For the past two years, we here at PITB have closed out the year with the top 50 goals. But this past year simply had a lot less Canucks hockey than we’ve grown accustomed to.
In 2010 and 2011, the postseason lasted longer than 5 games. (Heck, in 2011, considering how deep they went and how many pretty goals they scored, we could almost have done a top 50 playoff goals.) And in both years, they started playing hockey again in the fall. But in 2012, instead of 9 months of Vancouver Canucks games from which to choose our favourite 50 tallies, we got 4. That fact sadly in mind, we chose to pare it down a little.
On the bright side, this is still the Vancouver Canucks we’re talking about, so even though they were only active for one third of the calendar year, and even though it was hardly a banner year (except for another Presidents’ Trophy banner! All right!) they still managed to score a wide array of pretty, pretty goals. Let’s take a moment to appreciate their best, starting with 30-21.
30 | Sami Salo (March 30)
We begin this countdown with Sami Salo’s final goal as a Canuck, which was, fittingly, a quintessential Sami Salo goal. On the powerplay, Henrik Sedin feeds Salo at the point, and the fragile but lovable defender just crushes it home.
29 | Cody Hodgson (January 31)
Hodgson converts on this breakaway beautifully, but I’m especially partial to the surprise pass from Dan Hamhuis. Considering he’s just breaking up a zone rush, most defenders would be content to push this puck out to the neutral zone. Hamhuis somehow has the presence of mind to spot Hodgson and hit him with a perfect backhand pass.
28 | David Booth (February 15)
Off the opening faceoff, Ryan Kesler, Mason Raymond, and David Booth combine to make the Colorado Avalanche feel bad about themselves. You half-expect the Avalanche to go to the referee and say, “That doesn’t count, we weren’t ready.”
27 | Henrik Sedin (April 22)
It’s a shame it came in a game (whoa, triple-rhyme!) that saw the Canucks eliminated from the playoffs, because otherwise we might have appreciated this one a little more. In his second game back from concussion, Daniel showed the same deft touch as in his first game back, finding Henrik with a perfect cross-crease saucer pass for the tap-in. I love that Henrik somehow managed to put this in the top of the net, just in case Quick made a desperation lunge down-low. And, of course, the Sedins’ leaping hug fail behind the net is a charming moment indicating they’re still not quite fully on the same page.
26 | Marc-Andre Gragnani (March 31)
Hey, remember Marc-Andre Gragnani? Me neither. But apparently he played for the Canucks, and his lone goal in the blue and green is a pretty one. It’s not so much him, mind you, as it is Henrik Sedin and Alex Burrows along the wall. The Sedins get accused of playing like soccer players fairly often, but sometimes, it’s awesome and true. Marvel at Henrik’s nifty little back-kick to shake Burrows loose from two defenders.
25 | Daniel Sedin (February 18)
It amazes me that it took two more weeks after this game to get Ron Wilson canned. I mean, I guess it’s not his fault that Clarke MacArthur tripped breaking out of his own zone and served up a freebie to the Sedins, but, seriously, I think every goal from this Leafs game is on this list. Watch how quickly this puck goes from MacArthur’s possession to the back of the net, and be sure to watch the reverse angle, where you see that Henrik’s pass is a saucer through a Toronto player’s legs. Holy cow.
24 | Daniel Sedin (February 07)
What a pass here from Byron Bitz, who, for a few games, looked like he might be the long-lost third Sedin. This is a tape-to-tape, no-look, backhand, centring pass to Daniel, while Bitz is being cross-checked into the wall. Who saw that coming? Give Daniel credit for a great read, though, as he pivots off his man at the dot and rushes to the net, wide open.
23 | Chris Higgins (March 24)
Speaking of great setups, Jannik Hansen is the star on this goal, tossing Tyson Barrie off the puck like he’s nothing before spinning and finding Higgins streaking into the zone. You’d think Hansen was 400 pounds. But no, that’s just what happens when a 19-year-old goes up against man-strength. Hansen’s pass is sick too. All four Avalanche players on the ice are in the frame and he just threads it through them.
22 | Ryan Kesler (January 21)
Ryan Kesler came under fire a little in 2012 for the infrequency with which he uses his linemates, but sometimes, like, say, on a 2-on-1 or during a white elephant gift exchange, keeping is the right option. Kesler does some savvy stickhandling to keep the puck away from a diving Shark checker before pulling the puck back to the forehand and putting it home.
21 | Kevin Bieksa (February 18)
Told you that Leafs game would show up again. Hansen’s sick passing is back too. Kevin Bieksa is the beneficiary here, as Hansen redirects a Henrik Sedin feed right to him as he streaks through the centre of the ice. Be sure to watch the crestfallen Darryl Boyce, who gets bamboozled at the top of the zone, then hangs his head and skates away as the goal horn sounds.