Boeser’s winning strike not enough to earn him China ticket
VANCOUVER 4 LOS ANGELES 3 (OT)
LOS ANGELES — The Brock Boeser hype train has left the building and all it took was two words: “That release.”
How good was it? If the Chinese saw it, their government would be chartering a flight right now to get him there for this week’s 2017 NHL China Games, in which the Vancouver Canucks and Los Angeles Kings clash in Shanghai and Beijing.
Call it deadly, dangerous, or just flat out ridiculous, it was all NHL. Boeser won the Vancouver Canucks preseason opener 4-3 in Los Angeles on Saturday with a shot in overtime that fans will be referencing for the next month as they argue whether or not he should make the team.
From the sounds of it, you can put Jake Virtanen in the “damn straight” camp.
“You can’t get a shot better than that — holy,” Virtanen said. “That has to be one of the best shots I’ve ever seen live. Coming down the wing and he just goes shelf. And it was like he’s done it all the time — no celebration.”
Even Boeser’s reaction was perfect. He said he got lucky. He never meant to cut the puck through the defender’s legs. Sure.
But Canucks head coach Travis Green loved it.
“Humble kid. Says he got lucky? That’s good,” Green said.
It wasn’t enough to get Boeser to China. The Canucks are taking veterans to China.
Some of it is because of headoffice pressure. The NHL is trying to “sell the game.”
Overtly or implied, the league made sure the Canucks were keenly aware “a strong veteran presence” was required.
But did the Canucks have to go all-in? Was there not room in this experience for a few young players? How about one?
Boeser is the presumed guts of the future core of the Canucks. The mature goalscoring winger with that crazy release was among the Canucks’ most wellrounded players in the final games of the last season.
If you view the China experience as a carrot, he earned it. He also had lots to gain from a week spent hanging out with guys who could be his teammates for years. And also the Sedins.
This could be the twins’ last lap, and the sun is setting on opportunities for them to lead the young players. To some of us, the trip seemed like a big one.
The Canucks, however, see it differently.
“He’s going to be playing in games [back in Canada] and he’s going to be a go-to guy,” Vancouver general manager Jim Benning said. “It’s a long flight over there. They don’t get a lot of practice time. They play those two games. His best chance [is] this week and the rest of training camp. He can play 15 to 17 minutes a night in those games. Play in power-play situations and show us again what he can do.
“This is going to work out really good. The kids are going to get important minutes in important situations.”
Vancouver’s Brock Boeser, left, and Los Angeles’ Adrian Kempe battle for the puck.