Althought David Booth may not want to hear it, the best shot fired at a bear last season from a Canuck came from someone else. January 7th, 2012 was a date that Boston and Vancouver fans, coaches, management, and most importantly players had circled in their calendars for months (and months). It was the first time that the two teams were going to face each other since Boston defeated Vancouver in seven games during the 2011 Stanley Cup Final.
There were some new faces on each side, including rookie Cody Hodgson. The game absolutely delivered on all of the hype and attention leading up to it. The Canucks started Cory Schneider in his hometown, and many fans assumed that the Canucks were "hiding" Roberto Luongo after he had been shelled in each of the three games the Canucks played in Boston during the final.
Schneider played great, allowing only three goals on 36 shots. There was no love lost between the two teams, either. Alex Burrows and Max Lapierre combined for 29 penalty minutes. Weise immersed himself in the rivalry by dropping the gloves with Nathan Horton, and Brad Marchand paid respects to his favorite movie U-571 with a malicious low-bridge on Canuck defenseman Sami Salo.
The Canucks were able to do something that eluded them the previous June – leave Boston with a win. The TSN turning point of the night (and Boston’s season, for that matter) came about five minutes into the third period. Dan Hamhuis spotted Cody Hodgson on the right wing, and Hodgson carried the puck into the Boston zone. You know what happened next.
Let’s break it down:
Hamhuis eludes the forechecking Dan Paille, finds some open ice, and looks to make a pass out of the defensive zone. Hamhuis is one of the best in the league at using his speed to get the puck up the ice quickly, and it is a huge reason why he has succeeded in Vancouver and Keith Ballard has not.
He finds Hodgson on the right wing. Hodgson had already assisted on a goal earlier in the game, when he hammered a puck on the PP that Alex Burrows found a way to deflect past Thomas. Hodgson brings the puck up the ice, and the Bruins defense is out of position. He has a lot of room to make a play.
Hodgson winds up for a slap shot. His stick gets completely perpendicular to the ice. The puck begins to cower in fear. Hodgson’s slap shot had already been on display earlier this season. For a forward, he can absolutely hammer the puck.
The puck has no idea what is about to hit it (spoiler alert: Hodgson’s stick).
Hodgson gets all of his shot. The puck rockets past Thomas. It catches the underside of the crossbar, drops to the ice, and ends up in the net. The perfect shot. Bar down with a nice "ping" – hard to find a nicer goal in hockey.
The Canucks failed to break Thomas during the 2011 Final. He stopped first shots, second shots, and almost everything else. Hodgson didn’t care. He beat Thomas clean – no screen, no distractions.
This goal was an easy choice for the top moment of last year. It came during the biggest game of the season (by far). It was scored by Hodgson, who was involved in just about every big storyline from last season. It led to a second half slump for Bruins (and Thomas, in particular). The Canucks, self-admittedly, weren’t the same team after this game either.
January 7th, 2012 – The goal that broke Tim Thomas.
The rest of the top 10:
- #10 – Max Lapierre, Coyote Hunter
- #9 – Ryan Kesler, Shoot First Pass Later
- #8 – David Booth, Net Crasher
- #7 – Aaron Rome and the Bionic Hand
- #6 – The Name is Bitz
- #5 – The Multitasking Kevin Bieksa
- #4 – Cory Schneider’s Arrival
- #3 – Cory Schneider’s Arrival (Part II)
- #2 – Alex Burrows, Streak Breaker