During the first few weeks of the season Chris Bourque seemed to be slightly behind the pace of NHL play, which wasn’t the least bit surprising to the Bruins brass.

The B’s were aware that a player with only 33 previous games of NHL experience — spread out over several seasons and with limited ice time — was not likely to be in peak form at the outset. General manager Peter Chiarelli and coach Claude Julien stressed that they were going to remain patient with a young left winger who obviously brought a strong skill set and work ethic to the rink.

In recent games, that patience has been rewarded, with Bourque looking more and more comfortable and confident — and making some valuable contributions. In Sunday’s 4-1 road win against the Florida Panthers, Bourque’s rush up ice and pass to Daniel Paille led to Chris Kelly’s power-play goal that gave the Bruins a 3-1 lead.

“His skill set is getting better because he’s getting more comfortable, more confident with his teammates and with what we’re trying to do,” Julien said after the team’s brief skate at Nassau Coliseum yesterday. “He’s feeling his way through it and I see improvement in him game after game.”