Every Goal, 2011-12: Cody Hodgson, part one

Cody Hodgson may not have had many friends in the Canucks’ organization by the time he left, but he certainly had a lot of fans. His knack for timely, pretty goals saw to that. He was the Canucks’ best offensive prospect in years, which won him more than his fair share of hearts.

As for me, I’m going to be honest: I’m glad he’s gone. Not so much because I didn’t like the way he played — I did — but because he was Vancouver’s version of the cube from Transformers or The Avengers: an unstable, much-ballyhooed cosmic item that just makes everyone fight. The man was a lightning rod for controversy, and he left the Vancouver fanbase in a state of Civil War.

After this post, you’ll understand why people felt so passionately about Hodgson, because reading this post is like only eating the frosting in a pack of Dunkaroos. Since they’re goals, each video takes place in the offensive zone, which is where Hodgson did his best work and where his shortcomings — poor skating and backchecking — were at their least noticeable. Since most people don’t watch players when they don’t have the puck, Hodgson likely looked perfect.

If you don’t keep that in mind as we review his goals, you’re going to get really, really mad. Heck, you might still get mad. Maybe you’re already mad. I don’t know your story. Friendly tip: if you want to sound off, the comments section is below. Friendly warning: if you want to avoid conflict, the comments section is below.

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1 | October 10 vs Columbus Blue Jackets

Hodgson’s first goal of the season (and second of his NHL career) comes on a beautiful set play, as he wins the draw back to the point, where Dan Hamhuis darts down the wall with it. As the Jackets get confused, Hodgson is left alone at the dot, and he goes straight to the net to tip in Hamhuis’s pass. Note the presence of Mikael Samuelsson and Marco Sturm in the group hug. It’s like this goal takes place in a parallel universe or something.

2 | October 25 vs Edmonton Oilers

If you ask me, this should have been a beautiful assist. Hodgson gains the Edmonton zone with speed, draws both Oiler defenders to him, then makes a nifty backhand pass to Manny Malhotra, who is completely alone. Unfortunately, Malhotra’s so used to life in the defensive zone that he protects the puck and takes it behind the net. But all is not lost. Malhotra’s second instinct is to continue protecting the puck and give it to a defenceman, Alex Edler. Edler finds Hodgson, who does what he clearly should have done all along and shoots it himself for the goal.

3 | November 1 vs Calgary Flames

Maxim Lapierre creates this goal with a healthy dollop of help from the Calgary defence. After winning a race to the puck along the far wall, he jukes out Tom Kostopoulos, then centers for Hodgson, who is wide open at the side of the goal. Pay special attention to Mark Giordano, who directs traffic entering the zone, then sets up a cot in the faceoff circle and puts on a movie.

4 | November 13 vs New York Islanders

This is the goal that should make Mike Gillis critics the angriest. Why? It’s created by Michael Grabner and Cody Hodgson. After Aaron Rome’s point shot deflects off Grabner, Hodgson buries it at the side of the goal. Unbelievable chemistry by those two. Gillis, you fool!

5 | December 1 vs Nashville Predators

This is just a gorgeous give-and-go by Hodgson and Higgins. Hodgson makes the pass to Higgins down below the goal line, then blows by a snoozing Martin Erat for the return pass. Be sure to watch the second replay, where Higgins’s patience and stickhandling on the return pass are on display. It’s “Chris Higgins’s torso” pretty.

6 | December 8 vs Montreal Canadiens

Hodgson’s in the right place at the right time here. Mason Raymond burns into the Canadiens zone and fires a wrist shot, only to have it blocked by P.K. Subban, who pushes it to Hodgson. Hodgson buries it like it’s Beatrix Kiddo. Silly Subban. If he’d spent any time talking to Vancouver fans, he’d have known that the wiser play would have been to push it back to Raymond.

7 | December 21 vs Detroit Red Wings

I call this goal Greta Garbo, because it’s old-school and sexy. After Manny Malhotra wins a puck battle at the blueline, he banks it down the wall to Jannik Hansen, who spots Cody Hodgson streaking through the neutral zone like a drunken undergrad. Hodgson steps across the blueline, and with Nicklas Lidstrom bearing down on him, he does the right thing, getting the puck away quickly by slapping it like it was getting fresh with him. True fact: the “ping” it makes on the way in is so dirty it earned this game an R rating from the MPAA.

8 | December 29 vs Anaheim Ducks

And now it’s time for another episode of Toni Lydman’s dos and don’ts. Do: let your goaltender see the shot, so he can stop it. Don’t: go out of your way to crosscheck your man in the back multiple times, especially when he’s coming directly at you, and the rebound is directly in your way. This has been another episode of Toni Lydman’s dos and don’ts.

