Before having his season cut short by back surgery, Alex Edler was coming into his own as the Canucks’ premier defenseman. After a slow start to the 2010-11 campaign, with only two goals scored in the first three months of the season (both in November), Edler caught fire in January, scoring the final six of his eight goals in nineteen days. But then the back spasms started. And, after playing through the pain for one game, the team agreed surgery was the best option. After an incredible recovery allowed Edler to rejoin the lineup just in time for the playoffs, he never got back to where he was in January.
In truth, it was a lot to ask of Edler that he return to top form — with no setbacks whatsoever — after such a major surgery. But, with a full (albeit somewhat shortened) offseason in which to get his rhythm, there are high hopes for the Iceman next season. At his ceiling, Alex Edler has the potential to be the best skater, passer, shooter, hitter, and overall defender on the Canucks’ backend. Can he get there?
What Vancouver gets from Alex Edler next season may be one of 2012′s greatest mysteries (the other being how the world will end). And while, today, we look back, not forward, one imagines that every goal Alex Edler scored last season might be an indication of what he’s capable of next season.
Edler’s first goal of the season was the game-winner in the November 6th barn-burner we named as the third-best game of the season. Like many of the goal on this list, it was scored on the powerplay, a place where Alex Edler was prominent up until his back injury forced Mikael Samuelsson to replace him at the point on the top unit. Then, unfortunately, the powerplay performed at a slightly better clip without him, and Samuelsson remained with the unit in the playoffs. Still, it’s clear that Edler was a perfect fit with the unit on this goal. Henrik and Kesler’s little combo to get this pass through to him is a beauty.
Evidence that Alex Edler’s slapshot was an under-utilized weapon on the Canucks’ back end came two years ago, when he stole the hardest shot title away from Sami Salo at Canucks’ superskills. You can see further evidence of it here, as he blisters a one-timer past Ryan Miller on a Vancouver powerplay. One wonders if we’ll see more of Edler’s shots when he isn’t relegated to a stay-at-home, defensive role by a roaming partner who never saw a shot he didn’t like.
One of the most surprising goals of the season comes on this rush during a Vancouver powerplay. What makes it so surprising? The “wingers” streaking in here are Christian Ehrhoff and Alex Edler. This pairing could be a bit of a defensive liability, at times, but when their offensive skill led to moments like this, no one really cared. Edler’s down-on-one-knee one-timer is a thing of beauty. Sidenote: also a thing of Beauty? Philippe the horse.
The Canucks were legendarily bad at 5-on-3s last season, which is why this scoring play materializes the moment the Oilers 2nd man comes out of the box. It’s a beautiful play, as Edler drifts to the center of the blueline, then streaks up the middle of the offensive zone. The shift freezes Ladislav Smid in no-man’s land, where he’s unable to take away the pass to Edler or the down-low pass to Daniel Sedin. Instead, he gets down on one knee, either in an attempt to take away both seams or to propose marriage. Henrik snubs his woo, finds Daniel, and Edler, on his way through, scores on the rebound.
Edler’s first even-strength goal is another blistering slapper, this time on a setup by Jannik Hansen. After Christian Ehrhoff dumps the puck in, Hansen retrieves it low in the zone, circles around behind the net, then makes a perfect pass to Edler at the point for the one-timer. It’s a great play by Hansen, who has shown some pretty decent setup skills throughout this series.
Back to the powerplay, as Edler scores on another booming slapshot. He has all the room in the world after Henrik threads the needle to get a pass to Daniel inside Colorado’s four-man box. The box collapses like it’s about to be recycled, and when the puck squirts to Edler at the far circle, he makes no mistake, beating Craig Anderson with a slapper that rises like a rye loaf. You can’t give that much space to Alex “Breadler” Edler.
This goal is a good example of why Alain Vigneault played the Edler/Ehrhoff pairing with the Sedins as much as he possibly could. Edler joins the rush as the Sedins and Alex Burrows streak into the zone, and after Henrik does some nice work to back off the Calgary defenders, and Burrows draws Jay Bouwmeester to him, creating a screen in front, Henrik makes a backpass to Edler, who whips a wrister past Miikka Kiprusoff.
We see another example of the Edler/Ehrhoff pairing working well with the Sedins later in the same game, as the two blueliners again act as wingers, leading a rush into the offensive zone. From the moment the Roberto Luongo moves the puck to Christian Ehrhoff behind the net, the five-man unit moves the puck around the ice like they’re on a powerplay. It’s no wonder Jay Bouwmeester gets crossed up with his goalie: the Canucks make eight tape-to-tape passes before Edler buries this one into a wide-open net.
For giggles, watch Robyn Regehr (#28) near the end of this clip: he’s so totally befuddled by what he’s witnessing that he winds up spinning in circles.Tags: Edler, Every Goal 10-11, featured