The 2012-13 season was an unusual one for Kevin Bieksa. By his underlying statistics, it was Bieksa’s worst season in over five years. His usage was similar to that of 2011-12, but his Corsi went from 10.26, which led all Canucks defencemen in 2011-12, to -0.98, ahead of only Andrew Alberts.
Bieksa just wasn’t at his best this past season, but it gets a little more clear why when you look at who he played with for most of the season. Bieksa’s most common defence partner was Alex Edler, which is surprising given how little chemistry they have together. In 2011-12, Bieksa spent the entire season with Dan Hamhuis, whose steadiness is a perfect complement for Bieksa’s more freewheeling nature.
When paired with Edler, Bieksa’s Corsi% was 49.9%, meaning there was about an even split in shot attempts for and against when they were on the ice. Bieksa’s second most common partner was Jason Garrison and the two of them managed a Corsi% of 51.3% together. When paired with Hamhuis, Bieksa’s Corsi% was 50.9%. Bieksa’s worst Corsi% came when he was briefly paired with Andrew Alberts or Keith Ballard.
Long story short, Bieksa is not a player that can carry a defence pairing on his own, but works best as a complementary player with a steady defenceman like Hamhuis or Garrison at his side. If Chris Tanev is ready to step into the top-four and play with Edler at even-strength, then Bieksa should have a return to form while playing the majority of the season with Hamhuis or Garrison.
Even though it wasn’t a great season for Bieksa, he still scored six goals, just two fewer than his previous season. Given the name of this series, we have every one of them.
Sometimes the best play is to just drive the puck at the net. When Mason Raymond’s centring pass goes awry, it caroms out to Bieksa along the boards. Devan Dubnyk picks up his slap shot late and it sneaks under his arm.
Bieksa benefits from some nice work by Alex Burrows and the Sedins. Burrows retrieves the puck on the forecheck, then creates some havoc in front of the net with Jay Bouwmeester as the Sedins cycle the puck out to Bieksa at the point. His slap shot deflects off Blair Jones out high and beats Leland Irving on the blocker side.
What a superb pass by Zack Kassian to set up Bieksa in the slot off the rush. My favourite part of the goal, however, is how the defence reacts to Bieksa crossing the blue line: they clearly expect him to take up his normal spot on the point as they all turn their backs on him and go about defending the rest of the Canucks’ powerplay. Meanwhile, Bieksa slips into the slot, taps his stick for the pass, and one-times it home.
This is just a superb slap shot, sending the puck over Ray Emery’s shoulder like a man-purse, while Burrows provides a perfectly timed screen. Edler deserves a lot of credit too for keeping the puck in at the line. With the net empty, this goal tied the game and ensured the Canucks got at least a point out of a game in which they were brutally outplayed by the Blackhawks.
This is the second goal by Bieksa off the rush in which he is way up on the play. For both, he’s paired with Hamhuis. This isn’t a coincidence. Hamhuis’s steadiness allows Bieksa to freewheel like this and it results in a beautiful goal. Hamhuis hits Bieksa with a great pass through the middle and Bieksa drives past the defender at full speed before flicking a backhand past Nilstorp.
Notice anything missing between the last goal and this one? How about an entire month. Bieksa went 13 games without a goal in the middle of the season, a slump compounded by injury troubles.
He gets back on the scoresheet on a 5-on-3 after Jason Garrison hobbles Jeff Petry with his trademark bomb. As soon as Petry goes down, Bieksa starts frantically tapping his stick on the ice, knowing he’ll have plenty of room for a shot. Henrik obliges and sets him up for the one-timer. Dubnyk has no chance.
The truly odd thing about these six goals is that there isn’t a wrist shot among them. One of Bieksa’s most common tendencies has been to use a wrist shot rather than a slap shot from the point, foregoing power for accuracy. This past season, his goals came from one-timers and slap shots, with a backhand tossed in for variety.Tags: Every Goal, Every Goal 2012-13, Kevin Bieksa