Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

At 33, Bourque's Chances to Win Cup Are Running Out

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

At 33, Bourque's Chances to Win Cup Are Running Out

Article excerpt

When Raymond Bourque suffered a sprained medial collateral ligament in his right knee March 22 against Quebec, he tried to look on the bright side.

As is the nature of the Boston Bruins captain, who tries to find the positive in any situation, he knew he would be out for the rest of the regular season, but he figured the rest would do him good. When he came back, he'd be refreshed and hungry against the Montreal Canadiens in the postseason.

As hard as he tried, though, the Bourque whose caliber of play in the regular season would make him worthy of his fifth Norris Trophy as the NHL's best defenseman was different than the Bourque of these playoffs. And he and everyone else knew it.

"You have to try to have something to look forward to," said Bourque, who saw his 15th NHL season end Wednesday night in a 5-3 loss to the New Jersey Devils in Game 6. "I knew physically, restwise, I'd be all right. In the first part of the Montreal series, I really didn't know how I was going to feel and how I was going to react. For the first few games, it was tough, and it was scary going out there. But I got through that and I was feeling better and better as it went on.

"In this series, I hardly felt it. Against Montreal, I'd tweak it and hurt it a few times a game. This series it was feeling good. But just that half-step that I kind of lost from all that time and wearing a brace. You're not as comfortable as you would've liked. But that's no excuse."

For Bourque's money, it was a matter of the Bruins being beaten by a good, and yes, better team.

"We worked hard and gave ourselves a chance to win," he said. "They've got guys who have been around, some veterans who know how to play the game. They make it tough on you. You have to earn everything you get. That's what beat us, their team defense. Right now they're probably a better team. They're deeper, through their whole lineup."

Yet, Bourque felt maybe a few changes in the variables either way could've meant a different end to this season.

"It could've been a much different series," he said. "It was kind of weird. We won the first two games where we didn't play all that great and came out with two wins. …

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