All-Star weekend, does it matter? No, not really, but if you decide to buy into it a little, and not get bogged down in the cynicism, then the All-Star spectacle can actually be fun to watch. Sure it means more to some players than others, but when you have guys like Alex Ovechkin blocking shots during the 3-on-3 games, and young Stars like Bo Horvat excited to get the nod, there’s no denying that there is still something about this weekend that matters, in one way or another.
The young guy getting the nod this year to represent the Canucks isn’t Horvat, as he’s only just returning from IR, but rather Calder candidate Brock Boeser. Even keeping in mind the low stakes light-hearted nature of the All-Star Weekend, there are still some things as a Canucks fan, I would like to see from our newest star. If for no other reason than to show the league on a large stage that “HEY! you see this kid?! he’s just the beginning! we’re coming back baby!!” (or at least that’s the idea.)
Dominate Versus the Central Division
First things first, I’d like to see Boeser continue to perform well against players and goalies in the Central Division, whether that be in the 3-on-3 game itself, or in any head to head portion of the Skills Competition. Boeser has scored 3 of his goals this season on the Central Division’s All-Star goalies, despite teams being focused on shutting him down. The fact that Boeser is still able to riffle some beauties past those top-notch netminders is no small feat. Additionally, a novel stat to look at, is Boeser’s plus-minus, averaged from the last game he’s played against each Central Division All-Star, which comes out to “0.33”. Whereas the average plus-minus of all Central Division All-Stars in their last game versus Boeser’s Canucks is “0”. Now obviously that “0.33” average plus-minus is no stat to hang a hat on, but at the very least it foreshadows another slight edge Boeser may have against the Central Division.
Break Ice Against Metropolitan Netminders
Boeser has yet to put anything past either of the Metros’ All-Star goalies. If he does manage to light the lamp over the weekend against these goalies, yes it won’t necessarily mean much. However, you can think of the All-Star game like a mini practice or scrimmage, getting the chance to shoot on goalies you normally don’t shoot on in a lower-stakes environment. This can be seen as a valuable learning opportunity for the next time Boeser goes toe-toe with either Holtby or Lundqvist.
Compete in the Accuracy Shooting Challenge
Give the kid the puck in the slot and he won’t often miss (as seen in the Hellebuyck goal above), under high pressure on limited time, Boeser has been scoring most of his goals with laser-like accuracy. I for one would love to see Boeser be placed in the Accuracy Shooting Challenge for the Pacific team. Crosby won for the Metro last year at a time of 10.73 seconds, and wouldn’t it be something special if the new kid playing out west could at least come close to rivaling the golden goal scorer’s time.
Look Mom! Brock Boeser!
Crosby, McDavid, Matthews, when they entered the league as number one picks, all eyes were on them from the outset. That was not the case for Brock Boeser, although he was a first rounder in 2015, he was 23rd overall, and didn’t have the same media swarm around him at the beginning, as he does now. However with his surge in performance and popularity this season, he’s definitely brought the spotlight back to Vancouver, something Canucks fans haven’t seen for years. With the All-Star game being a league-wide spectacle, enticing some viewers that may not be wise to whats going on in Vancouver, Boeser is likely to bring in excitement and anticipation from hockey fans outside the Pacific North West. That’s something the entire team hasn’t been party to since the early 2010’s and something a single player hasn’t done for the team since the likes of Pavel Bure.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying the goal of an NHL team should be to expand to a non-localized fan base. However, what I am saying is there’s something special about the whole league and all hockey fans setting aside rivalry, to looking at your team and recognizing that, damn there’s something special happening there. With Juolevi and Pettersson just around the corner, Boeser could mark the beginning of a new dynamic age in Vancouver hockey, and that’s good for the team, and the sport, no matter how you slice it.