 

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18 comments

  1. kavi36
    July 16, 2012

    “It’s ‘Chris Higgins’s torso’ pretty.” I shall use that to describe everything pretty for the rest of my life.

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  2. Chris the Curmudgeon
    July 16, 2012

    I quite like Cody Hodgson.

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  3. Frank N.
    July 16, 2012

    Yep, those are some sweet goals. And yes, he had defensive deficiencies and (apparently) was a handful to manage of the ice. But fact remains that he has great playmaking abilities and a wicked shot. Two things the Canucks could use very well (right now and down the line).
    Moreover, management should have done a better job of managing the player and his expectations. If necessary, get someone like Trevor Linden to talk to the kid who could tell him to have patience, work on his game and call off the dad and agent. But alas, it’s too late now. Now, we’ll just have to see where Kassian fits on this team (if at all, especially if they bring in another centre and/or winger).

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    • Mack
      July 16, 2012

      Agreed. Yeah, he had some defensive problems, but he was also a 21-year old rookie. It’s funny when people rip him for not being good defensively and then preach patience with other young players. It’s not as if he’s never going to improve in that area. Besides, it’s not as if Kassian’s a reliable tough minutes option himself, and he doesn’t have nearly the offensive ability/potential as Hodgson. I like Zack, and hope for all the best but I’m still convinced the trade will come back to haunt us.

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  4. Mack
    July 16, 2012

    I really hope Kassian turns out.

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  5. Tengeresz
    July 16, 2012

    I like Cody, and I love his goals, but I agree with your conclusion that everyone is better off with him traded for another good prospect.
    I’m usually not too interested in reliving “Every Goal” but I did click to the article just to see my favourite goal of this talented player’s whole career: Number 7 against the Red Wings.
    Why is it my fave? Just as you say — it’s old school. I love the breakaway slap shot, and don’t get to see it too often.

    In an unusually simile laden summary, I give bonus points to PITB for a genuine LOL moment when I read:
    “streaking through the neutral zone like a drunken undergrad”

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    • Tengeresz
      July 16, 2012

      Oh yeah: other things I like about that goal: it starts in the defensive zone, and features two under-appreciated players setting it up with great hard work (including a sweet stick-check).

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  6. akidd
    July 16, 2012

    such nice weather. can’t be drawn into coho debate…must resist…getting weaker….

    argh…apparently pitb have bought into the defensive liability line so completely and liked it so much they decided to get their own franchise.

    yup, those defensive pluggers make all the big bucks. and it’s not like they have to learn to play d. they are born with it. you don’t learn defense, you either got it or you don’t. coho obviously didn’t have it and will never improve one iota so it’s a good thing AV didn’t waste any more time with him.

    and the guys with creative knack for offensive, which they’ve honed by playing against the best possible competition since they were toddlers…those guys are a dime a dozen. and 99mph slapshots that go ‘ ping’ can be bought at a dollar store.

    the canucks are so much better off without coho. especially seeing how poorly he treated management. gets all this free medical advice and not a word of thanks. the canucks put coho ahead a couple of years in his development and were so gracious when they finally had to let him go, telling the world what a great young kid he was.

    man, that coho. such an ingrate. good thing he’s gone. especially since the canucks have such a glut at centre.

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    • Daniel Wagner
      July 16, 2012

      I’m not going to lie: I wish the Canucks still had Hodgson right now. I’m happy with the return the Canucks got for him (I think Kassian is the real deal), but I liked Hodgson a lot.

      My issue with his defensive liabilities was always tied to last season, which is why I’m fine with the Canucks trading him when they did. I think it’s possible that he will improve in that area, though his issues with skating that were exacerbated by his injury troubles will always hamper him. Harrison and I have a mild disagreement on this issue.

      That said, I’m not sure that Hodgson will have much success this season in Buffalo if he’s expected to be their number one centre right away. Heck, I’m not sure he’s ready to be a number two centre. If Ennis is able to step up to the top line for the Sabres, Hodgson might be okay on the second line, but I really wish his agent and father weren’t rushing him into top minutes so quickly.

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      • akidd
        July 16, 2012

        sorry daniel, re-psoted below before i saw your response. let’s leave it to harrison to prove coho’s defensive liabilities then.

        i think it will take coho a while still to get into high gear. but i don’t blame him for wanting to learn in the heat of battle. big minutes against top lines would be a sink or swim situation and as we’ve seen from how he fought back to compete like he did last year i believe that fish can swim. it would fast-track development for sure but if i were ruff i’d try second line – minute, pp, and pk too. 17-18 mins per. and i wouldn’t shelter him too much either. give him a true shot. i’d bet on him.

