VANCOUVER – With Tuesday’s news that Brock Boeser’s season is over, it’s worth taking a few moments to consider the many highlights produced in his first full National Hockey League campaign.
As one who covers the team and was there to watch him play 62 times and score 29 goals, I was fortunate enough to witness one of the best rookie seasons in Vancouver Canucks history.
From his first career hat trick against the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins, to each of his six multi-goal performances, to his power-play prowess and to the ease with which he beat some of the best goaltenders in the world, Boeser made a name for himself and left his mark on the league.
Here are my top 5 Boeser goals from the 2017-18 season:
1) Goal 22 – Jan. 6 at Toronto Maple Leafs: There was just something about this one that stuck with me from the moment I saw it. The goal itself was routine by Boeser standards. A quick shot from his off-wing beat Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen. But the play he made to knock a strong clearing attempt out of mid-air to start the play captured everything there is to like about Boeser’s game. The hand-eye co-ordination was off the chart. To be able to bat the puck out of mid-air and keep the play alive was incredible. Thomas Vanek picks up the puck, moves to the middle of the ice and slides the puck back to Boeser who wastes no time ripping the puck into the back of the net. It came on a Saturday night in Toronto, with the eyes of the hockey world watching, and may have been his most complete game of the season as he went head-to-head with Auston Matthews.
2) Goal 18 – Dec. 19 vs. Montreal Canadiens: This was peak Boeser. On a third-period power play, Daniel Sedin centred the puck to a wide-open Boeser in the slot. From there it was Boeser against Carey Price – and the Canadiens goaltender stood no chance. Price came well out of the blue paint to challenge the shooter and Boeser just flat out snapped it past him high on the glove side. The goal came one game after Boeser had been injured against the Calgary Flames and his availability for the game against the Canadiens was in doubt. Instead, there was no doubt. The goal started a run of goals in four consecutive games.
3) Goal 29 – Feb. 28 vs. New York Rangers: It was the Flow vs. The King and Boeser won the battle (although the Rangers won the game). One of the things that made Boeser’s season so impressive was the calibre of goalies he scored on – Andersen, Price, Andrei Vasilevskiy, Jonathan Quick, Pekka Rinne, just to name a few – and on this night he scored twice against Henrik Lundqvist, a.k.a. The King. With time winding down, the Canucks trailing by a goal and the Vancouver net empty for an extra attacker, Boeser took a pass from Brendan Leipsic on his backhand. With absolutely no panic, he pulled the puck to his forehand and around the defender and just crushed The King on the short side with 45.9 remaining. It was his second goal of the game and ultimately the final goal Boeser scored this season.
4) Goal 11 – Nov. 22 at Pittsburgh Penguins: Boeser scored five of his 29 goals this season against the Penguins and the final one of those five was one of his best of the year. It was his second of the night and his fourth in a 24-hour-span after striking twice in Philadelphia the night before. So much of Boeser’s success comes from a lethal wrist shot, but anyone that watched video of him during his days at the University of North Dakota saw highlights of him blowing pucks past goalies with one-timers from the left circle. This goal might have been the hardest shot Boeser took all season. After the Canucks enter the Penguins zone, they work the puck to Alex Edler at the right point and he delivers a perfect pass into Boeser’s wheelhouse on the left side. Penguins goalie Matt Murray doesn’t even flinch as Boeser just rifled the puck past him.
5) Goal 12 – Nov. 30 at Nashville Predators: His first of two on the night, Boeser takes a feed from Bo Horvat as he moves in on the right wing. Using Predators defenceman Roman Josi as a screen, Boeser pulls the puck to the middle of the ice and absolutely rips a snap shot through the legs of Josi and past a screened Pekka Rinne. Did I mention it was Roman Josi and Pekka Rinne? There was no messing around here. Boeser was all business. It was a glorious combination of skill, finesse, subtlety, power and precision. He later added the game-winner as the Canucks capped a six-game road trip in style. Boeser’s big night in Music City was certainly music to the ears of Canucks fans.