‘I have high expectations. I love scoring goals and feel I’ve got to be that guy for this team. I feel like I can be a 30-plus scorer every year’
A picture can be worth 1,000 words.
However, when that adage is applied to the highly scrutinized Brock Boeser, it may take more prose to put career disappointments and achievements of the Vancouver Canucks’ winger into proper perspective.
What Boeser accomplished in a telling power-play sequence against Carey Price on Saturday at the Bell Centre is fodder for examination of the picture-perfect union of health, confidence, instinct, skill and will.
He was initially denied on his trademark heavy and accurate wrist shot when Price got a blocker on the bullet from 28 feet, but he then positioned himself for another chance a minute later. This time, Boeser went far side with a laser one-time slapper from 42 feet that beat the stunned stopper glove side.
Boeser celebrated with a slight fist pump and a little grin of self-satisfaction.
“I had enough time to get away the one-timer. and it was just off instinct and I didn’t even think about it,” Boeser recalled Monday following the game-day skate. “It’s been a little bit of a different year because I knew I had to be better and score more and it’s been going well, to say the least.
“I need to not worry about the points and just keep bringing a high compete level and the chances will come.”
The Saturday snipe was the winger’s 16th of the season and pulled him into a tie for ninth in National Hockey League goal scoring. It also raised his shooting accuracy to an eye-popping 20 per cent, tops among top 10 gunners. And in pro-rating his production through a normal 82-game season, he is on pace for a career-high 37 goals and 75 points.
In his first 35 games, Boeser has already equalled his goal output through 57 games last season. He struggled in the 2019-20 campaign with a 9.5 shooting percentage, learning to play a more responsible two-way game, suffering a February rib cartilage injury and a 12-game goal drought when the season was paused March 12 by the coronavirus pandemic.
“Last year was pretty frustrating in that sense and I feel like I can be a 30-plus scorer every year,” said Boeser.
What’s happening now can help propel the Canucks to beat long odds and keep a playoff position within sight. Boeser’s 16 goals have been split between home and the road. And what looks so effortless in those Boeser blasts is actually the combination of work on the ice, in the gym and with the training staff.
Better preparation has helped alleviate soreness from a back injury that ended his rookie season and lingering soreness from a wrist ailment.
“Practise always helps to hit the puck in the right spot on your blade, but it’s how I feel about my body and the rotation I’ve got,” added Boeser. “It wasn’t great turning to the left and it’s definitely more free now. It helps with a lot of stuff behind the scenes with treatments and staying on top of things.
“I feel good and my lower left side feels good and it’s been great so far. I know my body more than I ever have; it’s definitely a benefit.”
Boeser was a Calder Trophy consideration when felled by a freak back injury when hit into an open door at the bench at Rogers Arena on March 5, 2018. The following season started with a groin injury that morphed into an adductor muscle strain — an acute injury to the groin muscles on the medial aspect (inside) of the thigh.
It’s why taking care of his health has been Job 1. From carefree rookie to savvy veteran, it has been quite the journey.
“I have a list of things I need to do before each practice and game to make sure I’m staying on top of things and there’s definitely a lot behind it,” said Boeser. “In my first year, I was always kind of confused by guys going in for treatment and I’ve been talking to the younger guys about taking care of their bodies because the season gets long with a lot of games.”