Bo Horvat's playoff legend growing for underdog Canucks

Julian McKenzie
·NHL Writer
·4 min read

This Bo knows how to score in this year’s Stanley Cup playoffs.

Corny lede aside, you all understand that Bo Horvat, the Vancouver Canucks’ 25-year-old captain is not the otherworldly dual-sport athlete Bo Jackson was. However, we cannot deny that he has been the team’s brightest star through the play-in round and their first-round series against the St. Louis Blues.

Hockey fans were over the moon at Horvat’s amazing goal in Game 1, which saw him put St. Louis Blues’ Vince Dunn in the spin cycle before scoring past goaltender Jordan Binnington.

But his encore performance in Game 2 was just as good as the one scored in Game 1 as he once again made fools of the Blues’ defence.

That goal, of course, wasn’t his final act of the second game. He now has an overtime winner to his tally to go along with his two highlight-reel goals. He now has six goals in six playoff and play-in games this summer and has led the team to a 2-0 series lead over the defending Stanley Cup champions.

“I’m feeling pretty good about my game,” Horvat said following his team’s 4-3 overtime victory in Game 2 against the St. Louis Blues. “It takes an entire team to win a hockey game. We’re pretty solid now, from our goaltending all the way up. I definitely can’t take all the credit. We’re playing some good hockey right now and we’ve got to keep it going.”

“There’s that stereotype where you say guys are built for the playoffs. That’s bang on with Bo. Hard, heavy, good down low. Does a lot of great things right. It’s definitely shown up and he’s leading the way for us,” teammate Tanner Pearson said.

Beyond Horvat, there is a lot to like about this young, slightly inexperienced Canucks team. The reigning Calder Trophy winner Elias Pettersson has lit the lamp in the playoffs as well and hasn’t had any sophomore jitters. He even saved a goal in the latter stages of Game 2.

Rookie defenceman Quinn Hughes was a standout in the regular season and he’s since continued his great play in the playoffs, providing game-winning assists he later gets to admire from a distance.

“I came out of the corner with the puck and I don’t know who the (defenceman) was, I think it was (Vince) Dunn,” Hughes said. “He was kind of in the middle. Not too much on the boards. And especially him being a lefty, I thought it’d be hard for him to get that pass.

“Obviously, I would’ve wanted to make a direct pass but I don’t think it was an option.”

The Canucks entered this pandemic postseason with 10 players who had never played in the Stanley Cup playoffs before the play-in round, but their play so far has brought them to the halfway point of eliminating their opponent. All that, despite the Blues being a bit more threatening and desperate at times in Game 2, leading to them erasing a two-goal deficit and forcing overtime.

Bo Horvat. (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)
Bo Horvat is built for playoff hockey. (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

The games have offered learning experiences for those who have had yet to taste what the playoffs are all about.

Horvat had only played in one series prior to the 2020 playoffs, where the Canucks lost in six games to the Calgary Flames back in 2015. For him, it was a bit of a long wait before finally returning to the postseason and accruing more games and pressure-packed moments under his belt.

“It hasn’t been fun, that’s for sure,” Horvat said. “I’m the type of guy that watches the playoffs when we’re not in. You want to see what it’s all about. It’s the best type of hockey you can play. It’s the best hockey being played.

“I wanted to get back here for four years and luckily we’re back now. Just got to keep this thing going. It’s a lot of fun, we’re having fun.”

The Canucks are making it fun for many hockey fans in August, and Horvat’s efforts have been a huge reason why.

“He just needs to do what he’s doing. I’m not going to get in his way by any means. So, I’ll just ride his coattails.” Pearson said.

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OddsMoney LinePoint SpreadTotal Points
Vancouver
+125+1.5O 6.5
Calgary
-150-1.5U 6.5