February 29 2012 12:57PM
They've broken our hearts, game after game, year after year.
(Photo/graphic courtesy @mhenderson95)
This is the first of a two-part post where we chronicle and count down the top 10 Canuck Killers active in the NHL today.
The term "Canucks Killer" has been around for many years and Canucks fans are well aware of what it means. There's just a few players out there, who always seem to go for the jugular when they face Vancouver's club. A "Canuck Killer" scores frequently, tallies key disheartening goals, or just racks up points game after game. When you see a Canucks Killer, you know it. He's the player who can turn any Canucks fan briefly turn into Marlon Brando from Apocalypse Now, desperately whispering "the horror, the horror" at their television set.
I decided to track them all down, quantify them, rank them and share them all with you, because Canucks fans don't have enough to stress out about these days. Let's take a look at which active NHLers consistently use voice modulation software when calling the Canucks on their cell-phones in order to threaten them...
To lead off, though, here's a list of the Honourable Mentions - players who have had strong career stats against the Canucks but didn't quite make the cut:
Ryan Smyth, Chris Pronger, Tomas Holmstrom, Jon-Michael Liles, David Legwand, Brian Rolston, Mikko Koivu, Pavel Datsuyk, Henrik Zetterberg, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Dustin Bfuglien, Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf.
That's right, kids. These players DIDN'T rank in the top 10. Granted we know that Dustin Bfuglien and Patrick Kane lit up the Canucks during the 2009 and 2010 playoffs, but we're focused specifically on the regular season here. If you give them a few more seasons of torching the Canucks at their current clip, Getzlaf and Perry will surely be on this list - but at the moment they just don't have quite the point totals to match our top 10 Canuck Killers.
And with that... HERE WE GO!
10. Marion Gaborik
Career stats vs. Canucks: 39 GP; 19G 14A 33Pts; +4; 4PPG 5PPA; 1 GWG
In his time with the Minnesota Wild, Gaborik eviscerated the Canucks game after game. His 0.487 Goals-per-game against the Canucks ranks second among our finalists. If not for a stunted career in Minnesota rife with injuries, Gaborik would have dined on the Canucks at an even higher rate.
Gabby's speed and skill simply outmatched the Canucks when he played for the Wild, especially when he was shooting against the likes of Dan Cloutier and Alex Auld. Luckily for Vancouver hockey fans, he was done in by his own body, like a ghost that gets sucked into a vacuum. Now reasonably healthy, Gaborik is an impressive force in New York. Thankfully for the Canucks, he rarely plays against Vancouver now that he is simply a beast in the East.
Gaborik vs Canucks - Feb 15, 2008
Gaborik's renowned speed are on full display on this dazzling rush through the Canucks defence. Gaborik takes a pass from Keith Carney near his own blue line, backs the Canucks defence up into their own zone as he charges in. He then puts a juke and a head fake on Willie Mitchell and gets Mitchell turned the wrong way. That gives Gaborik enough room to get centred on the net, and then he buries it past Luongo.
9. Rick Nash
Career stats vs. Canucks: 34 GP; 14G 14A 28Pts; -8 ; 3PPG 5PPA; 3 GWG
While Nash's overall point totals against the Canucks aren't that impressive, his goals-per-game rate is. So is his game-winning-goal ratio. 1GWG per 11 GP is pretty intense, and it means that when Nash plays the Canucks - he scores when it counts.
While Nash's fate with the Blue Jackets, (a team whose home arena is clearly built on some sort of Indian Burial Ground), is twisting in the wind - one thing is for sure: he comes to play when he faces the Canucks. That said, in the past two seasons combined, Nash has only 1A in 7 GP against the Canucks. You could see that as a negative on Nash's "Canucks killer" resume, but I'd rather focus on the fact that Nash's totals against Vancouver up to the end of the 2009-10 season are flat-out ridiculous.
If you take out this season and last, where the Blue Jackets have been abyssmally bad, Nash is a point-per-game player against the Canucks. That would easily move him into the top 5 Canuck Killers. So when Nash moves to a different team next season, and hopefully for his sake it's a quality club (and hopefully for the Canucks sake, a quality Eastern conference club) you can look for him to regain his Canuck Killer form.
