- The Washington Times - Friday, September 7, 2007

Chris Bourque swooped in alone toward goaltender Olie Kolzig on Wednesday morning and snapped a shot past his outstretched glove for the second time in a span of few minutes.

There were 17 Washington Capitals players participating in an hour of drills and an hour of four-on-four play at Kettler Capitals Iceplex to prepare for the upcoming season, and Bourque certainly looked like he belonged.

Later Bourque tried to flip a backhanded pass to a teammate near the blue line that was intercepted and led to a breakaway at the other end. The 21-year old forward flashed both the ability that makes him one of the Caps’ top prospects and typical bouts of youthful inconsistency while practicing with a group that included returning players Chris Clark and Shaone Morrisonn and new additions Michael Nylander and Nicklas Backstrom.

“It’s been awesome. You get to skate with the guys you want to be playing with,” Bourque said. “It gives you a look at what it takes to play on this team and the caliber of players on this team and what you’re up against.”

Rookie camp begins tomorrow at Kettler, and the veterans start real practice one week from today, but this group of players has been working out at the practice facility in Arlington hoping to get a jumpstart on the new season.



The group grew to 19 yesterday with Matt Pettinger and Matt Bradley joining the session. The team’s television analyst, Craig Laughlin, directed drills for an hour before the four-on-four action lasted about 30 minutes.

Bourque was one of several players who stayed on the ice for an additional 20 to 30 minutes, getting in some additional skating work.

“I think this year is a big year for me,” Bourque said. “I think I made some big steps last year from my first year. I am going to do whatever it takes to make it but if not go down to Hershey and do my best down there and see what happens.”

Last season Bourque had 25 goals and 58 points in his second full season with Hershey, a marked improvement from eight tallies and 36 points the year before. He was Washington’s second-round pick in the 2004 draft and turned pro after one season at Boston University.

Though he stands only 5-foot-8, Bourque has produced at every level and even led Team USA with seven goals at the 2006 IIHF World Junior Championship. He is one of several young players who will be trying to crack a veteran-laden forward group.

“You want young players to emerge and make your team. They make your team better,” general manager George McPhee said. “Chris has done an excellent job with his development the last couple of years. The experience in the American [Hockey] League has been very good for him. The most important thing is his fitness level is good with NHL players now, and that was something he had to work on a few years ago.”

This is not Bourque’s first experience playing pick-up games with NHL veterans. He is the son of Hall of Fame defenseman Ray Bourque, and he spent much of his youth hanging out with his father’s teams in Boston and Colorado.

“I was at the rink all the time when my dad was playing,” Bourque said. “That was one of the best things about growing up was being at the rinks and being around that locker room atmoshere.”

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