Today in the every goal series, we look at Kevin Bieksa, the much-maligned Canuck defender who fought off trade rumours and two seasons of spotty play to re-win the hearts of Vancouver fans.
Frankly, if you think it’s not possible for Keith Ballard to redeem himself after last season, you obviously learned nothing from Kevin Bieksa. Juice was in a similar place at the end of 09-10. He was at the bottom of the depth chart and people wanted him moved. Instead, the Canucks kept Bieksa, and he rewarded them for it with a great season. Then they rewarded him by making him the highest paid member of the Canucks’ defense.
But make no mistake: Bieksa didn’t quite return to form last season. Rather, he reinvented himself. Bieksa’s 22 points were the same amount he put up the season prior, but he flourished in a new role as a shutdown defender, playing tough minutes with Dan Hamhuis.
That said, Kevin Bieksa can still score, and what you’ll see in his six goals is a guy whose shot remains lethal, whose ability to jump into the rush is still very much in place, and who may very well be able to pick up some of the backend offense the Canucks lost when Christian Ehrhoff headed to Buffalo. Here’s every goal Kevin Bieksa scored in 2010-11.
One might be tempted to ask just what in tarnations Kevin Bieksa is doing in front of the goal, where he deflects this puck. Shouldn’t he be back at the point? With a delayed penalty against the Avalanche, Bieksa heads straight to the net, knowing full well that there’s no threat of an odd-man rush the other way. It turns out to be a wise decision, because he scores. The tip is pretty, too, bearing a slight resemblance to the skee-ball goal Ryan Kesler will score versus the Flyers later on. And finally, Paul Almeida points out that Ryan Kesler’s grody moustache warrants mockery.
Here’s a pretty one, as Daniel Sedin and Bieksa combine for some wizardry just as a Canuck powerplay expires. Sedin rushes the puck the length of the ice, then heads to the boards as he crosses the blueline, leaving the puck for Bieksa in the gap he just opened up. Bieksa makes a nice play to step around his man, then whips a shot past a screened Jaro Halak.
Bieksa’s third goal of the season was also one of the Canucks’ best clutch goals of the year. With twenty seconds to go in a tie game versus Edmonton, Bieksa takes a feed from Burrows at the point and puts a puck through traffic and into the back of the net. Sam Gagner’s shot block attempt is kind of sad, isn’t it? He appears to be attempting to trip the puck. Unsurprisingly, it gets past him.
Bieksa’s fourth of the season comes from the exact same spot, this time on a powerplay, as he simply wrists one past Kari Lehtonen. It’s not an overly challenging powerplay goal, but few versus the Stars were.
Again we see Kevin Bieksa’s effective wrist shot, as he enters the zone on a 3-on-2, then puts a puck through the five-hole of Miikka Kiprusoff, which seems about as eager to close as a 7/11. I’m impressed, too, by the pass from Raffi Torres that starts this play. Rather than making the obvious play to Mikael Samuelsson, he waits a half second to make an unexpected, crisp cross-ice feed to Bieksa instead. Also unexpected: the “We Are All Bieksa” sign held up by an enthusiastic fan post-goal, which became an ongoing meme amongst Canucks fans.
Kevin Bieksa’s sixth goal of the season comes, again, on a wrist shot, but this one’s little more than a fluke. Leading a rush into the Islanders’ zone and needing a goal to tie the game late in the third, Bieksa throws a puck at the net from the corner. Somehow, it finds its way past Kevin Poulin. Originally, Raffi Torres received the credit, but officials would later change the call.Tags: Bieksa, Bieksa Plays For the Canucks Approximately the Right Amount, Every Goal 10-11, featured, Juice