No pressure, but the Vancouver Canucks need Brock Boeser to step back into the line-up and get busy fast.
OK, maybe a little big of pressure. That’s the nature of it, with captain and leading goal scorer Bo Horvat out of the line-up for the foreseeable future. They’re different style players who play different positions, but stepping back into the line-up means stepping up in general for Boeser.
“It’s super exciting,” Boeser told the media Monday morning, “these are the games you play for all year and to be in this position says a lot about our group after the start we had. So it’s an exciting time for us and we’ve got to be prepared.”
Obviously it’s not all on him, but there are other players already ramping up offensively. Vasily Podkolzin’s confidence is at an all-time high with six points over his last four games and ice time regularly over 16-minutes a night.
JT Miller exploded for five points against a horrendous Arizona Coytoes club last Thursday night, and continues to be consistent with five points over the previous six games.
Elias Pettersson has exhibited greatness. While he’s piled up 13 points over the course of the last seven Canucks games, one could divide up any segment of the calendar over the last two months and come up with scoring.
Horvat was exhibiting similar confidence and mastery before a slapshot off his ankle from Arizona’s Anton Stralman ended his run.
It’s Boeser’s turn to re-join the party. In his fifth full season with Vancouver, he’s been inconsistent.
“To come back in this situation, it sucks, we’re going to miss Bo a lot, but it gives an opportunity for a lot of guys to step up and really show the character we have on this team,” Boeser said. “It’s a big opportunity and I need to produce and help us win games.”
Boeser was pointless in the four games leading up to his injury against the Vegas Golden Knights on April 3rd. He’ll be looked upon to contribute on the power play, although it may be on the second unit.
While Boeser typically operates from the left wing face-off circle, Podkolzin was the man taking one-timers from Horvat’s bumper spot during morning skate on Monday. Boeser was with the first unit towards the end of the session.
Energy winger Matthew Highmore also returns to the Canucks line-up, out since March 24th. He and Juho Lammikko and Tyler Motte made a name for themselves turning pucks over as a unit before Motte was moved to the New York Rangers at the trade deadline.
Monday morning Highmore was slotted on the ‘3rd line’ with Lammikko and Will Lockwood.
“We’re always going to have to keep our game simple,” Highmore said, “that’s just how we’re going to be successful. Getting pucks in behind their defence, making it challenging for them to get out of their own zone and when we do turn pucks over, let’s get it to the net quick and recover pucks, because that’s what we’re good at.”
Keeping it going might come down to the play of the men returning to the Vancouver Canucks line-up.