Canucks defenceman Alexander Edler has publicly announced he will test free agency. With the departure of Edler, there are now no active players on the roster that competed for the 2011 Stanley Cup. Now is the perfect time to reminisce on the good old days in Vancouver.
The Boys In Blue
The 2011 Vancouver Canucks were special and could very well have been the best team the Canucks had in the 40 seasons. The Canucks were led by their captain and Sweedish Superstar Henrik Sedin and his twin Daniel Sedin. Alongside the Sedin twins were the electric play of Ryan Kesler and Alex Burrows, both of which knew how to get the fans of Vancouver pumped night in and night out. Speedster Mason Raymond, as well as workhorses Mikael Samuelsson and Jannik Hansen, brought it every night to help the Canucks potent offense tear up the NHL. No one has forgotten about the other forwards such as Maxim Lapierre, Raffi Torres, Manny Malhotra just to name a few.
The 2011 blueline of offensive and defensive studs. Starting with the big Europeans Alexander Edler and Christian Ehrhoff, combing for 83 points on the season. Mr. Hipcheck himself Dan Hamhuis, Hamhuis was a menace in the neutral zone when he was healthy. Keith Ballard was no slouch himself blocking shots and throwing his body around every chance he got. No one has forgotten about still to this day fan-favorite Kevin Bieksa, the heart and soul of the Canucks for many years. Sami Salo, Andrew Alberts, Aaron Rome, and rookie Chris Tanev also showing heart throughout the 2011 season played a role in the Canucks Success.
Then there was the two-headed dragon between the pipes. Star goaltender Roberto Luongo who was just one short year removed from winning gold in Vancouver for Canada and his partner in crime, young budding star Cory Schneider.
The Canucks kicked off the season at home against the Los Angeles Kings with a 40th-anniversary ceremony. They would lose their first games and things would look bleak, starting the season 2-3-1. The Canucks would then depart on a five-game road trip going 2-2-1, then returning home to take on fierce rivals in the Chicago Blackhawks. The Canucks would get mauled by the Blackhawks 7-1. After the Blackhawks came into town and beat up on the Canucks they would get the kick they needed going 18-4-3 including a lengthy eight-game winning streak. The Canucks would reach 100 points on March 14th, marking their franchise quickest time to reach 100 points. Two days later they would clinch their first President Trophy.
Many milestones were hit in 2011 for Canucks players. Tanev and Cody Hodgson would score their first career goals. Raymond and Torres would both get their 100th career points. Kesler and Burrows would each score the 100th career goal. Henrik Sedin would notch his 500th career assist, while Daniel would score the Canucks 10,000th goal in franchise history.
On a less happy note, 2011 would mark tough guy and fan-favorite Rick Rypien‘s last season in the NHL. After an altercation in Minnesota, Rypien would be sent down to Manitoba for the remainder of the season and the following off-season the hockey world would lose Rypien. His legacy lives on within Hockey Talks (find more information here).
Lots of individual hardware was brought home in 2011. Daniel Sedin won the Ted Lindsay and Art Ross Trophy. Well, Kesler won the Selke, and Luongo and Schnider shared the William M. Jennings trophy. Mike Gillis would cap it off by winning GM of the Year.
The number one seeded Canucks would draw the first-round matchup much to fan’s displeasure of the Chicago Blackhawks. The Canucks and Blackhawks had met two years in a row prior with the Blackhawks ripping Canucks fans’ hearts out twice, but in 2011 the Canucks got the last laugh beating the Blackhawks in seven games after blowing a 3-0 series lead thanks to Burrows’ “Dragon Slaying” overtime goal.
The second round saw the Canucks meeting the Nashville Predators for the first time in franchise history. Vancouver would go on to beat the Predators in six games and punch their ticket to the Western Conference Finals.
In the Western Conference Finals, the Canucks would go head to head with the San Jose Sharks. The Canucks would have the Sharks against the ropes in game five. Game five would find itself in double overtime when a puck would take an unheard-of bounce and everyone on the ice would lose sight of it, that is everyone except Bieksa who would ripe a slapshot from the point and send Vancouver to their first Stanley Cup Final since 1994.
In the Finals the Canucks would meet their toughest challenge yet in the Boston Bruins. The Canucks would open game one with a dramatic 1-0 victory. Vancouver then would steal game two with a 3-2 overtime victory. Looking to get a stranglehold on the Bruins in game three the Canucks would head to Boston a drama would ensue. Just five minutes into the first period Aaron Rome would blindside Nathan Horton and receive a five-minute major and a suspension for the rest of the series. Boston would take game three with a whopping 8-1 score, game three consisted of 143 total penalty minutes. Game four Vancouver would turn the crease over to Cory Schnider who would not fair much better allowing four goals in the loss while both teams notched 66 penalty minutes. Game five would shift to Vancouver and Luongo would get the net back where he would secure his second shutout of the finals and Vancouver would win 1-0, taking a 3-2 series lead. With the Bruin’s backs against the wall at home, they needed a spark, and just 20 seconds into game six one of the most controversial plays in the series happened. Mason Raymond would get hit from behind and awkwardly go into the board resulting in a fractured vertebra. Boston would force a game seven with their 5-2 win. Game seven would start off all Boston and proceed to finish all Boston, with the Bruins hoisting the Stanley inside Rogers Arena after a 4-0 game seven victory. We will not get into the aftermath of the finals as it still haunts Vancouver ten years later.
2011 Now Just A Memory
Although we are ten years removed from the 2011 season fans still reminisce on what could have been. Edler and company may now be gone and the Canucks are a whole new squad but that 2011 team will forever live in Canucks fans’ hearts. Now fans just have to sit back and wait for the new Canucks to find their path and redeem the 2011 squad.
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