VANCOUVER, B.C. — Canucks rookie Brock Boeser, the surprise NHL All-Star Game MVP, always gets an extra kick out of facing the Blackhawks.
“It’s awesome. I was a Hawks fan growing up, along with the Wild,” said the 20-year-old Boeser, who grew up in Burnsville, Minnesota. “I was always cheering for them when they were in the playoffs — watching [Jonathan] Toews and [Patrick] Kane growing up is really special. And now to play against them is even more special.”
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Boeser, who had a team-high 24 goals and 44 points entering Thursday night, scored two goals and three points to lead the Pacific Division to the All-Star three-on-three championship. He also won the accuracy shooting event with a clutch final performance. He had a goal and three assists in his first game against the Hawks — a 5-2 victory on Dec. 28 at Rogers Arena.
Boeser won a national championship with North Dakota in 2016 playing on a line with Hawks forward Nick Schmaltz. He and Schmaltz remain good friends. And Kane gave Boeser rave reviews after spending a lot of time with him at the All-Star Game.
“Was walking around with him at the airport. Talked to him a lot during the skills. Very impressive,” Kane said. “We all hear about his shot and how good it is — he showed that. Fun kid to talk to. Reminds me a lot of Schmaltzy. I know they’re good buddies from way back. I got along with him pretty well.”
Goalie Corey Crawford ‘‘had some progress working out” but did not skate Thursday in Chicago, coach Joel Quenneville said. The Hawks will not know how long Crawford will be out until they can work him out on the ice. And there is no timetable for even that right now.
Ryan Hartman often plays the role of protector, so he was especially appreciative when teammate Tommy Wingels stood up to Predators tough guy Austin Watson after Watson took a cheap shot on Hartman Tuesday night. The 6-0, 200-pound Wingels paid a heavy price, getting pummeled by the 6-4, 206-pound Watson. But it was worth it, especially to Hartman.
“That’s part of the game,” Hartman said. “It’s nice to have a guy you know is going to step up for you when the time comes. I’ve tried to do that a few times myself, and it’s nice to see it on the other end.”
Good ol’ days
When Toews was asked if the old rivalry between the Hawks and Canucks still exists, he looked over to a whiteboard on the wall of the Hawks’ locker room with the opponent’s lineup on it.
“Well, there’s the Sedins [Daniel and Henrik]. There’s [Alex] Edler — I don’t know. That’s about it,” Toews said. “So if [Kevin] Bieksa and [Ryan] Kesler and [Roberto] Luongo come back, I’m sure it’ll reignite the rivalry pretty quick. So it’s not quite the same.”
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