Kuzma: From hot shot to stick selection, flowing Boeser is talk of NHL

 

 
 
 
 
Brock Boeser's has a shot being heard around the league.
 
 

Brock Boeser's has a shot being heard around the league.

Photograph by: Jeff Vinnick, The Province

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NEWARK, N.J. — It has come to this with Brock Boeser.

Hail a New York City cab, watch television in the back seat and his name scrolls across the bottom of screen on the NBCSports feed: “Boeser channels Bure, leads NHL rookie scoring.”

With 22 points in 19 games heading into Friday’s meeting with the New Jersey Devils — including at least one goal in four-consecutive outings to match the first-year feats of Pavel Bure and Jason King — the Vancouver Canucks’ winger is drawing leaguewide accolades.

He has even become a big deal in the Big Apple.

Eleven goals, including six in his last four games, and 15 goals in 28 outings since joining the Canucks last March will do that. Keep this up and those Prince Charming flowing locks might light up one of those giant screens in Times Square.

Coaches, analysts, teammates and the opposition rave about the manner in which the mild-mannered right-winger processes the game. They gush over the way he buys time, they marvel at how he threads passes in traffic and finds seams to unleash that hard and accurate shot.

It has reached a point where the opposition wonders what kind of stick and flex Boeser uses because the 20-year-old seems to have found all the answers.

Boeser is good enough to use a 90 flex on his composite shaft. To you and me that may not mean much, but to players looking for any kind of shooting edge in velocity and accuracy, it means everything.

It means Boeser has the strength and skill to not only get a lot on his shot, it also means the solid 6-1, 191-pound winger can pick corners because of the Patrick Kane-like curve on his blade. That only enhances his natural ability that’s reflected in a 20.8 shooting percentage.

None of this microscopic investigation of what make Boeser tick surprises New Jersey Devils’ rookie Will Butcher.

He was leading first-year defencemen in scoring with 16 points (2-14) in his first 21 games and playing at the University of Denver meant he faced Boeser, the strong University of North Dakota sniper who owned the best release in college hockey.

So to Butcher, who uses an 85 flex stick because he was breaking those with a lower flex, the selection for Boeser makes perfect sense.

“To use a 90 stick and still be snapping the puck like that, you have to be a pretty strong guy,” said Butcher. “And I know playing against him in college because he used to take one-timers. We thought it was a good night when we held him to one or two goals.

“He had an NHL shot then and when a guy gets hot and gains confidence, a lot of good stuff starts to happen.”

Sure, but did he have NHL stamped on him in college?

“I’d say 100 per cent,” added Butcher. “It was his mind for the game, but he had the best shot in our conference and in the NCAA. He could pick corners and shoot from anywhere — he was always a threat no matter what.”

Run the stick stuff by Boeser and you get that shrug of the shoulders.

He feels the 90 flex allows him to handle the puck better and get them away quicker because other flexes he tried didn’t bring that combination.

“I don’t like too whippy of a stick, but I do like to feel a little whip,” said Boeser. “If I have too much, I just feel that my shot is just not the same.”

And there’s no magic baby powder sprinkled on those sticks in his pre-game prep.

“No, no, no,” he laughed. “I just cut my sticks the same, tape them the same (on knob and bottom of blade) and that’s about it.”

All the early success could easily derail Boeser if he didn’t have the right attitude and willingness to improve on a daily basis. There are even ‘The Flow’ T-shirts to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Boeser bought one.

“I think that’s pretty funny, honestly, it’s cool,” he chuckled. “And so is donating money.

“But I know if you get too confident, it can turn in a hurry if you don’t produce. I just try to stay level-headed and guys do a good job making sure I don’t get too confident.”

Canucks coach Travis Green knows Boeser dipped a bit after a hat trick outing against Pittsburgh on Nov. 4. But the rookie didn’t start cheating or getting down on himself. He worked harder. And that resonated with those in the room.

“You can have rooms where players don’t like that a young guy is getting the spotlight,” said Green. “With our room, they’re happy for him because he helps us win. And it’s how he acts and why veterans allow him to do his thing.

“Brock is very humble about it and that’s extremely important. The team is the biggest thing.”

Troy Stecher knows what makes his former North Dakota teammate tick and how to keep him grounded.

“We like to give him a hard time and have fun with it,” said Stecher, who has been cleared to play after recovering from a knee injury.

“The Flow, The Shrek, the Prince Charming look. His freshman year was my junior year and we won it all and he led our team with 60 points (42 games) which is pretty unheard of in college.”

POKE CHECKS — Boeser had one assist in Friday’s 3-2 loss against the Devils. He logged 19:16 of ice time.

bkuzma@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/benkuzma

NEXT GAME

Sunday

Vancouver Canucks vs. New York Rangers

11 a.m., Madison Square Garden, SNET, SNET 650 AM

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This week on The Patcast, Jeff and Botch dive into the roll Canucks rookie Brock Boeser is on and how his scoring success is starting to attract attention around the league. Listen here:

 
 
 
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Brock Boeser's has a shot being heard around the league.
 

Brock Boeser's has a shot being heard around the league.

Photograph by: Jeff Vinnick, The Province

 
Brock Boeser's has a shot being heard around the league.
The shot, the goals and even The Flow are putting Brock Boeser in spotlight.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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