He also notched two assists which put him second in playoff scoring, a Joel Ward-like surprise in production.
The speed of Gabriel Bourque is probably he finest asset. He cuts down the ice with such quickness that he can beat out icing calls and cause mismatches for defensemen who find themselves turning at the wrong time. Alongside Craig Smith and Matt Halischuk, Bourque’s speed is to the third line what Martin Erat brings to the top line: an ability to dart in and out, spin and distribute to the streaking center and right winger.
If the Predators didn’t bring in anymore help for the offensive side of the roster, Gabriel Bourque would provide the extra assistance for any injury relief for the top two lines.
Forthcoming articles will focus on Craig Smith and Matt Halischuk, the other two auteurs of the formidable Predators 3rd line.