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Paterson’s Point: Canucks’ Boeser counting down days to first Rogers Arena playoff game of his career

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Photo credit:© Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Paterson
18 days ago
Like all professional athletes, Brock Boeser is conditioned to live in the moment and not to look past the next game or the next opponent. But as he nears the end of his seventh full season and with 469 National Hockey League regular season games under his belt, the usually stoic Boeser concedes he can sense it. He can feel it. The veteran forward knows that this season has been different and that this year there will be more hockey to come beyond Game 82. 
While his Vancouver Canucks have not yet mathematically clinched a Stanley Cup Playoff berth, with 98 points and just 11 games remaining on their schedule, a post-season berth most certainly awaits.
And for Boeser and many of his teammates that will mean a first true taste of playoff hockey at this level. He participated in the 2020 bubble playoffs during COVID with no travel, no fans and none of the energy that makes Stanley Cup hockey the spectacle it is. So while his statistics show he’s appeared in 17 ‘playoff’ contests, the Burnsville, MN native knows he really hasn’t had full exposure to everything that makes the chase for the Cup so special.
“Oh jeez, I feel like we have to take it like we just haven’t been in the playoffs to be honest,” Boeser said after practice this week. “It’s so much different when there are fans in the stands. Other guys that have played in the playoffs talk about the momentum changes and how loud buildings get. So I’m sure that plays a key role and we didn’t have that in the bubble. It was quiet. There was momentum, but it wasn’t like it was people screaming and it’s chaotic. You could stay pretty calm in that scenario.”
For Boeser, an NCAA national champion at North Dakota and a 2015 first round draft pick, who was a runner-up for NHL Rookie of the Year and has twice appeared at the All Star game, it’s been a career of high level accomplishments and experiences. However, due to a lack of overall team success during his time in Vancouver, he has yet to play a playoff game at Rogers Arena.
Long overdue, that’s about to change in the next month. And Boeser can not wait for that playoff payoff.
“I think that’s what has driven us to this point just thinking about it,” he said. “We’ve heard so many stories of playoff games here and how crazy the fans get. I don’t know what it’s like, but what I try to picture is when we play Toronto and it kind of gets that crazy. This place can rock and that’s why I’m so excited to see it in playoffs. I think the fans are going to help us a lot with momentum and getting us into the games.”
Boeser has heard the crowd explode on more than a few occasions this season. Among them, when Quinn Hughes scored in overtime to help the Canucks beat the Islanders in November. He referenced the atmosphere when the Canucks jumped out to a 3-0 lead on Toronto. He was part of a furious comeback to beat Columbus in a game in which Boeser reached the 30-goal mark for the first time in his NHL career and then set up Elias Pettersson for the overtime winner. And most recently, Boeser scored in OT to help the Canucks beat Boston 3-2 last month.
So he has felt the building shake, but won’t truly grasp what takes the playoff atmosphere to the next level until he experiences it for himself.
And while there are 11 games remaining – including the final three on the team’s current nine game homestand – Boeser can sense that big things are just around the corner.
“I think the finish line – you can start to feel it now,” he explained. “Just saying 11 games left, it’s crazy. So I’m starting to feel the excitement.”
Part of that is that Boeser understands the assignment. He knows that when the playoffs begin all the off the team accomplishments and individual accolades are placed in the past. The chase for the Stanley Cup is a new proving ground. The 16 teams that qualify all line up in the starting blocks and begin their quest for the championship. And for Boeser that will mean building off the successes he and the Canucks have had, but being ready to assert himself all over again.
“I’m really excited because I feel like we’ve proven a lot of people wrong during the regular season and I think you have to have that same mindset going into the playoffs,” he said. “I think we’re a hungry group and with the right mindset and right determination we could do something in the playoffs.”
After seven long years of waiting, Boeser won’t have to wait much longer. The Stanley Cup playoffs begin in the third week of April. That means he and his Canucks teammates are now just weeks away from finding out for themselves what the full playoff experience is all about.

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