The widely anticipated debut of Brock Boeser was a bitter-sweet one as the youngster tallied a point on a struggling Canuck powerplay as Vancouver fell 4-2 to the Jets on Thursday night.
The game started off with a frantic pace and some exciting back and forth hockey. It wasn’t long before a vicious looking powerplay wrister from young Boeser led to a juicy rebound landing on the stick of Daniel Sedin – giving Vancouver a 1-0 lead.
The Jets bounced back in a hurry with an awkward one off the skate of Michael Del Zotto. The tricky accidental deflection seemed to suck the energy out of both sides – looking like someone just turned the game-speed down in a video game. All of a sudden it was dump and chase after dump and chase.
With the exception of Bo Horvat, who showed some impressive bursts of speed that led to a few quality chances (one ringer off the iron), the Canucks were looking a little sluggish to say the least. The Sedins and Vanek were hardly noticeable, leaving the fans begging for one of those classic high pressure twin-line shifts. Now that there’s a shooter lined up along side them, it seemed like any time during the second period would have been ideal to step up their creativity and generate some offense.
Unfortunately, this didn’t happen.
Linemates that have had the ability to elevate the Sedins’ game don’t seem to fit into the Thomas Vanek mold. It’s guys like Burrows, Hansen, and even the long forgotten Jason King that provide a complimentary skill-set. It’s guys with a little sandpaper in their game as well as an ability and hunger to win loose pucks. Vanek has been a prolific scorer throughout his career, but a top tier fore-checker he is not. Their ineffectiveness at 5-on-5 may open up a spot on that top (or second?) line for another stab at the Brandon Sutter experiment. Personally, I think Jake Virtanen has earned a look, we know he can shoot the puck, but what is most enticing is that blistering speed and aggressive style of play.
The Canucks gave up a lead late in the second as Ovechkin 2.0 (Patrick Laine) was left wide open in the slot… ‘Nuff said. Just over 3 minutes later a streaking Tyler Myers beat Markstrom shorthanded to extend the lead.
While the Canucks tried to crawl back into the contest, and pulled to within one after a Tanev knuckle-puck hit the postage stamp; they ultimately fell short. It was a decent effort but at the end of the day Jets keeper: Connor Hellebuyck stood tall.
I realize it’s a little early to start criticizing the coach, so I won’t drop any “what the fuck was he thinking” type lines; however, it would have been interesting to see what a little bit of line-juggling may have accomplished. Frankly, I think Boeser and Virtanen might look good together, or even the twins with Boeser for a shift or two.
Either way, let’s not burn our crippled little bandwagon quite yet. It’s early and there are plenty of new faces on this squad – which on paper looks like a decent improvement from last season. Time will tell but it’s certainly nice (here comes the silver lining) to see that the most noticeable difference makers out there look like Horvat, Virtanen, and Boeser. The future is most definitely looking a little brighter this year than it did last.