I love Kyle Wellwood more than most people. He's a little warrior with underrated defensive acumen and a great hockey sense. He's also a bit of an oddball; he's a quiet, humble guy who reads Ayn Rand, uses a tiny wooden two-piece stick, and finds television boring. He once went 159 games without a minor penalty. He's not a typical hockey player and his qualities are sometimes difficult to pinpoint, which would be the main reason, in my mind, that he hasn't yet received a contract offer this off-season. Frankly, he deserves one. He was one of the Canucks top forwards during the playoffs and, despite a slow start, still scored 14 goals while playing on the third line. And, since I love Wellwood so much, Harrison asked me to do the Every Goal post for Kyle Wellwood. You're not going to see any gorgeous wizardous sedinerie, but you will see a strong tendency to go hard to the net and some great hand-eye coordination.
1. Nov. 26 vs. the Los Angeles Kings (at 6:07 of clip)
Wellwood's first goal of the season was a long time coming: he didn't score a goal over the first 23 games of the season. It was initially thought that he broke his goalless drought at 7:18 of the third (5:37 in the video), but the goal was credited to Tanner Glass instead. I remember this game so well: everyone in GM Place (except for the Kings, who are bad) and watching on TV was rooting for him to get a goal to break the streak, including his teammates who fed him the puck for the empty netter. He finally managed to aggressively saucer-pass the puck into the net from just inside the blue line. The crowd game him a standing ovation and Wellwood grinned and stuck out his tongue. Oh Wellwood.
Steve Bernier makes a nice play on Kyle's second goal of the season, which came just two games later against the Sharks. Bernier chips it ahead to Wellwood who goes in with Tanner Glass on the 2-on-1. Wellwood, smartly, keeps the puck and saucer-passes it off the post and in. Typically, John Garrett has no idea what actually happened on the play and confuses Glass for Bernier. I swear, the colour guy is supposed to provide accurate analysis to aid the viewer in understanding the game, but John Garrett seems consistently confused. Also, Wellwood spent most of the season centering Bernier and Glass. Poor guy.
It took Wellwood another month to score his third goal of the season. He shows some speed on this play, forcing Pardy to chase him into the zone as Wellwood and Burrows execute a nice give and go. Burrows misses on the sweet feed back from Wellwood, but Pardy has taken himself out of the play, allowing Wellwood to tuck it in from behind the net.
It took a month to score his third, but just one more game to score his fourth. Seems to be a pattern. Throughout the rest of the Every Goal series, we've seen the surprising net presence of Wellwood. The little guy is not afraid to go to the front of the net to screen the goalie and he heads to that area at the right time when a shot is coming. This time it turns into a goal as he gets to the front of the net and skates out towards Edler who is taking a wrist shot from the side boards. He tips it beautifully over the blocker of LaBarbera. The rest of the clip features John Garrett explaining how it's Edler's goal, though it might have hit a Phoenix player on the way to the net. Poor Wellwood just can't get any respect.
For the second time on a Wellwood goal, a nifty pass from Bernier sets it up. This time, it's a sweet little backhand chip with only one hand on the stick. Seriously, it's ridiculous. Wellwood shows a nice burst of speed between two Dallas defencemen and flicks it neatly past Alex Auld. It's a very nice goal, all told. Shorty helpfully adds, "Did he need that." It's a statement, not a question. Of course he needed it, he hadn't scored in almost a month. Poor Wellwood.
This is Wellwood's first powerplay goal of the season: Kyle sneaks into position at the post and one-times a perfect pass from Mason Raymond into the net. Credit to Pavol Demitra too, who feeds Raymond the puck. This is a very pretty passing play and Elliott has no chance to make the save. Wellwood's sneakiness is underrated. He gets to scoring areas without being noticed. Probably because he's not very tall. Poor Wellwood.
7. Feb. 12 vs. the Columbus Blue Jackets (at 2:56 of clip)
A misplay by Steve Mason behind the net gives Kyle Wellwood ample opportunity to pass the puck hard into the back of the net. So far, Kyle has only cleanly beaten a goalie with a shot on two of his seven goals. That's not to say that a tip-in goal is less impressive, or that there's no value in a one-timer off some perfect passing, but it's fair to say that Wellwood's strength is not his shot. As a side note, listen to the beginning of the video to hear the Bluejackets colour man hilarious refer to Andrew Raycroft as Luongo not once, but twice. I guess I shouldn't complain so much about John Garrett. Oh wait, I totally should.
