The Ducks' endless search for a left wing to complement Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry looped back on itself during Saturday's practice when Coach Bruce Boudreau auditioned Rene Bourque in that spot. Boudreau had put Bourque there earlier this season but the experiment was cut short when Perry was injured.
"It seems like an eternal search, doesn't it?" Boudreau said of the puzzle that predates his arrival on Nov. 30, 2011.
Bourque, acquired from Montreal on Nov. 20, was a healthy scratch the last two games. In 30 games, the 6-foot-2, 214-pound winger has two goals and seven points and a team-worst minus-10 defensive rating.
"We have a lot of depth on this team. We have a lot of numbers up front," Bourque said Saturday. "Bruce said it was my turn to sit and I'd have to wait for my chance to get back in. I think there's a lot of guys that are fighting to stay in the lineup and that creates good competition. I want to be better. Hopefully with these guys I can show that."
Perry said Bourque has assets that can make this work.
"He's a big body and he's going to go to the net and he's going to chase down pucks. And he can shoot it," Perry said. "So if we can get back to our cycle game and be confident in going to the net and hunting pucks down, it's going to be effective. It doesn't matter who we play with. We have a lot of guys that are the same type of player and it doesn't matter who plays there."
As Getzlaf noted, it's more common for NHL teams to keep pairs of forwards together than trios. How can Bourque make this trio succeed? "He's got to go out and skate," Getzlaf said. "He can fly down that wing if you get him the puck. Obviously, he's a big body so we need him to throw some hits and create some space."
This isn't necessarily a last chance for Bourque. As Boudreau noted, the Ducks kept Bourque over Dany Heatley, who was waived and is playing for minor league Norfolk, and they still like Bourque. Boudreau praised Bourque's energy Saturday. "He hasn't been too bad for us at all," Boudreau said.
Here's his chance to be good. "First off, I've got to make sure I'm on my game, and that's moving my feet and playing physical," Bourque said. "I'm going to be trying to get loose pucks for them and going to the net. I think they're trying to find somebody to stick on that line, so obviously I want to try and take advantage of it."
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Etc.: Ducks winger Patrick Maroon was hit in the face during practice Saturday and left the ice early. A club official said Maroon is likely to play Sunday if team trainers clear him. The Predators took over the Central Division lead Saturday with a 7-6 overtime victory over the Kings at Staples Center. "I see the work ethic that they've had in the past, and now they've added a different dimension to the game, being aggressive offensively," Boudreau said. "They're a very tough team to play against."