VANCOUVER – Although the Vancouver Canucks lost five of their last six games when they pushed down the playoff ladder, they didn't train on Monday, which was good for everyone except Brock Boeser.
The Canucks first-line winger, who broke cartilage in a game against the Calgary Flames on February 8, surprisingly returned to the ice with his teammates for morning skating before beating Columbus on Sunday Blue lost 1: 2 jackets.
From the time he was injured in an apparently harmless argument with Andrew Mangiapane, the Canucks Boesers recovery schedule set as follows: reevaluated in a week, reevaluated in three weeks, for the regular season and we'll see .
Obviously, with this injury, they didn't know how long their 23-year-old top scorer would be absent. But they always planned that he would play again before the playoffs because general manager Jim Benning Sportsnet said at the close of trading last month that he had to leave enough space below the salary ceiling to get Boeser back from the injured list.
Skating with the team on March 8, one month after the injury, seems to be a best case scenario for Boeser, who has not scored as many goals as expected this season, but with 45 points in 56 Gambling continues to be a key driver of the offense.
Anyone who has had rib injuries knows that even breathing can be painful, and Boeser's cartilage is attracted by shooting and tested in puck battles. Ideally, he could use at least a couple of full exercises – not just morning skates that usually don't include combat exercises – to work his way up to the game state.
But for the Canucks, who have 16 games in March and start four games in six nights on Tuesday, exercises will be rare this month. Back-to-back road games in Arizona and Colorado take place between home games against the New York Islanders and Winnipeg Jets, one of the many teams the Canucks fight in the Western Conference wildcard race.
Good luck finding the practice time. Boeser skated alone several times before Sunday, and maybe he'll get a morning or two ice skates before playing.
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ANOTHER LOTTO TICKET
Since Vancouver is a Canadian hockey market, the second question about Boeser's possible return is who he is playing with. This leads to question no. 3: Who comes from the list?
Boeser was to start with the first liners Elias Pettersson and J.T. Miller on the 6-40-9 line, although his successor Tyler Toffoli has been outstanding in the nine games since trading with the Los Angeles Kings. Toffoli scored eight points with the Canucks, but was hidden on Sunday when he only shot one puck from the post, deflected another from the crossbar and led the Canucks with five shots against the Blue Jackets.
But Toffoli's 200-foot game was almost as impressive as his offensive skills. The 27-year-old is a good, smart and experienced professional who understands both ends of the ice. This is what you would expect from a Stanley Cup winner who was taught in LA by former coach Darryl Sutter.
Toffoli can easily slide down to play with Tanner Pearson, his close friend and old teammate, and Bo Horvat, who still gets most of the heavyweight matchups against the opponent's top line. Toffoli is better suited for this role than Boeser, who is still building up his game in season three.
Toffoli in the second row would also bring Loui Eriksson into a role that corresponds to his ability in this phase of his career – or straight from the lineup. It is either Eriksson or Zack MacEwen who provides much needed energy and physicality in the small league and even scored a few goals in the 6-3 win against Colorado Avalanche on Friday.
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SICK OF THE MEDIA
The Canucks are not only one of the first NHL helpers to fear the coronavirus that media members ban from their locker room, but they also decided that it would be safest for everyone if there were no reporters within a radius of two Meters would be a player. Formal press conferences that make players look like they're on a police lineup, except when they're sitting, work well for games like Sunday.
But reporters and communications staff are still trying to figure out how to cover the team on a training day when the number of players requested could be in double digits and no one wants to have a one-on-one interview in a crowded press conference room, possibly waiting 30 or 40 minutes for their turn.
Amazingly, stories are often needed even when NHL practices are canceled, which is why reporters are increasingly using "bank" interviews to use later.
We know that NHL teams are fed up with the media, and no one accuses the Canucks of not getting sick from 20 or 30 reporters and cameramen, especially not with something as serious as the corona virus. Now all the team officials have to do is figure out how to monitor a six-foot radius between players and the other 2.5 million people in Vancouver – and everywhere else, the team that is inhabited by people travels.
IN THE BATTLE
While the Canucks fluctuate in the overall standings, coaches and management aren't nearly as panicked as the fan base because they hoped at the start of the season that the team would be in exactly that position and would learn to playoffs every night and Fight fighting to stay in combat until the end.
Not much attention was paid before the game in Colorado, but coach Travis Green said after skating on Friday morning: "I don't like that we haven't scored in our last four games." But we have some difficulties and that's fine. We are under pressure and that is fine. I know if we get there (to the playoffs) we will be much better for it.
"If you go through these adversities, through this pressure, you have to be honest with your group. Your players have to be honest with yourself (and) you also have to believe in yourself. You have to love the pressure. We want to People who love to play in such games. "
You will especially love the boys who win them.