Slumping Bourque admits ‘it’s been a tough year’ in Montreal

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The numbers leading up to Rene Bourque’s healthy scratch versus Toronto on Saturday were pretty ugly — zero goals, zero points in 13 straight games.

On Monday, Bourque addressed his slump and overall effort to date.

“Not good, obviously,” he said, per the Canadian Press. “It’s been a tough year.”

If it wasn’t for the struggles of fellow Habs forward Daniel Briere, Bourque might be public enemy No. 1 in Montreal this season. (Heck,  might be anyway.) In the fourth of a six-year, $20 million deal, Bourque — a three-time 20-goal scorer — has just six tallies this season, none since scoring against New Jersey on Dec. 2.

Bourque missed seven games this year with an upper-body ailment, but Saturday’s absence was all about performance. Habs head coach Michel Therrien parked Bourque in favor of Finnish rookie Joonas Nattinen, who only played 1:45 in his NHL debut — and it appears Bourque received the message.

“Hopefully, it’s a wake-up call,” Bourque explained, “and I get back to playing my game and producing.”

It does look as though Bourque will return to the lineup on Wednesday in Pittsburgh. He took this morning’s line rushes with Briere and Brandon Prust on what appeared to be Montreal’s third unit.