Paterson’s Point: Further analyzing Brock Boeser’s red-hot start to the season
Photo credit:© Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports
1 month ago
All Brock Boeser wanted for Christmas last year was his sixth goal of the season. And fortunately for him, it arrived in a December 27th home game against the San Jose Sharks. But that doesn’t change the fact that Boeser went into the Vancouver Canucks’ brief holiday break a season ago stuck on just five goals.
Five measly goals in his first 25 games.
It was a wretched stretch that included an 11-game drought from the start of the season and such ineffectiveness at times that it nearly led to the indignity of being a healthy scratch in early December.
Fast forward a year, and Christmas has come early for the 26-year-old winger. Boeser scored his sixth goal in just his fifth game of this new National Hockey League season on Saturday in Sunrise, Florida. It was an empty netter that sealed the deal and allowed Boeser’s Canucks to beat the Florida Panthers 5-3.
Scoff all you want at the fact that it was ‘just’ an empty net goal. They all count the same, and with his perfectly placed slow roller from 150 feet against the Panthers, Boeser slept on a share of the NHL goal-scoring lead on Saturday night.
It’s been an incredible start including a four-goal game on opening night, but this isn’t really a column about the goals. He’s not going to score 100 this season despite being on that kind of early season pace.
No, it’s more about the fact Brock Boeser was out late in a game protecting and preserving a road victory against the Stanley Cup finalists on Saturday. It’s about the fact that he’s averaging seven seconds of ice time less than Elias Pettersson through five games.
It’s about the fact that he’s been on the ice now for seven goals for at even strength and only two against. And those goals, by the way, were off the sticks of Leon Draisaitl and Nikita Kucherov, two of the best of the best in the NHL. So Boeser is producing for the Canucks and doing it against the stiffest of competition. And it’s important to remember that this is a player that lugged around a -14 goal differential at evens last season – worst among all forwards on the team.
And it’s about Boeser, a volume shooter when he’s at his best, leading all Canuck forwards with 17 shots on goal so far.
Boeser has found himself in lockstep with linemates JT Miller and Phil Di Giuseppe with all three accepting and playing their roles perfectly. There have already been multiple examples of Miller and Di Giuseppe battling ferociously along the boards and freeing up pucks for Boeser the way they did for his goal on Thursday in Tampa Bay.
Everyone knows it was a dark season for Boeser a year ago and the reasons behind it have been well documented.
So it was note-worthy to hear him at training camp in September declare that after the loss of his father, all of the trade speculation that had dogged him and the multitude of injuries that have followed him around for too long now, he was finally at peace with everything in his life and was here to simply do what he loves to do – play hockey and have fun,
Boeser has six goals. He has points in four of the team’s five games so far. And most importantly, he’s contributed to all three of the Canucks’ victories in the early going on a team that has won more than it has lost.
Brock Boeser smiles and Vancouver Canucks victories – two things that have been in short supply for too long now.
For Boeser, it was one thing to claim he was at peace. After a disappointing season, he had lost some of the benefit of the doubt in this market that he could still play a leading role at this level.
So nearly a year removed from the lowest point of his professional career, to see Boeser back up his words, make good on his vow and play like he’s at peace is perhaps the biggest gift of all. It’s certainly better than anything that will be on his Christmas wish list this year.
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