74 GP: 2 G, 6 A, 8 Pts, 61 PIM, +9, 60 Shots
Career best year – 2005-06
67 GP: 3 G, 19 A, 22 Pts, 34 PIM, -6, 75 Shots
7 GP: 1 G, 2 A, 3 Pts, 4 PIM, E, 10 Shots
Career best playoffs – 2005-06
6 GP: 1 G, 2 A, 3 Pts, 10 PIM, E, 15 Shots
Plays of the game: 1
Game pucks: 1
3 Star selections: 2 Second, 1 Third
Where he started the season
Bouillon was coming off a sub-par season and there were questions all around about whether he would even make the team. Our team was deep in defensive prospects and we had also made a couple of off season defensive acquistions, so the possibility of Francis not even making the team may have been slim, but existed noetheless. It probably hadn't helped that his defensive partner the year before had been Dandenault, a player who should no longer even be in the NHL. A career worst -10 rating after playing a full season with Dandy was forgiven in the end as Carbo and co. saw like we all did - Dandenault was the problem. The decision to move Mat to wing and give Bou a new partner was made with a 'we'll see how this works' mentality as it was quite a different type of move.
The season didn't start too well for Bouillon, and he had a lot of people thinking that he had lost that flare. We all know what had made Francis special in the past: it was his hitting, his mobility and his no-fear attitude. Unfortunately, it seemed like all of those talents were fading and I thought we were seeing the defensive version of the Steve Begin story. In his first 14 games, he had 0 points and was -2. But, even worse, beyond the numbers he was not making an immediate impact in the games.
Then, something very fortuitous happened, the team realized that Gorges was a good defenceman. Josh had been seeing a whole lot of the press-box wallpaper during the early stages of the seaosn in favour of good old Breeze-by. That is, until someone had enough. Gorges' play (when he got a chance) was too good to ignore and so he earned a regular spot on the blue line. Bouillon would have the good fortune of being paired with Josh for the remainder of the season in a move that likely saved Bou's career. He would be best described as an impact player from there on in. In his last 60 games, he was +11, ending the year at a career high +9 – as he became a reliable player once again in his own end (this represented a 19 point improvemnet from his -10 of the previous year). As his confidence came back, so too did his offence as he posted all of his 11 points (playoffs included) in his last 55 games. Those numbers aren't staggering, but are a world apart from 0 in 26.
Highlights: We can forgive the French rap if he times his hits like the ones in this video.
Bouillon by the numbers: Canadiens.com
Lions' links on Bouillon:
The trouble with 8
Francis turned a bad start into another solid season. So many people were quick to jump on the old bandwagon as they yelled that he was just too small for the NHL. I for one am glad that he was able to once again prove so many people wrong about the size thing. If I was an opposing forward trying to sneak along the boards, Bou is one of the last faces I would want to see. He played well in the playoffs and even managed a goal. I wouldn't say that he elevated his game in April, but he was maybe just one of 2 or 3 that didn't tank it in those two series. He found a nice spot on our 3rd pairing this year and seems very content as a #5 or #6 guy. It is nice for both us and him that we no longer need him to be our #3.
Where we'd have him next season
Francis is signed to a reasonable contract (1.9) for one more year so he will be back in September. With the loss of Streit, Bou temporarily moves up to our #4b guy, but I wouldn't be surprised if we added another blueliner before the season opens. Hopefully next year he will be permitted to do what he did for us so well this year - play a simple game. We don't need big minutes or PP time from Francis, we just need good, solid defensive play and quality penalty-killing. I think that last year Carbo discovered exactly what Bou's game is, so, hopefully come October he will be allowed to go back to playing the way he did this year.