Nash vs. Canucks - February 12, 2010
Nash scores less than 30 seconds in, on the game's first shot. That's an efficient Canucks slasher moment. What's more, this goal is ALL Nash. He takes the pass inside his own faceoff dot. He barrels up ice, charging down the right side and forcing the Canucks defenders to retreat in a hurry. Once he is in a decent shooting location, he pivots just enough to get Alex Edler to shift toward him, causing a screen. Then Nash makes Andrew Raycroft look like Drew Barrymore in Scream.
8. Ray Whitney
Career stats vs. Canucks: 47 GP; 11G 28A 39Pts; -10; 4PPG 15PPA; 1 GWG
Ray Whitney has been carted around the league more than Bubbles pushing a shopping buggy full of long white T-shirts. Whitney has spent more than 10 seasons, off and on, in the Western Conference (with SJ, EDM, CBJ, DET, and PHX) and has put up some big points against the Canucks, especially on the power play.
That said, up until his goal last night, Whitney hadn't registered a point against the Canucks since Dec 5, 2009. Up until that point, however, Whitney was essentially a point-per-game player against the Canucks. But then last night, after being dormant for three seasons, Whitney rose from the dead like Jason and burned the Canucks for the Coyotes only goal in regulation. he then scored what would be the deciding goal in the shootout to win it for the home team.
Whitney vs. Canucks - Dec 5, 2009
Whitney scores only 20 seconds after Jannik Hansen opened the scoring. A bad read by the Canucks and Whitney capitalizes on the blown coverage. This was Whitney's last goal against the Canucks before his game-tying marker last night in Phoenix.
7. Nicklas Lidstrom
Career stats vs. Canucks: 76 GP; 13G 42A 55Pts; +2; 9PPG 22PPA; 2 GWG
Lidstrom has been deadly against the Canucks for nearly two decades now. His 42 assists against the Canucks ranks second among all our Canuck Killer finalists, as does his 31 PP points. To add to his impressive totals, he always knew how to kill the Canucks when it counted the most...
Lidstrom vs. Canucks - April 21, 2002
The other goals we've shown are all regular season goals, in keeping with the theme of our posts. However, we would be remiss if we didn't show this goal as Lidstrom's example.
Lidstrom scores one of the most notorious and painful goals in Canucks history. This was the definitive turning point of the series. Detroit went on to outscore the Canucks 15-6 once Lidstrom wired this shot past Cloutier from centre ice, and the Canucks never led in any game, losing this game and the next three to bow out to the Red Wings. The video is somewhat grainy, the music is positively ear-splitting, and Don Cherry is ghoulish - so the video is pretty much perfect. Go to 1:21 to relive the horror.
6. Jarome Iginla
Career stats vs. Canucks: 84 GP; 27G 43A 70Pts; -1; 9PPG 15PPA; 2 GWG
Jarome Iginla had the good fortune of playing against some defensively challenged Canucks teams. Up until, and including, the 2008-09, Iginla had feasted on the flesh of the Canucks, most often with fava beans and a nice cianti. For the past 3 years, however, the Canucks have handled Iginla and shut him down by refusing to engage him in his typical way.
When Iginla gets fired up and physical, he plays like a demon. It only took a dozen seasons, but the Canucks finally figured out that if you leave him alone, Iginla isn't quite the same force. But Jarome Iginla certainly spent enough time manhandling the Canucks to rack up an impressive point total.
Iginla vs. Canucks - March 25, 2008
With the Flames down 2-0 after the first period in Vancouver, Iginla took over. With the end of the second period approaching, Iginla takes a pass at centre, gets on his horse and absolutely blows by the Canucks defense, bowls over Luongo and the puck goes in. Total power goal. The Flames went on to win in OT, and Iginla was named first star.
Part 2 of this post, where we count down to the #1 active Canuck Killer, will come your way tomorrow!