CALGARY, AB -- Lance Bouma’s past two seasons couldn’t have been scripted more differently.
Last year, the Calgary Flames forward was limited to just three games for the Abbotsford Heat of the American Hockey League after sustaining a knee injury. He would miss the remainder of the season and would require two surgeries to repair his knee, one for his anterior cruciate ligament and another for his medial collateral ligament.
This season, Bouma came into training camp wanting to prove that he belonged in the NHL after suffering a serious injury the prior year.
“That was my goal coming in [to this season], to make the team,” said Bouma, drafted 78th overall in 2008 by the Flames. “That was all I was looking to do.”
He managed a lot more than that.
In his first full season as a member of the Calgary Flames, Bouma set career highs in almost every statistical category imaginable, including games played (78), goals (5), assists (10), points (15), penalty minutes (41), shorthanded goals (1) shots (82), and shooting percentage (6.1).
Needless to say, the 24-year-old’s first full season in the NHL was a satisfying one.
“I was happy with my year,” Bouma said. “Obviously there were some ups and downs, but for the most part I was pretty happy with it.”
The 6-foot-1, 210-pound forward also found a niche for himself on the Flames, endearing himself to fans and teammates alike with his shot-blocking prowess while on the penalty kill and even-strength.
Bouma finished tied for second amongst forwards League-wide in blocked shots this season with 87. Edmonton Oilers centre Boyd Gordon led the NHL’s forward group with 89.
He also filled all sorts of roles with the team this season, playing on all four lines throughout the year and earning ice at times on both special teams’ units and some rare four-on-four situations.
His increased role had much to do with the confidence from the coaching staff fronted by Bob Hartley. It had plenty to do with the confidence he had in himself, Bouma admitted.
“That is probably one of the biggest things,” he said.
But as much as he showed a marked improvement in 2013-14, Bouma’s attention heading into the offseason wasn’t one of internal reflection.
Much like his shot blocking prowess, Bouma’s focus is on how the team can improve heading into the 2014-15 campaign.
“It was a good year for us,” Bouma said. “We’re not where we want to be, but we did a lot of good things. We created an identity here, so it was a good year that way.
“If we continue working hard, we’ll be a tough team to play against and a tough team to win against.”
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