Was that it? Was that the catalyst that launches the Vancouver Canucks forward, the storybook ending the team needed to coalesce as a hockey playing brotherhood?
Brock Boeser was declared a healthy scratch Saturday morning for the game being played on Hockey Fights Cancer night at Rogers Arena. Instead, he appeared during warm-ups wearing a jersey with the name “Dukey” on the back, in honour of his late father Duke who passed away early this past summer. It was an extremely difficult and emotional time for Boeser, somewhat well documented, leading up to a summer of reflection and eventual rejuvenation.
Along the way, a new three-year contract worth $6.5-million per, and the declaration that this would be his first 30-goal season.
Coming off an early season injury and an inconsistent start, Boeser appeared a bit down and out; a scratch announcement after a pointless three-game stretch that saw him and others ineffective, particularly in two of the matches.
“Sometimes tough love is tough love,” said Canucks head coach Bruce Boudreau Saturday morning. “I know he’s capable of being much better. We want to win and we need him over the long haul to win. We need to be better. It could have been one of a few guys.”
It gets worse. In the afternoon a national media ‘hockey insider’ announced that the Canucks had given permission to Boeser’s agent to speak to other clubs about a trade. Shocking! Or should we say, shocking? It seemed impending changes were taking root, almost immediately afoot.
Yet there he was, and there were the Canucks, battling through against the Arizona Coyotes, that’s right, the Arizona Coyotes, with Boeser scoring the game tying goal with 8:12 remaining with the shot that got him to where he is today, a twisted wrister from the left wing circle that ripped past ‘Yotes goalie Karel Vejmelka on the short side. It was a beauty.
The emotional momentum that ensued made it almost a lock that the home team was going to pull out this victory, pretty much guaranteed once they were given a 4-on-3 power play in overtime. The desert dogs took a too-many-men-on-the-ice penalty.
Cue Bo Horvat, in a contract year for the ages, lighting the lamp for the 19th time this season on a defection, his second tally of the night. The team captain and the third leading goal scorer in the NHL finished off a rousing victory for the Canucks.
Will they handle the inconsistent Montreal Canadiens on Monday night and then dispose of the mess that are the San Jose Sharks on Wednesday to get on a roll? It would be helpful as the schedule gets more difficult after that.
Or will it simply be more of the same.