Monday, September 13, 2010

Every Goal, Defenseman Edition: Christian Ehrhoff

Last year's Canuck defense corps scored 42 of the team's 268 goals, an impressive total good for second among team scoring by defenseman to the Phoenix Coyotes. Offense from the blue line was preached all season long, and the offensive abilities of a newly-acquired Christian Ehrhoff and a still-developing Alex Edler were allowed to flourish. With this year's acquisitions of Keith Ballard and Dan Hamhuis, as well as, hopefully, a healthy Kevin Bieksa, these numbers could be even higher. But why are we looking ahead? Let's take this week to revisit each and every one of the 42 goals scored by a Canuck defenseman. In bold, you will find each goal's chronological standing among the 42. Up today: Christian Ehrhoff and his 14 goals.

1. Oct. 5 vs. the Columbus Blue Jackets
Ehrhoff's first goal of the season is a pretty typical defender's goal: he slaps one past Steve Mason, which was common last year. The majority of Canuck defenseman's goals are of this sort, because it's part of their offensive philosophy. They work down low, primarily, try to draw traffic and create chaos there, then feed to open defenseman for shots and rebounds. Sometimes, as in this case, those shots just go right in. How boring. More interesting to me is the forward line that's on the ice: it's Steve Bernier, Darcy Hordichuk, and Kyle Wellwood. We will never see this line again... and now I'm crying.

2. Oct. 16 vs. the Calgary Flames (5)
I keep forgetting that Michael Grabner was with the Canucks early in the season too. Here he is, in the background of this goal. Anyway, this one is Kesler and Ehrhoff, as was often the case last season. While the Sedins have a special bond with Salo, Ehrhoff seemed to function as the fourth forward with the second line, likely because he could keep up with them. On the power play, he takes a drop pass from Kesler off the rush, and wrists it past Kipper.

3. Oct. 27 vs. the Detroit Red Wings (6)
Like Ehrhoff's last goal, this one is the result of a Kesler pass on the rush. One of the reasons Ehrhoff had success with the Canucks, as well as a reason he was a great pickup is that Ehrhoff is a rush defenseman--he doesn't need to be stationary to receive a pass and shoot. That mobility made him a unique member of the d-corps, and one of the reasons he, Kesler, and Raymond seemed to work so well together. Unlike the Sedins, who stickhandle in a phone booth and work a magical cycle game, Raymond and Kesler never stop moving, and to play with them, you have to do the same.

4. Nov. 20 vs. the Colorado Avalanche (9)
Ehrhoff's first multi-goal game as a Canuck begins with a power play one-timer. Wellwood wins the draw to Edler, to feeds it to Ehrhoff, who slaps it high, stick-side for the tally. I've said more than enough about Edler's power play passing in previous posts of the Every Game series. In summary: I think he's good at it.

5. Nov. 20 vs. the Colorado Avalanche (10)
As I said earlier, Ehrhoff works primarily with Kesler and Ramond. They pick up the assists as he drifts into the slot after their good board work.

6. Nov. 28 vs. the Edmonton Oilers (11)
Don't be fooled by the flubbed call--it's Christian Ehhoff, not Kevin Bieksa who slaps this one home. Again, a typical defensemen goal. I said earlier that Ehrhoff is a defensemen who can play on the rush, but that doesn't mean he lacks a great slap shot.

7. Dec. 3 vs. the Philadelphia Flyers (16)
Ehrhoff here does his best Salo impression, taking a Sedin pass and one-timing it past Brian Boucher. Daniel's stickwork to get open, draw some defenders away from Ehrhoff, and then set it up, is typical wizardous sedinerie.

8. Dec. 26 vs. the Edmonton Oilers (20)
Christian Ehrhoff with the end-to-end rush. He works a beautiful give and go with... wait for it... Rick Rypien, and then takes the "go" and roofs it on Deslauriers. It's a beautiful goal and a testament to Ehrhoff's speed, as Gilbert is no Andrew Alberts.

9. Dec. 31 vs. the St. Louis Blues (21)
This goal is borne out of an excellent pass from Kyle Wellwood. Kesler gains the zone and goes straight to the net for a screen, and Wellwood uses his vision to find Ehrhoff across the ice for the overtime winner.

10. Jan. 21 vs. the Dallas Stars (25)
This goal is nearly identical to Brad Lukowich's goal against the Buffalo Sabres. There's a back pass, some Sedin magic (actually it's Burrows, but whatever), and a defensemen streaking through the middle where there's space as a result of the threat of the forwards. Ehrhoff's speed and ability to read the play is on display here, as are his hands. Watching this now and noting that the Sedins pulled off the same play twice, part of me wonders if this isn't a play that's been drawn up in the locker room. The trick here is the way they freeze the other teams' defensemen. Once they stop skating, one of the Canucks defenseman comes streaking through the center of the zone at top speed. It's kind of brilliant, but requires a speedy defenseman and incredible stickhandling in order to pull off. Luckily, the Sedins and Ehrhoff are up to the task.

11. Jan. 27 vs. the St. Louis Blues (27)
Ehrhoff here with a Mikael Samuelsson impression, shooting the puck from a ridiculous angle and having success. Note, again, the net presence of Kyle Wellwood, which we at Pass it to Bulis will always claim is vital. In fairness to Welly, he does always seem to be there. The highlights don't lie.

12. Mar. 2 vs. the Columbus Blue Jackets (30)
Another overtime winner, this time Ehrhoff is the fortune recipient of a lucky bounce, as Kesler's attempt to redirect the puck in actually sends it behind the net. It bounces off the wall and right to Ehrhoff, who puts it in from a tight angle. He barely gets anything on it, but Mason is so far out of position it hardly matters. Pay attention, yet again, to Alex Burrows' passing ability and vision.

13. Mar. 10 vs. the Phoenix Coyotes (33)
This play is all Pavol Demitra, as he somehow coaxes Ilya Brzygalov into leaving the crease and going on a holiday to the corner boards. Then he centers the puck. Ehrhoff is there and he puts it into the open net. What does Brzygalov think he's going to do from there? Here you get a sense, though, of how quickly Ehrhoff can go from the blue line to the crease, which may be one of his greatest assets.

14. Mar. 24 vs. the Anaheim Ducks (37)
Ehrhoff's 14th goal of the season comes on a point shot that beats Jonas Hiller cleanly. It's a typical defenseman's goal, and, this late into this list, I have nothing to add.


  1. I actually quite like Ferraro's call on Ehrhoff's 14th goal: "It's like a conga line in front of Hiller."

  2. I misread your comment as "It's like a conga line in front of Hitler," which is a completely different sort of conga line, I tell you what.

  3. "What" pronounced as "hwat," of course.


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