Michael Bournival has been one of the biggest and brightest surprises of the Montreal Canadiens season. Coming into training camp, not many believed that he would make the team but after a brilliant preseason, the 21-year-old found himself with a ticket to Montreal. After a strong start to the regular season the Canadiens coaching staff was telling him to find permanent accommodations in the city.
With six goals and seven assists in 50 games, mostly on the fourth line, he’s produced some solid numbers for a rookie. As well his speed, tenacity, and grit have provided a real spark for the team at times.
Unfortunately, Bournival suffered a concussion in a February 6th game against Vancouver, and has not been in an NHL game since. Earlier this week Bournival was sent to the AHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs on a three-game/six-day conditioning stint. He has helped the Bulldogs to two straight wins picking up an assist in Wednesday’s win over Abbotsford and two goals in last night’s win over Milwaukee.
We were able to catch up with Bournival after the game to get his thoughts on recent events.
On his play since his return to action, Bournival said, “I still think there are areas of my game that I can improve, especially defensively. I’m going to work on that tomorrow.”
“We were in the gym everyday (too), working on my conditioning.”
“I worked hard when I was injured and skated almost every day with the team’s training staff. My game shape is there, but on the ice I need to improve and be a little sharper.”
Bournival also spoke about being put at left wing and being centred by Sven Andrighetto, who played his first two pro games as a centre this week, “We have good chemistry together and it makes a good line. My entire life I’ve played both (centre and wing) with swithching during the year so I’m used to (switching).”
“Its been good for us to get the big win and hopefully another tomorrow.”
Bournival’s second goal on the night came on a penalty shot. After being hooked on a breakaway Bournival made no mistake beating Marek Manzanec low on the blocker side.
“I think I was 0 for 6 on shootouts so far, so it was nice to score on the penalty shot.”
We also caught up with coach Sylvain Lefebvre who joked that he would ask Montreal to let him keep Bournival before again saying that the rule means that Saturday will be Bournival’s last with Hamilton. He went on to say, “We’re happy he can get his game back and he can help us get points and keep the (playoff) hopes alive.”
“He’s an energy player, he skates really fast and he works hard. He never stops working and he’s a good guy to have around. Everybody loves him. He’s a quiet guy who goes about his business and comes to play.”
Lefebvre also indicated that he was happy with Sven Andrighetto’s play at centre and plans to keep the Swiss rookie there. While the AHL doesn’t keep official faceoff stats, the team’s numbers showed him only a little under 50% so far.
The Dogs face Abbotsford tonight in another must win game for the team.
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