2011 was a fabulous year for Canucks hockey. Sure, the Stanley Cup Final may not have ended quite the way Vancouver fans wanted it to, but the Canucks were still in it, and that’s a rarity deserving of some serious appreciation.
If you ask me, so was the 2011 team in its entirety. Between the wizardry of the Sedins, the raw power of Ryan Kesler, the stable of offensive-minded defensemen, the occasional flashes of brilliance from the skilled corps of middle wingers, and the gaggle of set plays the team employs, the fans in this city are spoiled right now. We may never see another team like this one again.
With that in mind, it would be crazy to let this year in Canucks hockey lapse without looking back at some of its incredible goals. What follows is a countdown of our favourite 50, which will run Monday through Friday at 9am sharp. Please feel free to disagree with this highly subjective list in the comments.
50 Ryan Kesler (November 29, 2011)
On the powerplay, Kesler breaks his stick and dashes to the bench for a new one. The Blue Jackets seem to think he’s not coming back, and Alex Burrows finds him streaking to the net for a gorgeous one-timer.
49 Dale Weise (December 10, 2011)
Weise pokes the puck to the neutral zone and then makes a power move around Chris Neil (who, ironically, is afraid to touch him for fear of taking a penalty).
48 Cody Hodgson (February 02, 2011)
Hodgson picks up a loose puck in the slot and cuts across the crease, fighting off a defender and outwaiting Ilya Bryzgalov to pot his first career goal. Granted, a lot of guys in salmon jerseys could have played this one better, but most pretty goals are the result of poor defensive coverage, so whatever.
47 Ryan Kesler (May 3, 2011)
Kesler’s first goal of the 2011 postseason. He would score many more, especially against the Predators. But the real star of this play is Christian Ehrhoff, who fools everyone (Watch the three Predators freeze up completely) by skating the puck around Pekka Rinne and below the goal line before putting a pass to Kesler in the crease for a tap-in.
46 Alexandre Bolduc (March 25, 2011)
Alex “Howard Moon” Bolduc only scored two goals in a Canucks uniform, and both came on 2-on-1s. As it turned out, he had a pretty decent shot when he got some space. Case in point: this beautiful backhand, as Bolduc goes high short-side, off the post and in.
45 Chris Higgins (April 28, 2011)
An absolutely beautiful toe drag by Kevin Bieksa strands two Predators at the blueline, turning the play into a 3-on-1 down low. Lapierre makes a pretty pass to Chris Higgins, who scores the go-ahead goal in game one of Vancouver’s second-round series with Nashville.
44 Jannik Hansen (December 17, 2011)
A week to the day after Weise ended the Senators’ hopes of a comeback with an end-to-end rush, Hansen did the same to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Hansen gets extra points for beating Dion Phaneuf, who’s a little better defensively than Chris Neil. And speaking of points, Phaneuf should be docked a couple for cutting across the blueline rather than retreating into the neutral zone, giving Hansen the necessary space to beat him wide.
43 Daniel Sedin (February 04, 2011)
The first of many moments of wizardous Sedinerie to make this list, as the twins zigzag across the blueline with a beautiful give-and-go before Daniel’s shot takes a lucky hop up and over the shoulder of Marty Turco. Keep an eye on Alex Burrows, who makes a beeline to the net — a beeline that “conveniently” absorbs Dave Bolland like a katamari.
42 Daniel Sedin (December 17, 2011)
Speaking of Burrows making space, here he is again, drawing attention to himself with some nifty stickhandling on a 3-on-2 rush before making a beautiful backhand saucer pass to Daniel Sedin for the goal. And Daniel’s tip-in is remarkable — the puck never hits the ice.
41 Kevin Bieksa (May 18, 2011)
Chris Higgins and Bieksa connect on a set breakout play worthy of a Disney movie. As three Canuck players streak through the neutral zone, Higgins sits along the wall of the Canucks’ bench as though he’s not in the play. Then, he catches everyone off guard by hopping onto the ice, receiving the pass, and finding the open man. In this case, it’s Bieksa. This clip gets extra credit for the shot of Steve Nash spilling his beer on the celebration.Alex Burrows, Blogs are for lists, Bolduc, Christian Ehrhoff, Cody Hodgson, dale weise, Daniel Sedin, goals, Ryan Kesler, Wizardous Sedinerie, year-end retrospective