The Canucks’ hard-fought 7-6 win over the Colorado Avalanche on November 2nd was a thrilling game for Canucks fans to watch. It was particularly gratifying, as the team’s two young superstars, Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser, led the way with five and four-point nights, respectively.
For Brock Boeser, it was the third time in his career he put up four points in a game, which had to be a good feeling. Unfortunately, it wasn't such a good feeling for his lower body.
Boeser hasn’t played for the Canucks since that win over the Avalanche and the team has been in a downward spiral without him. They’re 2-7-2 in those 11 games without Boeser and the Canucks’ offence has been hit-or-miss without him. The Canucks’ lines have been frequently put into a blender without Boeser as a top-line option on the right wing.
Now, however, Brock Boeser’s back.
After joining the team in a full practice on Monday, Boeser was back on the ice for Tuesday’s optional game day skate and was happy with the results.
“Getting in your first practice, you don’t know how it’s going to feel the next day,” said Boeser after confirming he would be in the lineup against the Los Angeles Kings. “It felt pretty good waking up this morning and it felt really good out there this morning, so I feel I’m ready to go.”
According to Boeser, he’s back at full health, as he and the team took their time to make sure he was 100%.
“This is a lot different than last time,” he said. “ I feel the best I’ve felt in a while, just with everything. Hips down, I feel really confident within myself. I feel I’m going to be able to move a lot better out there than before.”
That was the biggest concern with Boeser’s game early in the season. Overall, he was lacking power in his stride and wasn’t getting to pucks as quickly as his rookie year. Being slower to pucks can have a deleterious effect on the rest of a player’s game, as it gives him fewer opportunities with the puck and less time and space to make plays when he does have the puck.
For Boeser, the primary concern was knowing exactly what was wrong and how to make it right.
“It’s tough when you have that same pain that doesn’t go away,” he said. “I think that was one of my main issues, I wanted to know what was wrong and make sure it’s not something serious, so I have to miss a lot of time. We did that and I felt that the medical staff took all the right steps to really know what the injury was and fix all the problems it was causing.”
Despite the extended time missed, Boeser has no regrets about playing through the injury earlier in the season.
“No, it was progressing in the right direction and I was feeling good going into that Colorado game,” he said. “You can tweak things at any time in games and unfortunately I tweaked it there. It sucked, but I’m glad I figured out what was wrong and I feel a lot better now.”
The addition of Boeser to the lineup gives the Canucks more options offensively. He’s expected to reunite with Nikolay Goldobin and Elias Pettersson on the first line, bumping Jake Virtanen down to a two-way third line with Loui Eriksson and Markus Granlund.
That could change before or during the game, however, as putting Boeser back with Bo Horvat is a solid option. Sam Gagner is expected to start on Horvat’s line.
Most importantly, Boeser should provide a boost to the first power play unit. While the Canucks have managed to score on the power play without Boeser in the lineup, clicking along at a near league-average 19.5%, it will help immensely to have another scoring threat on the left side to balance out Pettersson’s threat from The PetterZone.
It’s not just that Boeser can score goals from the left faceoff circle, though he did tie for the team lead in power play goals last season with 10, but that his presence opens up passing and shooting lanes for the rest of the team. Theoretically, the Canucks’ first power play unit should be significantly more dangerous with Boeser on the ice.
As The Angels sang back in the 60’s, “He's been gone for such a long time, now he's back and things'll be fine.”