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        • Daniel Wagner
          July 16, 2012

          His defensive liabilities are normally based on his Corsi rate, which was one of the worst on the team, despite the very favourable situations he was put in. The only forwards with worse Corsi rates played on the Malhotra line, which got buried in the defensive zone to a degree that has never been seen before.

          Again, it’s not based on seeing one play (the missed backcheck you keep referring to) and extrapolating, it’s based on his puck possession statistics. Last season, he was a defensive liability. We can say this because when he was on the ice, the opponents outshot his team.

          Plus/minus is a fundamentally flawed statistic because it is very dependent on team performance, situational usage, and chance. Hodgson was a plus-8 with the Canucks, a team that tended to outscore their opponents. He was a minus-7 on a team that tended to get outscored. This is not a coincidence.

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  7. akidd
    July 16, 2012

    and i’m just wondering about the whole ‘defensive liability’ line that keeps getting trotted out. if you’re putting together a highlight package of coho’s goals how about a package of his defensive gaffes too? I remember one ‘missed backcheck on rafalski ‘ but other than that i’d say there’s a not a lot of evidence being used to support this argument. kinda weak when you think about it.

    i’m not saying i thought coho was a defensive stud but how bad was he really? i know about the zone starts but that’s not coho’s decision. you can’t hang him just because of AV’s decisions. coho was a plus 8 with the canucks. with the sabres he was -7. overall plus 1. (nugent hopkins was -2 and taylor hall -3. hall was -9 the year before.) coho was a pk guy in junior too. is he really that bad at d, for his age and experience, and considering that he is a scorer?

    i just think if you’re going to keep using the ‘coho equals bad d’ thing maybe it’s time to prove it. highlight package. a perfect time of year for it too.

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  8. BedBeats
    July 16, 2012

    Kind of too bad about CoHo. Havent seen a Canuck rookie player that has been such a topic of debate in a long while. On CDC, the discussions right from the moment he was drafted were comedy gold.

    At that time people were vaunting his “leadership” qualities, while some of the more learned Hockey fans always noted the same things that had been dogging him, skating/speed/size.

    The leadership thing is whatever, at his stage and the Canucks status with the roster, he was in the perfect position to soak up knowledge, as management really invested into making him a more NHL ready and complete player…and it just seemed to unravel after his injuries.

    Personally, i saw him as someone that could really have had a career trajectory similar to Jordan Staal, or even Henke Sedin, but it looks like his daddy and agent feel differently. Probably because so many of his peers were established in their NHL roles. How they failed to see that his peers teams had different needs and it was only natural to promote prospects immediately, will always baffle me. And it will probably hurt his career.

    Anyways, fun hi light package. He did impress me when he made the team, it was clear he was working hard to improve, his skating got only marginally better, but made up for it in other areas. He was even starting to improve nicely at the dot.

    All in all i really do not care he is gone. Im more interested in witnessing Kassian develop with the team.

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    • John in Marpole
      July 17, 2012

      My read on the Hodgson situation is similar to yours, but I’ll add that I believe it is quite possible that 5 years from now he will be playing on his 3rd or 4th NHL team.

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  9. Laplander
    July 16, 2012

    “The man was a lightning rod for controversy, and he left the Vancouver fanbase in a state of Civil War.” – We are getting rid of AV?

    I think there has been more controversy of AV and the decisions he makes than there ever was with Hodgson.
    I believe that that trade was AVs, pure and simple. If Kesler was injured we should have kept and played Hodgson.
    When AV was messing around at the end of the season when DS was injured they found a combination that seemed to work when they put Maxim Lapierre on the wing, but as soon as the playoff started he was back to the 4th line.

    I am hoping Kassian works out and I think I get why we let Gragnani go, although I’m not happy with that either.

    Thank you.

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    • Daniel Wagner
      July 16, 2012

      I had high hopes for Gragnani: there aren’t many defencemen who put up point-per-game numbers in the AHL like he did in 2010-11. But he was a disaster in his own zone.

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      • Brent
        July 16, 2012

        Have him play wing. Then the roaming will be an asset.

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  10. BedBeats
    July 17, 2012

    I will always get kicks outta folks that will pin blame on AV when a player does not work out. Obviously Mathieu Schnieder was totally effed over by AV.

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