VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Brock Boeser of the Canucks, the star rookie whose meeting with the Islanders’ Mathew Barzel on Monday night was heavily hyped, suffered a potentially serious back injury with 27 seconds remaining in Vancouver’s 4-3 overtime victory.
Boeser tried to hit the Islanders’ Cal Clutterbuck but bounced off him and fell awkwardly into the open door to the Canucks’ bench, ramming into it with his back. Boeser, who remained face-down on the ice for an extended period of time, needed help to leave the ice and was taken to a local hospital.
Canucks coach Travis Green, a former Islander, expressed cautious optimism after the game that the injury might be only a bruise. But if it is a bruise, it surely is a bad one.
Asked what he saw on the play, Green said, “He goes to make a hit, falls awkwardly into the boards and I think he hit the open gate on the [line] change.”
Boeser presumably will miss at least some time. The Canucks are far out of playoff contention and have no incentive to risk rushing him back.
Earlier, Day 2 of the Calder Trophy Clash dawned with Barzal, who is from here, and Boeser, who plays here, facing a playoff-level phalanx of TV cameras after their morning skates.
Neither player was surprised, because each has been talking about the other for much of the season and was asked to do so after practice Sunday and again in the hours before Monday night’s game at Rogers Arena.
As an added touch, several members of the Seattle-area media showed up to talk to Barzal, who helped that city’s Thunderbirds win the Western Hockey League title last season.
“It’s fun to see, and I’m sure he’s excited to be back home,” Boeser said before the game.
Barzal confirmed that he was but also said he will not focus on the race for rookie honors at the expense of his all-around game. He said he would have about 100 friends and family in the stands Monday night and would try his best to ignore them.
“I know I’m going to try to keep my eyes off the crowd a little bit,” he said. “I don’t want to make eye contact.”
He picked up his 50th and 51st assists but also appeared overly hyped up at times, making a couple of glaring giveaways and taking a penalty.
Weight OK with penalty shot
After falling behind 2-0, the Canucks tied the score with two quick goals in the second period, the second of which came on a penalty shot by Darren Archibald after Johnny Boychuk impeded him on a partial breakaway.
It was a call that could have gone either way, but Islanders coach Doug Weight said he did not have a problem with it.
“Yeah, I think it was probably a penalty shot,” he said. “I mean, you can argue it, but it wasn’t like it was horrific. [Archibald] was in alone. [Boychuk] gets his hands.”
Praise for Hockey Maven
Green, who spent six seasons as an Islander in the mid-1990s, paid tribute to MSG Networks’ Stan Fisch ler in the wake of Fischler’s announcement last week that he will retire from regular television work after this season.
“As good a hockey man as he is, he’s a better person,” Green said. “He’s a good friend of mine. I have a lot of admiration for Stan — loves the game, really loves doing his job. He’s a guy who I think will end up being in the Hall of Fame.”
Green added, “In a way, you’re sad, and in a way, you’re happy. Sad that he’s leaving, but he’s had an unbelievable career.”
Confidence in Gibson
Jaroslav Halak started in goal Monday night, but for the third day in a row, Weight had good things to say about backup Christopher Gibson, who looked sharp in Saturday’s 3-2 overtime loss to the Penguins.
“There’s times when you play people, a backup or a guy up from the minors, and they steal the show, but you can tell they’re a little out of their league or they got a little lucky,” he said. “I just think Christopher looked confident.
“He definitely gained some confidence from us and he’ll be rewarded for that. We felt good with him in the net.”