They’ve broken our hearts, game after game, year after year.
(Photo/graphic courtesy @mhenderson95)
This is the second part of a two-part post where we chronicle and count down the top 10 Canuck Killers active in the NHL today. Read part one here.
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 take the Canucks to task.
What you should notice pretty damn quickly is that this list is full of current and ex-Avalanche players. In the early part of the oughts, the Avs had no qualms with annihilating the Canucks game in and game out. Of course, the Avalanche weren’t alone there. There were also heavy doses of pantsings at the hands of the Ducks and Sharks thrown in for good measure.
5. Andrew Brunette
Career stats vs. Canucks: 69 GP; 20G 38A 58Pts; +11; 9PPG 11PPA; 3 GWG
Although Brunette spent 6 of his first 7 seasons in the Eastern Conference, he has still had plenty of time to murder the Canucks. When Brunette moved to the Minnesota Wild for the 2000-01 season, it started a long and successful run of padding his stats and breaking hearts in Canucks Nation. He grabbed 2 points in two games against the Canucks that season, and continued to scoop up points against Vancouver in his first stint with the Wild.
It was when Brunette moved to the Avalanche post-lockout, however, that when the REAL smack-down began. In 2005-06, Brunette had 3G 8A for 11 Pts in 8 GP against Vancouver. He followed that up with 8 points in 2006-07, and 10 points in 2007-08. His years in Colorado were his best as a Canuck Killer but he continues to burn them as a 38-year-old. Only now, he’s with the hated Chicago Blackhawks. Does it get any worse than that?
Brunette vs Canucks – Nov 4, 2006
This game was all about Brunette. He opened the scoring for the Avalanche to tie the game at 1. But he scored THIS beauty to win the game for Colorado. Avs captain Joe Sakic fishes the puck out from behind the Canucks net, while Brunette and Henrik Sedin battle for possession. While the Canucks move out to the point to cover, Brunette takes the pass from the point behind EVERYONE and dekes Luongo out of his shorts to scores the game winner. An absolute killer. Brunette was rightly named the game’s first star with 2 goals.
4. Alex Tanguay
Career stats vs. Canucks: 59 GP; 19G 37A 56Pts; +12 ; 2PPG 11PPA; 0 GWG
Alex Tanguay is a career Canuck Killer, thanks to an after-life spent in the Northwest Division. To give you some perspective on his ability to murderously ambush the Canucks, his career stats per-game looks like this: 0.27 G; 0.56 A; 0.83 Pts. Basically Tanguay he scores 5 points every 6 games in the NHL, which, is nothing to sniff at.
His per-game production rate against the Canucks, however, is even higher: 0.32 G; 0.63 A; 0.95 Pts. In terms of averages, that is a HUGE bump in career per-game numbers, and evidence that Tanguay has consistently elevated his game against the Canucks.
In just his second season in the league, Tanguay racked up 9 points in 5 games against the Canucks in 2000-01, including a 5 point game on January 18, 2001 – The best single-game performance of ANY of the Canuck Killer finalist. In fact, it’s one of only five 5-point games against the Canucks since 2000-01. (And before you say to yourself, "Five 5-point games! That’s a lot!" The Canucks are very much in the bottom half of teams that have surrendered 5+ point games in the last 11 seasons.)
Tanguay vs. Canucks – November 27, 2005
Alex Tanguay has 3 assists and was named the game’s second star, topped only by Joe Sakic. This goal, the game’s opening tally, saw Milan Hejduk score a mere 11 seconds in, after a dynamite, seeing-eye flip pass from Tanguay at centre ice. Tanguay forces the turnover along the boards, then flips the pass to Hejduk between Sami Salo and Mattias Ohlund. Hejduk OF COURSE goes into score. The forward line that the Avs used to open the game: Joe Sakic centering Hejduk and Tanguay. It almost wasn’t fair. The Avs opened up a 4-0 lead and eventually demolished the Canucks 6-2.
