Sports Botchford: Canucks’ Brock Boeser an NHL all-star? Bet on it

05:01  10 january  2018
05:01  10 january  2018 Source:   theprovince.com

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — You better believe Brock Boeser is going to the all-star game.

Wednesday’s official NHL announcement is a formality. So is the $212,500 bonus he will collect because of it.

Boeser has led the team in goals for two months. He’s led rookies in points for most of the season. And when Bo Horvat broke his ankle, Boeser didn’t dissolve without his centre. He got better.

The all-star honour will have been wonderfully and unquestionably earned. The weekend, the last one in January, will be good times for him and Vancouver fans. There will be video features produced by the Canucks. There could be a Boeser blog. And if Bo Horvat’s experience is any indication, Boeser’s family may not be able to buy his all-star jersey in the all-star store.

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Canucks Rookie Brock Boeser is on his way to Tampa to make his NHL All - Star Debut, but not before last year's All - Star Bo Horvat offers him some advice

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“If it does happen,” Boeser said. “I will be pretty quiet around those guys.”

Quiet, sure, and learning.

Boeser’s goal scoring gets all the highlight love, and it should. The past five seasons have been mostly miserable for Canucks fans, and seeing a Vancouver player who can ferociously and accurately pick corners is a revelation not unlike seeing an ice dragon for the first time. It changes your entire perception of what’s possible.

What is not possible, however, is Boeser sustaining his current shooting percentage, which has been hovering around 20 per cent for most of the season. The very best shooters in the game are usually around 10-to-14 per cent range. You can build a case that Steven Stamkos’s shot is among the best in history and his career shooting percentage is 17 per cent. None of the other goal-scoring legends currently playing has a shooting percentage higher than 15 per cent for his career.

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So Boeser’s will regress. But he will find other areas in which to improve.

How do we know?

He has proven in his first three months in the NHL he is a very bright hockey player.

“He’s smart. Really smart,” Vancouver head coach Travis Green said. “He has a good hockey mind.

“I think he understands the game for a young guy. He understands the importance of play away from the puck. At times, he does get away from it.

“He’s not afraid to admit it. That’s also important for young players to understand when they’re not playing as well as they can and why.”

Put a smart player for a weekend with the game’s best players and there will be much to absorb.

As an example, Boeser was telling a story Tuesday about a difficult shot he’s seen Alex Ovechkin execute. It includes a subtle but quick movement with the puck before launching it on net. The sequence makes it incredibly difficult for the goalie to track the puck.

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“I’m going to try it soon,” he said, with a smile.

Last season, all-star weekend was a watershed moment for Horvat. It was a coming-out party of sorts where fans, and even teams, outside of Vancouver realized how effective he was offensively.

That part has already happened for Boeser. His offence is louder and more consistent than Horvat’s ever was.

But Horvat internalized the experience as well, and gained from it. It affirmed in him that he could be among the best players in the game, that he had earned that.

In short, it was inspiring. And let’s face it: with the way the Canucks’ season has cliff jumped, Boeser can probably use all the inspiration he can get his hands on.

In the first 14 games Horvat missed, Boeser was in on 15 goals. The Canucks only scored 32 in that time. That puts a lot of pressure on a rookie. So does the losing.

“A big part has been Bo out of the lineup, but there have been other injuries,” Boeser said.

“It’s obviously hard with those types of guys out.”

Good news is, there’s nothing hard about all-star weekend.

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Fully healthy Canucks leave once-powerful Kings flummoxed .
On Tuesday, the Vancouver Canucks were a forlorn 28th in the National Hockey League. And still the Los Angeles Kings were beaten 6-2 by the Canucks at Rogers Arena. The Canucks!“It’s not you, it’s me,” the Kings would have told themselves as they trudged to their bus.And they’d be right. Partly.The Kings were awful. Losers of six straight until they their power play beat the New York Rangers on Sunday, the Kings suddenly bear no resemblance to the brawny, talented team that has dominated the Canucks physically, technically and spiritually since dumping Vancouver in the 2012 playoffs on its way to their first Stanley Cup.

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