Today: part two of Ryan Kesler’s entry in the Every Goal series, where we’ll be looking at goals 11-20, all of which, save the last, took place in December. We’ll see such things as a game-tying buzzer beater versus the Anaheim Ducks, the targeted victimization of Rusty Klesla, Kesler’s first-career hat trick, and the classic Skee-ball goal. There are also some great supporting performances put in by Jannik Hansen, Mason Raymond, and the defence of the Columbus Blue Jackets and Calgary Flames. Enjoy.
Here’s another powerplay goal scored by Ryan Kesler on a redirect, but this one comes with a twist: he doesn’t tip it with his stick. Rather, Kesler deflects this one past Curtis McElhinney with a raised foot. Yow. Considering that both feet and hockey sticks have a propensity for breakage when hit by a puck traveling at over 100 miles per hour, I can assure you that, in future, the Canucks’ coaching staff would prefer Kesler sticks to the stick.
Kesler scored a few pretty big last-minute goals for the Canucks last year. This was the first. With thirty seconds to go in a December game versus Anaheim, Kesler and the Sedins take the puck to the net and do everything in their power to muscle it past Jonas Hiller. At the side of the goal, Kesler gets two great chances, only to be stymied by Hiller’s pad. He’s not done. After Ryan Getzlaf knocks him to the ice with a crosscheck, Kesler hooks the puck back towards the goalmouth with his belly, and it deflects off Hiller’s stick and into the goal. This is, of course, exactly how Alain Vigneault drew it up.
Kesler starts this play, picking up a loose puck at the Columbus bench and making haste for the Blue Jackets’ zone while they complete a sloppy change. He finishes it too, urgently calling for a return pass from Alex Edler and, once he gets his way, whipping a quick wrister just inside the post to beat Mathieu Gardon. Tough play by Rusty Klesla, who was on his way to the bench when Kesler turned the puck back and can’t recover his positioning in time to be any sort of defensive presence. By the time he turns to face the play, he can’t stop Edler’s pass and he can’t block Kesler’s shot because he’s too deep in the zone.
The misfortune continues to mount for poor Rusty Klesla, who overskates a puck in his own zone. With Kesler charging into the zone as the forechecker, the effect is not unlike a drop pass, and suddenly Kesler is all alone in front. Unlike Klesla, Kesler makes no mistake. Mathieu Garon drops to his knees, pleading for mercy (or to make the save, one can’t be sure), but the KesLord is an Old Testament deity, and he opts for wrath.
Kesler’s fifteenth goal of the season, the overtime winner, was also his third of the night. Kesler scored all three Canuck goals in this game, which is why it’s so strange to me that Antoine Vermette doesn’t think to check him. Rather than take his man, Vermette watches Daniel Sedin like he just realized Henrik has a twin. Look at the way Vermette stretches his stick out — that’s not taking away the passing lane, it’s beach combing. In fact, his backchecking is so lazy, Kesler literally glides past him to complete the first hat trick of his career.
There’s no stopping Kesler on this play, as he dashes out into the neutral zone, picks up the puck, and fires a wrist shot past Jaroslav Halak before anybody knows what really happened. Seriously, everyone is confused on this play. Surprised by Kesler’s speed through the neutral zone, Alex Pietrangelo falls down. Jaro Halak’s thinking pass for some reason, despite the fact that Kesler’s in with Raffi Torres. And Hell, even Torres is confused. By the time he positions himself for a pass, Kesler has already scored. Then, after the goal, he turns the wrong way, and seems genuinely puzzled when he can’t seem to locate Kesler. Check out the relief on his face when he does find Kesler. I’m gonna miss Raffi Torres.
This might have been a relatively innocuous 2-on-2 if Rick Nash were a little better at skating backwards. Instead, he loses an edge as he turns, and Jannik Hansen goes right around him to start a 2-on-1. After the Sedins, Hansen is the Canucks’ best passing forward, and he looks like Henrik Sedin here, making a tape-to-tape saucer pass to give Kesler the tap-in.
Kesler’s 18th of the year is another wrist shot from that spot just above the circle that he likes so very much. He’s been shooting from there for years, but last season, Kesler made like Alex Ovechkin and started shooting from there, even if he was completely covered. The result? Surprise goals like this one, which seems to come out of nowhere. Check out the death glare Brian Boucher gives Ryan Kesler on this one. He’s right to be upset; Kesler just made him look silly.
Here’s the classic Skee-ball goal, scored when Ryan Kesler finds himself all alone in front, then Henrik Sedin finds him too. With nobody in the passing/shooting lane, Henrik slides the puck to Kesler in front, and Kesler puts it into the top corner. At the arcade, that’s 100 points. If you’re wondering why Kesler’s so wide open, by the way, watch Matt Carle (#25) and Andrej Meszaros (#41) on the behind-the-net view. When the puck goes to the point, Carle takes a quick look and sees that Meszaros has Kesler covered. He moves up. Then, when the puck goes to Ehrhoff at the top of the zone, Meszaros slides into the shooting lane and Carle doesn’t realize it. When the puck goes to Henrik, Carle doesn’t realize he needs to drop down some, and he moves higher to take away Henrik’s slap-pass option to Daniel instead. The rest is hilarious.
Mason Raymond has a rough season and people have soured a little on him, but he’s still plenty fast and capable of making this happens with his speed. After Alex Burrows creates a neutral zone turnover to spring him, Raymond makes Olli Jokinen look silly here, burning by him effortlessly. Jokinen moves so little you’d think he was posing nude for an art class. Meanwhile, the rest of the Flames get caught up watching Raymond burn rubber, and Kesler skates to the goal unimpeded for the tap-in. It’s worth nothing, by the way, that, as bad as Jokinen looks, Alex Tanguay (#40) doesn’t take a single stride in this clip. I feel like he could have helped.
Previous entries in the Every Goal 2010-11 series: