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A brief history of the 30-goal curse that Brock Boeser just broke

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Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Stephan Roget
23 days ago
All good things must come to an end. And all bad things, too.
A year and a few months ago, this author published an article on this website entitled “A brief history of Brock Boeser not being able to catch a break.”
At the time, Boeser had just suffered a hand injury in the midst of Training Camp 2023, one that would ultimately require surgery and force him to miss the first few weeks of the 2022/23 season.
It was Boeser’s fifth of sixth seasons running with an early- or preseason injury, and much of the article centred around that frustrating history of missed time. But baked right into the narrative was the “30-goal curse” that it sure seemed as though Boeser was suffering from.
Until now.
Boeser’s hat trick on Saturday against the Columbus Blue Jackets didn’t just cap off a comeback for the Vancouver Canucks, it also marked goals number #28, #29, and #30 on the 2023/24 campaign for Boeser. If there ever was a curse, it’s all over now.
Which makes us a lot more comfortable talking about it, strangely enough.
The curse really began, as so many curses do, with Cal Clutterbuck.
Boeser, of course, arrived in the NHL in force, scoring four goals in a nine-game audition back in 2017. It was a roughly 40-goal pace, and most thought that couldn’t realistically continue for long…but it did, well into Boeser’s official rookie campaign of 2017/18.
On February 28, 2018, Boeser scored goals #28 and #29 against the New York Rangers, and then two games later ran into Clutterbuck, and then into Vancouver’s open bench gate, literally breaking his back and ending his season one goal short of the 30-goal mark.
No matter, though. Having come so close as a rookie, surely Boeser would hit the mark several times over in the years to come.
Except that’s not how it went down.
The 2018/19 season kicked off with a lingering groin issue that would limited Boeser to just two goals through October and then shut him down for the bulk of November. After the slow start, Boeser bounced back enough to hit 26 goals in 69 games as a sophomore, helping Elias Pettersson earn the Calder Trophy that Boeser could not, but still falling well short of that 30-goal milestone.
At about this point, the “when is Boeser going to finally hit 30 goals?” narrative began.
Boeser opened the 2019/20 campaign with a preseason concussion. Another slow start ensued, but Boeser managed to turn it around by the end of October, heating up and staying heated for a couple of months. By January 11, 2020, Boeser had hit 16 goals in 45 games, which was pretty much right on the nose of a 30-goal pace.
Then he went goalless in 11 straight, and then he suffered a rib injury in February 2020. That was supposed to keep Boeser out for eight weeks, but he made it back in a little over a month, making his comeback on March 10, 2020.
That, naturally, was the Canucks’ final game before the league shut down as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 2020/21 campaign was about as curse-free as it could have been for Boeser. He stayed healthy for the first time in his career, and he even wound up leading the team in goals with 23 and points with 49 through 56 games.
But those 56 games were the sum total of the truncated regular season. A pace of 23 goals in 56 games is good for approximately 33 goals across a full 82-game schedule, but this was not a full 82-game schedule, and so Boeser did not hit the mark.
And in 2022/23, the curse was back in full force. Another preseason injury. His first goal on the season wouldn’t come until November 18, 2022. Then, two months after that, a bout with COVID. Then another injury in April.
The final result was Boeser’s second season of 23 goals in a row, albeit this one in 71 games, which is a fair bit off from a 30-goal pace.
And Boeser’s pace would only plummet from there. That aforementioned preseason hand injury led to Boeser opening the 2022/23 season going goalless in 11 straight. He wouldn’t score his first goal until November 18, 2022, and the droughts continued through an eight-game goalless streak in January, followed by six-gamers in February and March.
Boeser finished with just 18 goals in 74 games, easily the most disappointing campaign of his career to date. If there was an upside, it was that hardly anyone mentioned the 30-goal curse this time around, probably because Boeser didn’t even come close to hitting it.
And maybe that’s all that was needed for the curse to be broken.
Or maybe it was up to Boeser to break it himself.
He didn’t wait long to start chasing 30 goals when the 2023/24 broke ground. He notched four goals in the season opener against Edmonton on October 11, 2023, and was already at ten goals by November 6.
He didn’t really slow down thereafter until about mid-January. This month saw Boeser hit his longest goalless streak of the year at six games, leaving him stuck on goal #27. And though few were willing to speak it into existence, many had to be wondering if the old curse was back in action.
Well, so much for that.
Saturday night proved to be a fine night for an exorcism, and as the hats rained down on the Rogers Arena ice, they commemorated a four-fold celebration. The capping of a comeback for the Vancouver Canucks. The third hat trick of the season for Boeser. For the first time ever, the 30-goal milestone.
And the end of a curse that had haunted Boeser for the past seven years.

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