3. Joe Thornton
Career stats vs. Canucks: 38 GP; 11G 33A 44Pts; +7; 3PPG 17PPA; 3 GWG
In 2007-08, Thornton scored 9 points in 4 regular season games against the Canucks, including 2 3-point games. Thornton has been somewhat less effectively against the Canucks in the last 2 seasons, and has resorted to petty trolling (like when heHenrik Sedin the stink glove while the players discuss things with the on-ice officials).
But Joe Thornton is one of only two bonafide Canuck Killer to notch points at more than a point-per-game pace. Along with that is the fact that 3 of Thornton’s 11 career goals against the Canucks stood up as game winners. 11 goals sounds like a low number, especially compared to others in this list, but lest we forget that he is first and foremost a setup man, and he’s STILL scored 11 goals in only 38 games.
Thronton vs. Canucks – Jan 10, 2008
In this short clip, Thornton makes 5 different passes before Milan Michalek ultimately puts it home. This goal shows how Thornton is a pure General on the ice, especially running the power play. The Sharks won on this day by a final score of 3-1, with Thornton assisting on all three Sharks goals on his way to being named the game’s first star. Even more impressive is the fact that, in this game, Joe Thornton made Craig Rivet looked good. Rivet… who now plays for the Elmira Jackals of the ECHL.
2. Milan Hejduk
Career stats vs. Canucks: 76 GP; 36G 31A 67Pts; +12; 10PPG 9PPA; 9 GWG
It should come as absolutely no surprise that, as Hejduk’s production against the Canucks has trailed off over the last 3 season, so has the Av’s winning percentage against Vancouver. When Hejduk scores against the Canucks, the Avs win, when Hejduk tallies a point, the Avs win. Thankfully for Canucks fans Hejduk has notched only 9 points against the Canucks in the past three seasons in 14 GP, with 5 of those 9 points coming in 2 games in 2010-11.
Though his success against the Canucks has fallen off over the past few seasons, Hedjuk has proven for 13 NHL seasons that he can and will torch the Canucks whenever he is given the chance to do so. His 9 game-winning goals against Vancouver is flat-out amazing. This means that Hejduk has scored the game-winning goal roughly once in every eight games against the Canucks.
Hejduk vs. Canucks – April 5, 2007
25 Seconds… that’s all it took for Milan Hejduk to open the scoring. And WOW, did he make the Canucks look ridiculous on this goal. He takes the puck on a turnover near the blueline in the offensive zone, then quickly goes through both Willie Mitchell and Kevin Bieksa, before going far-side high-blocker on Luongo. This is just a nasty goal and epitomized how Hejduk could take a simple turnover and roast the Canucks in a matter of seconds. Hejduk scored all three goals in this game en route to a 3-1 win for the Avs. Once again, Hejduk positively owned the Canucks on this night.
1. Teemu Selanne
Career stats vs. Canucks: 71 GP; 38G 45A 83Pts; -10; 20PPG 24PPA; 6 GWG
It is shockingly difficult to find a game in the last 10 years in which Selanne was statistically a dominant force, at least based on basic stats like goals, assists and points. And that’s not to suggest that the Canucks have controlled Teemu later in his career. Oh no. Far from it. Selanne continues to gobble up points against Vancouver, much in the same way that I eat popcorn: voraciously, consistently and with impunity.
He has been completely relentless in his ability to produce offense when playing the Canucks. His 1.17 points-per-game against the Canucks is beyond astounding. It is WAY above anybody else considered a Canuck Killer. Even among the best Canucks foes, he is THE BEST Canucks foe. Quiet, efficient, ruthless. He is the Keyser Soze of Canucks opponents. He’ll burn you alive before you even knew it happened.
Selanne vs. Canucks – March 11, 2007
This is a pretty typical, dominant Teemu Selanne performance against the Canucks. 2PPG and 3 points against Vancouver in a 4-2 Ducks victory. This is as close to a flashy Selanne game as you’ll find against the Canucks in the last 10 years. Selanne opened the scoring in the first period, but finished off the scoring for the evening with this beauty. Selanne deftly emerges untouched from the corner, drives to the net, takes a shot then picks up his own rebound (which went BEHIND the net) and slots home his second of the night. Beautiful goal from one of the best of all-time.