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Paterson’s Point: a cold-stretch or cause for concern? Boeser’s dream season hits first snag as sniper struggles to find goal-scoring form

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Photo credit:James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Paterson
4 months ago
Brock Boeser will score again. Of that, there is no doubt. He’s too talented, and he’s come too far this season not to be heard from again.
But for the first time in what has been a dream season for both Boeser and his Vancouver Canucks, some red flags are emerging about the frequency of the winger’s finishing. Boeser has not scored in seven games since the All Star break and has found the back of the net in just one of the Canucks last 14 games. 
Now, to be fair, the last time he scored, he scored three times in a wild 5-4 overtime comeback victory against the Columbus Blue Jackets on January 27th. That was the night the Burnsville, MN native became a 30-goal scorer for the first time in his National Hockey League career. 
And before we get too far down the road, yes, it’s true he had an empty net goal called back against Detroit on Thursday. But this isn’t about Boeser chipping in with the occasional empty netter. This is about the Canucks leading goal-scorer getting his groove back, looking dominant and making teams pay during the run of play.
With 30 goals on the season, Boeser has been a huge part of the Canucks’ overall success this season. Despite his slowdown, he still leads the team in goals and in power play goals.
And the Canucks will be counting on him to do the same come playoff time. And that’s where some concern is creeping in right now.
After Saturday’s 4-2 loss to Winnipeg, Boeser’s goal drought is up to a season-high seven games. He can get away with that in the dog days of the schedule. But he can’t afford to go seven-game stretches without scoring in the post-season. That simply can’t happen.
And if it was just these past seven games, you’d call it a cold stretch, and Boeser would most definitely deserve the benefit of the doubt. But it was the six games before the Columbus comeback. It was a five-game run between December 23rd and January 8th. More than anything, it’s the fact that a once red-hot Boeser has scored in just three of the Canucks last 22 games now.
This is a player who had 24 goals in 35 games and was second only league-wide to Auston Matthews at Christmas. Since then, he is tied for fifth on his own team in goal-scoring and is tied for 83rd in the league with six goals. A volume shooter when at his best, Boeser has just 13 shots on goal over the past seven games, and five of those came on Saturday night.
At one time this season, there was talk of a 50-goal campaign, and the numbers made it impossible to rule it out. Certainly, 40 seemed like a foregone conclusion. But Boeser has been sitting on 30 for three weeks now (with the bye week and All Star break included). He’s still on pace for 44 on the season but needs to find the range again soon, or that projection will take a significant hit, too. 
Now, it is a team game, and Boeser generally doesn’t create offence on his own. He needs others to get him the puck in the right places, and JT Miller doesn’t have an assist since the All Star break. Quinn Hughes has just two helpers in the last six games and Elias Pettersson has been too quiet on too many nights of late. So much of that can be chalked up to a power play that is an odorous 0 for 19 over its past six outings.
A dozen of Boeser’s 30 goals have come with the man-advantage. And many of those were scored at the net front. For some reason, the Canucks have Boeser set up on the left half-wall right now rather than putting him in the place where he has shown a ruthless ability to convert. So that’s something the coaching staff ought to look at – put a player like Boeser in the best place to succeed.
Over this season – and really throughout his career – Boeser has shown himself to be a streaky scorer, and through the Canucks first 56 games, he has a four-goal night, two other hattricks and five two-goal games. So he’s just as likely to score a couple the next time he gets one. And perhaps his fortunes turn as early as Monday afternoon in his home state of Minnesota. 
Whatever the case, the Canucks need Boeser to rediscover his scoring touch and his consistency. He looked unstoppable earlier in the season, and he has to find a way to regain some of that form. It would be a shame for him to have the best regular season of his career only to go quiet at crunch time.

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