VANCOUVER -- Brock Boeser said he hopes to be back in the Vancouver Canucks lineup soon after skating with his teammates for the first time since fracturing rib cartilage one month ago.
The forward, who had been expected to be out for eight weeks after being injured against the Calgary Flames on Feb. 8, said he's been skating for a couple of weeks and has been cleared for contact.
"Obviously, they wouldn't have cleared me if it wasn't healed and I wasn't comfortable with it," Boeser said after taking part in the morning skate Sunday before the game against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Rogers Arena (10 p.m. ET; SNP, FS-O, NHL.TV). "Just took some battle drills out there with some of the guys. I felt pretty good out there, so hopefully I'll be back soon."
Boeser is tied for fifth on the Canucks with 45 points (16 goals, 29 assists) despite missing Vancouver's past 11 games. Ten days after Boeser was injured on an innocuous looking hit, Canucks general manager Jim Benning said he "could be done for the year," but the 23-year-old said he was always confident he'd return before the end of the season.
"I personally felt I could be back and play a decent amount of games before the year ended and that was my main goal," Boeser said. "We've had a few guys with this injury and it's kind of all over the place with how long it takes, so I'm just happy I'm feeling good after four weeks."
Boeser said conditioning remains the biggest hurdle to his return.
"It's tough with my injury, just shortened breath for a few weeks. But it's a lot better," Boeser said. "You get pretty tired quickly, but it's hard to make game-like conditioning, especially when our team is not practicing a lot because it's the end of the year, so I think I'm still going to be working hard on my conditioning even when I do come back."
Boeser said he can feel the excitement around the team and in the city as the Canucks try to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in five seasons. Vancouver is tied with the Nashville Predators and Winnipeg Jets for the first wild card from the Western Conference, and Boeser said he's trying to look at the bright side of missing time with injury for a third straight season.
"It's frustrating, especially on a small little hit like that," he said of the injury, "but I'm just going to look at it like it's a positive and be fresh and make a difference when I come back in the games."