This goal bears some similarities to his 6th goal of the season as he converts a sweet Mason Raymond pass from in tight beside the net. Raymond can hardly believe that he has the puck after the giveaway from Clitsome, but controls it, saucers it to Wellwood, who actually buries the puck with some authority after he corrals it, even though the net is largely empty. This is the hardest shot he has taken thus far and it's possibly the most unnecessary.
The next night, Wellwood strikes again, this time on the breakaway. As soon as he has the puck on the breakaway, you know he's scoring. Kyle was money in the shootout as well, going 4 for 7. The most unusual aspect of this goal is that that Aaron Rome is the one who makes the breakout pass from his own end. Wellwood smartly camps at the blue line as the Wings make an ill-advised change and Rome sets him up perfectly. Jimmy Howard, recognizing that its Kyle Wellwood he's facing, goes down early, expecting Kyle to stick-handle it into the net. Instead, he freezes Howard and roofs it with something akin to authority.
Wellwood shows some great patience here, controlling the puck and waiting until Dwayne Roloson is completely out of position to flip it by him. A lot of the credit for this goal needs to go to Christian Ehrhoff, who blasts a point shot about half a foot off the ice, forcing Roloson to give up a monster rebound off his pads. This goal is akin to a few that Mason Raymond scored last season, just patiently controlling the puck before roofing it over the sprawled goaltender.
Another tip-in from Wellwood, again showing his net presence. Watch from 0:29 of the clip: Wellwood makes a nifty pass out to Henrik and immediately skates directly in front of Howard to the best spot to use as much of his minuscule body as possible to screen the much larger goaltender. Then, as Shane "Pain Lion" O'Brien moves the puck across to Ehrhoff at the other point, Wellwood tracks it across perfectly and takes a punishing hit to tip the puck between Howard's legs.
Wellwood's only two-goal game of the season started with this tap-in gift given to him by Pavol Demitra. Bernier (of the Jonathan variety) gives up a big rebound after a beautiful low slapshot by Alex Edler. Demitra fakes the shot then feeds it to Wellwood who's just waiting by the post to snap it home. This goal is very similar to his 6th and 8th goals on the season. That was a good spot on the ice for him.
His second goal of the game comes on his third tip-in of the season, and this one is a beauty. Wellwood stealthily sneaks in front of the net as Grabner lets a wristshot go; the shot is going wide, but Welly manages to get it with the shaft of his stick and re-direct it top corner. Bernier has no chance on this one at all.
Yet another tip-in from Wellwood for his final goal of the regular season, getting a piece of a Bieksa wrist shot while getting driven to the ice. This has been an odd collection of goals. He scored a few similar tap-in goals just by getting to the right area by the post and he showed his ability to tip point shots as well. It's clear he doesn't have a very hard shot; he never lets a snap shot go and his wrist shot bears a strong resemblance to a saucer-pass, but he's willing to go to tough areas on the ice and take punishment to make plays. But this series of goals demonstrates one of the main complaints about Wellwood: not a lot of consistency.
I was heartbroken by this one. The Canucks were 3-3-1 on the season at this point and the Oilers were up 2-1 in the dying seconds of the game. With 8 seconds left, Wellwood wound up from his own blue-line with more determination than we saw throughout the rest of the regular season (though it returned in the playoffs). He crossed into the offensive zone with speed, went outside-inside on Gilbert before stuffing it five-hole on Khabibulin...a second too late. Time ran out, no goal, Canucks loss.
Something about the Oilers makes Kyle Wellwood want to be a hero. If this puck had gone in, this would have been the second best goal scored by a Canuck on the season (it still wouldn't have been as nice as Daniel's fantastic between-the-legs goal). Welly seemingly dekes out the entire Edmonton Oilers lineup, as well as Pat Quinn, on his way to the net and Deslauriers has to absurdly do the splits across the entire goal line to prevent Wellwood from stickhandling the puck directly in.