Bo Horvat’s three point night against Devils shows Canucks captain leading by example
Photo credit:Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
8 months ago
Bo Horvat has always been known as a big-game player. And with the Canucks’ playoff chances hanging in the balance, their captain has risen to the occasion.
Horvat’s 14 points in ten games are second only to J.T. Miller among Canucks players over that span, and last night against the Devils he took centre stage. Horvat put up a pair of goals and an assist in Vancouver’s 6-3 win over New Jersey, helping push the Canucks to within a point of the Vegas Golden Knights and the West’s final wild card spot.
Horvat’s play over the last few weeks is in stark contrast to his previous 34 game stretch where he potted just 16 points. While some people questioned his ability to recover from the scoring drought, Horvat stayed the course and knew the luck would find him.
“Things are going in and helping your team offensively, you feel good about yourself. But I don’t feel like I’ve changed my game a whole lot from the beginning of the year,” Horvat said after the game yesterday.
“Obviously I want to help my team whatever way I can and right now it’s been going in. Just got to keep that going rest of the year.”
Horvat’s ability to lead the scoring charge has never been more important, with Elias Pettersson currently out day-to-day with an upper-body injury. And yesterday, he proved that he could do so in more ways than one.
His first goal of the game midway through the second period was the result of dogged pressure on New Jersey’s Tomas Tatar in the Canucks’ zone. After forcing the Devils winger to circle back towards his own bench to protect the puck, Horvat pounced on Tatar’s backhand pass attempt near the blue line and was off to the races.
When asked about channelling his inner Thomas Vanek with the slap shot off the rush that trickled past goalie Nico Daws, Horvat was certain that it was the first wind-up goal of his career.
“I was kind of gassed at the end of the shift, and I knew I didn’t have enough strength to throw a good snapshot at [Daws]. So I wound up for it,” Horvat said.
“Everybody was chirping me in there saying it was maybe 66 miles an hour.”
If Horvat’s first goal was the result of dogged determination, his second was due to a pure mixture of strength and hockey IQ. With the Devils on the power play, Horvat started low in the slot area to prevent any high danger passes or shot attempts.
But as J.T. Miller and Quinn Hughes cornered the New Jersey puck carrier, Horvat bolted for the open lane behind the Devils defence. After Hughes fed him a crisp tape-to-tape pass, Horvat got a step ahead of defender Dougie Hamilton and ripped a vastly important shorthanded goal past backup netminder Jon Gillies.
Horvat’s thought process on the breakaway was simple. “Just get it away quick,” Horvat said. “It was Dougie Hamilton and he’s a pretty fast guy. We were kind of neck and neck there so I wanted to get it off before he got a stick on it. And thankfully I think it caught the goalie a little off guard.”
While teammates like Miller, Pettersson, and Thatcher Demko have deservingly garnered plenty of attention for their recent performance, Horvat’s night against the Devils earned a whole lot of praise from his head coach yesterday.
“He was a true leader tonight,” Bruce Boudreau said. “They were taken it to us pretty good until he scored the shorthanded goal, and then he got that goal to start the third period. I thought that on the bench, he was vocal.”
“He was a true captain tonight.”
And knowing Bo Horvat, he’s only just getting warmed up.
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