Every Goal, 2012-13: Alex Edler

The third annual Every Goal series will run through the remainder of the summer, remembering every goal scored by the Canucks, player by player. Today, we take a look at Alex “Sleepy” Edler.

Alex Edler has become a surprisingly polarizing figure in Vancouver, with seemingly as many detractors as fans. The problem, essentially, is that he’s not as good as he looks. Really, that’s not that big a problem, because he looks like a combination of Nicklas Lidstrom and Chris Pronger with his smooth skating, big body, booming slapshot, and slick passing.

Fans have been waiting years for Edler to develop into a dominant, all-around, number one defenceman and lead the Canucks to glory. His skillset and calm demeanour seem to suggest that every season could be the one where he breaks out and it all comes together, but it never quite happens. He looks like he could be one of the best defencemen in the league, but he falls just short every year.

For any other defenceman, falling just short of “best” would be good enough, but fans tend to expect a lot more out of Edler. Every giveaway is magnified, as his puck control is too good to give up the puck so easily. Every missed slapshot is a disappointment, as his shot is just too good for him to miss like that. Every defensive miscue is heightened in the eyes of Canucks fans, as the best defencemen in the league simply don’t get beat like that.

Perhaps it’s time to let go of those hopes and dreams and accept Edler for who he is. He’s not a number one defenceman in the conventional sense, like Shea Weber or Zdeno Chara. That’s something I’ve been saying for a couple years. He is, however, a very good defenceman, who is capable of putting up points, playing big minutes at even-strength and on the powerplay, and occasionally throwing a big hit or two. And that’s okay. With quality defencemen like Dan Hamhuis, Jason Garrison, and Kevin Bieksa on the team, along with quality youth like Chris Tanev and Frank Corrado, the Canucks don’t really need Edler to be a number one defenceman. They just need him to contribute as best he can.

Last season, he contributed eight goals, which isn’t too shabby. Here they are:

1 | January 19 vs. Anaheim Ducks

I love the sound of a puck going off the post and in. It always makes this glorious “ding” sound, while pucks that hit the post and stay out tend to make a “clunk” sound. This is a Tru Fakt™. This isn’t Edler’s typical bomb from the point, as he instead chooses a more accurate wristshot, taking advantage of the traffic in front of Jonas Hiller to pick the corner. One of the keys to this goal is Jason Garrison, who makes a nifty play to keep the puck in on the powerplay, then cuts across the slot to create acres of space for Edler at the point.

2 | January 20 vs. Edmonton Oilers

Edler’s second goal came the next day, giving him two goals in the first two games of the season. No wonder Canucks fans were disappointed with him: he was on pace for 48 goals and came 40 short! This goal is the definition of two-way: Edler makes a savvy play at one end to break up an Oiler rush, then does it all himself, streaking into the offensive zone as Maxim Lapierre cuts across and blasting a slapshot past Devan Dubnyk.

3 | February 1 vs. Chicago Blackhawks

Zack Kassian shows tremendous patience and vision on this goal, finding Edler trailing the play after his own shooting lane was taken away by Brent Seabrook. Edler roofs the puck glove side on Corey Crawford. This goal was nice enough (and chaotic enough) that it earned a full Breakdowning treatment.

4 | February 19 vs. Chicago Blackhawks

Classic Edler goal: on the powerplay, the Sedins draw the defenders down too low, giving Edler plenty of room at the point to load up a slapshot and drive it past a screened Corey Crawford. Simple and effective, which are two things the powerplay should have been more often last season.

5 | March 14 vs. Nashville Predators

The puck takes less than three seconds to go from the faceoff dot to the back of the net on this goal. Henrik Sedin wins the faceoff back to Chris Tanev, who slides the puck across to Edler on the backhand, right into his wheelhouse, which is where Edler keeps all his best one-timers. Pekka Rinne doesn’t have a chance.

6 | April 6 vs. Calgary Flames

Edler’s sixth goal comes almost as quickly as his fifth. Henrik wins the faceoff, Daniel passes it across, and Edler wires it past Miikka Kiprusoff. Jannik Hansen provides a screen by being well-positioned and opaque. You’d be surprised at how many players mess up that second part.

7 | April 16 vs. St. Louis Blues

Hansen provides the screen on Edler’s seventh goal of the season as well, but I’m not sure it needed the help. Edler’s wristshot from a little ways above the right faceoff circle is perfect, going off the far post and in.

8 | April 20 vs. Detroit Red Wings

Hey, this looks familiar. Won faceoff, point-to-point, one-timer, goal. The difference here is the personnel. Derek Roy wins the faceoff back to Dan Hamhuis, who sets up Edler for the one-timer past Jimmy Howard. Of note, that’s the only faceoff Roy won the entire game.

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2 comments

  1. iain
    August 13, 2013

    my problem with edler is, yeah, he will score some goals, but for every goal he scores, he contributes to a goal allowed by some horrendous defensive miscue in his own end. and, i know the norris voters don’t agree with me, but the main skill of a defenseman is supposed to be preventing goals against. for me edler is just too high risk vs the reward. and now, he’s on a 6-year (or is it 5?) deal with a no movement clause. so we have to live with those moments when you peek through your fingers, hoping against hope that edler has made the safe play instead of the idiot play, and that no opposition player is now being gifted with a +1. for the duration of the contract.

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  2. Chris the Curmudgeon
    August 15, 2013

    As an aside, the thing I notice very strongly is that TSN’s production quality (particularly sound) is quite a bit better than Sportsnet or CBC.

    Oh. and I think Edler is due for a bounce back. Alex, please do not interpret “bounce back” as another word for “drop pass”

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