Bourdon Cashes In On Big-League Opportunity

13 Dec

WASHINGTON — He was the first player on the ice for morning skate. Not for the Adirondack Phantoms, but for the Philadelphia Flyers. If someone said that about Marc-Andre Bourdon last season, it probably would have garnered a few laughs. The third-round pick of the 2008 draft mostly sat in the AHL and was ragged on for conditioning problems, but now he’s one of the hardest-working Flyers.

The hard work was reward in the second period when at 7:23 of the middle stanza against the Washington Capitals in Tuesday night’s win, Bourdon got his first NHL goal.

“He’s been rock solid,” said Peter Laviolette. “His head is up. He makes a good first pass. He’s been physical. He looks really comfortable out there. His opportunity of getting some minutes has grown to increased minutes and someone we now count on and rely on. It’s good for him. I’m happy for him because he’s a guy that’s been to the minors a couple times and he gets called up and he gets an opportunity. He’s played terrific; he gets his first goal tonight. Lots of positives.”

Even from the bench, Kimmo Timonen can tell that Bourdon has not just promise, but the skills necessary to compete in the NHL.

“It’s one of those things that as an older guy you watch a lot of young guys coming into the league and these are the things you watch,” said Timonen. “If they can’t do that, it’s gonna be hard for them to have a long career, but once a guy makes good plays every time almost and position-wise he’s in the right spot.

“These are the things you can’t teach. It’s hockey sense and if you don’t have those things you’re not gonna play a really long time in the NHL, but these guys have them and he’s gonna have a long career I think.”

Bourdon, 22, would love to stick around. He says he feels good playing at the NHL level and that his time with the Phantoms has suited him well for this.

“I just feel more comfortable here because all the guys are in the right spot and everybody knows the system,” said Bourdon. “When I take the puck in the corner, I lift my head up and there’s always an outlet for me. I play with Matt Carle; he’s really smart. He always gives me good passes, always in a good position. I think it makes it easier.”

Bourdon made it easier on himself by coming to camp in better shape this year. He is listed at 6-foot, 206 pounds and is using it well. In years past, he didn’t look prepared to compete with his conditioning sub-par.

“I had a concussion last year and I finished the season in the East Coast [Hockey League],” Bourdon recalled. “I think that made me realize that you don’t have 17 chances like that in your life and I worked really hard this summer and I worked really hard down there too. I changed my practicing habit and I think it paid off.”

He had to wait two years, but in his third season since being drafted, Bourdon is finally seeing NHL action. Although Chris Pronger, Erik Gustafsson and Andreas Lilja played a role in why he’s up here, he’s proving to the Flyers that he’s capable of staying.

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