The Boeser era be­gins in earnest

Rookie for­ward breathes life into lacklustre Canucks power play in sea­son de­but

The Province - - SPORTS - Ja­son Botch­ford jbotch­ford@post­media.com twit­ter.com/botch­ford

The Van­cou­ver Canucks lost their sec­ond straight in Brock Boeser’s sea­son de­but. This one was a 4-2 win by the Win­nipeg Jets, who scored three straight goals in the first and sec­ond pe­ri­ods.

What fol­lows is what we learned.

Canucks are go­ing to need more from the Hor­vat line

Three games in and Van­cou­ver’s best line has the Sedins on it and its most con­sis­tent goal-scorer is Chris Tanev. To para­phrase John Tor­torella, this is good for the Sedins and Tanev, but not the Canucks.

This year’s team is sup­posed to be tran­si­tion­ing from the dark and drab fi­nal chap­ter of Wil­lie Des­jardins to a brighter fu­ture, one with more of­fence and, in turn, en­ter­tain­ment.

To ac­com­plish that, the 37-yearold Sedins are go­ing to need some help. That help is go­ing to have to come from a line with Bo Hor­vat on it and prob­a­bly Sven Baertschi.

Those are the two play­ers the Canucks need to take the big­gest steps this sea­son and both were held in check Thurs­day by the Jets.

Mark­strom de­serves a long leash in net

Be­fore the game against the Jets, the best guess had An­ders Nils­son get­ting his first start on Oct. 20, when the Canucks play the sec­ond of back-to-back games in Buf­falo.

That could change, but it prob­a­bly shouldn’t.

Ja­cob Mark­strom was never af­forded the op­por­tu­nity un­der the for­mer head coach to de­velop what just about any goalie needs for sus­tained suc­cess: A rhythm. He should be given that op­por­tu­nity now. The Canucks should show him this year will be dif­fer­ent. They should show him they be­lieve in him.

Re­ally good in his first two starts, he was not in the third. It shouldn’t all fall on him. The Canucks strug­gled to con­tain the Jets at­tack, which is go­ing to hap­pen more than a cou­ple of times this sea­son

That said, for the third straight game Mark­strom was beat for a goal that was op­ti­cally ugly. This time it was a sharp-an­gled Tyler My­ers shot that slipped by him. But Mark­strom was deal­ing with a 2-on-1 and My­ers’ shot was ridicu­lously good.

Boeser made a big dif­fer­ence and did so im­me­di­ately

His­tory will de­cide who was right. The fans who so des­per­ately wanted Boeser to start the sea­son on the ice or the coach who wanted to wait pa­tiently for the right spot for the rookie.

On Thurs­day, both looked right. Boeser breathed life into the corpse that is the Canucks’ power play. Bad for years, it did not look im­proved un­der new head coach Travis Green.

In two games, it was 1-for-11. That pe­riod of time, of course, will now be re­ferred to as “Be­fore Boeser.”

Be­cause it took all of one power play for him to change the dy­namic. Tak­ing a pass from Thomas Vanek, Boeser didn’t panic high in the slot. With time, he re­laxed the puck and fired a ter­rific shot, cre­at­ing a re­bound for Daniel Sedin to bang into the net.

Yes, he had the type of time and space play­ers rarely see in the NHL. But there was a lot of pres­sure on Boeser in this game. He’d been the story not only here, but na­tion­ally. He could have un­der­stand­ably been anx­ious and rushed his shot. He did not.

In a sec­ond pe­riod power play, Boeser got off another NHL-cal­i­bre shot.

For years, the Canucks have lacked some­one on their power play who can shoot like that. It sure looks like they have that some­one now.

It’s Pouliot time

The Canucks had been look­ing for a game to start the newly ac­quired, puck-mov­ing de­fence­man. It doesn’t seem like they have to look any­more.

At­tempt­ing to rub out Mark Scheifele along the boards, Alex Edler twisted up his legs, left the game and never re­turned.

There had been dis­cus­sion about who Der­rick Pouliot would re­place in the lineup. One of the can­di­dates was Troy Stecher, who played just 3:45 in Thurs­day’s first pe­riod and 14:32 for the game.

But maybe that doesn’t mean Stecher can breathe easy. He has the skill set to thrive in the new sys­tem, but so far that hasn’t hap­pened.

Boeser has the per­son­al­ity to han­dle Van­cou­ver’s mar­ket

Cri­sis? What cri­sis?

The hy­per­bolic panic which ap­peared to en­gulf Van­cou­ver like a provincewide fog when Boeser didn’t play the first two games just rolled off the 20-year-old.

This is a player whose dad has Parkin­son’s dis­ease, a player who lost a good friend in a fa­tal car ac­ci­dent.

Not play­ing a cou­ple of games to start his rookie NHL sea­son is least in com­par­i­son.

“I guar­an­tee you he just used the whole sit­u­a­tion as mo­ti­va­tion. He’s a pretty ma­ture kid, he’s been through a lot in his life,” said Troy Stecher, Boeser’s team­mate now and when they were at the Uni­ver­sity of North Dakota.

“This is one of those times where I just told him to re­late this to life. You’ve over­come so much if you don’t just look at the hockey part.

“It’s pretty re­mark­able how far he’s come.”

— GETTY IM­AGES

Win­nipeg Jets for­ward Shawn Matthias fires a shot at Canucks goalie Ja­cob Mark­strom Thurs­day at Rogers Arena as the host Canucks lost 4-2 to Win­nipeg in Brock Boeser’s sea­son de­but. The rookie Boeser as­sisted on Daniel Sedin’s game-open­ing goal.

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