Friday, September 10, 2010
Posted by Harrison Mooney
With Canucks-type hockey-matches coming up this weekend, I am absolutely pumped for this season. One reason? Mason Raymond. I was on the bubble about him a couple years ago, but I absolutely fell in love with his play last year. I get the feeling that Canucks fans are skeptical that he'll repeat that performance, but now I've swung the other way, and I think he will. Why? Raymond scored 25 goals last season, and only two of them were flukes. Most were the result of some pretty high-end offensive skills, and a nose for the open areas. Don't believe me? Here is every goal Mason Raymond scored last season. All twenty-five, in order. See for yourself; he's good.
1. Oct. 7 vs. the Montreal Canadiens
Raymond chips the puck past defenseman Yannick Weber to create a 2-on-1. He breaks in with speed, fights off the check of Maxim Lapierre, and goes backhand on Carey Price.
2. Oct. 24 vs. the Toronto Maple Leafs
On a mad scramble in the crease, Mason Raymond notches a powerplay goal when Joey MacDonald can't corral a Christian Ehrhoff shot. Michael Grabner is also there causing confusion, but it's Raymond's goal.
3. Oct. 24 vs. the Toronto Maple Leafs
In the same game, Raynmond scores the empty-netter that ices it after the Canucks hit about fifty posts trying to do the same thing. Some empty-netters are easy. Not this one. If Raymond isn't one of the fastest skaters in the league, he's not be the first one to the loose puck after Alex Burrows hits a post from the blue line.
4. Oct. 30 vs. the Anaheim Ducks
Raymond gets in behind the Ducks defense and outwaits Jonas Hiller with a move he's quite fond of. You know the one: he drags the puck across the crease, gets the goalie to stretch out, and then roofs it.
5. Nov. 1 vs. the Colorado Avalanche (at 0:05 of clip)
Raymond does a great job of forechecking on this one and is one the principle reasons the Avalanche can't get it out of the zone. It slides to Alex Edler at the blue line, who just throws it at the net. Raymond is there, however, to tip it past Craig Anderson for his fifth of the season.
6. Nov. 5 vs. the Minnesota Wild
Another Canucks powerplay goal, this one is on a wicked wrist shot after a tape-to-tape cross-ice pass from Alex Edler at the blueline. Edler's passing ability is severely underrated. So is Raymond's wrist shot. It shouldn't be. This won't be the last time this season he makes a perfect shot, and I have personally witnessed Raymond win the accuracy competiton at Canucks Super Skills. He can wire it.
7. Nov. 6 vs. the Dallas Stars
Raymond is the lucky benefactor of Kevin Bieksa simply throwing the puck at the net. Why he's so deep is beyond me, but if there's one thing Kevin Bieksa does well, it's create offense by being way out of position. When it's good, it's so, so good. Raymond is Johnny on the spot here, as Turco gives up a fat rebound from a bad angle and he buries it.
8. Nov. 12 vs. the Detroit Red Wings (at 1:58 of clip)
It's incredible that this isn't Raymond's luckiest goal of the season. He tries to park himself in front during a power play, but gets so thoroughly outmuscled by Brad Stuart that he winds up off-balance, about six feet from the boards. Bieksa shoots the puck, and it caroms off the only Raymond skate on the ice to beat Howard.
9. Nov. 28 vs. the Edmonton Oilers
A power play goal, but it hardly matters. Raymond wires a wrist shot from the dot that beats Deslauriers high glove side.
10. Dec. 10 vs. the Atlanta Thrashers
Off a drop pass from Kevin Bieksa, Mikael Samuelsson makes a beautiful pass to Raymond, who is heading to the net. He tips it past Pavelec, who is busy trying to dealing with a Ryan Kesler screen in front. One thing I'm noticing in these clips? Kevin Bieksa is everywhere. Not that it's always a good thing, but it creates offense.
11. Dec. 12 vs. the Minnesota Wild
Guess who starts this play? Kevin Bieksa. He makes a nice dangle to keep it away from his checker, then gives it off to Henrik, who skates behind the net and makes a crazy backpass to Raymond. All Raymond has to do is tap it in. He does.
12. Dec. 14 vs. the Los Angeles Kings
Again we are reminded of Raymond's speed. Consider that this is a 2-on-2 when the Canucks enter the zone. By the time Kesler brings the play in onside, however, Raymond is already behind both defensemen. His patented backhand deke seals the deal.
13. Dec. 18 vs. the Washington Capitals
I notice here that Raymond tends to score on 2-on-1 situations when he keeps the puck. Here, he breaks away with Henrik Sedin, who shows an impressive burst of speed, and makes a sick deke to tie the game at two.
14. Dec. 18 vs. the Washington Capitals
I don't remember this game, particularly, but everyone sounds really pumped, so this must have been a huge goal. Raymond picks up a rebound and does that thing he does where he brings it across the crease and goes roof over a goaltender that's down. I'd include it in any scouting report on the guy, but it wouldn't do a whole lot of good. By the time you realize he's doing it, you're on your stomach facing the end boards, so whatever. Keep 'em coming, MayRay.
15. Dec. 27 vs. the Calgary Flames
The night of Raymond's first career hat trick, he starts the scoring off by stretching out to receive and redirect a Mikael Samuelsson pass with one hand on the stick. It's pretty cool.
16. Dec. 27 vs. the Calgary Flames
Raymond's luckiest goal of the season. At center ice, he digs the puck out of a pile of guys and just kind of flips it into the air. It lands in the net. Kiprusoff and Sutter's heads basically explode.
17. Dec. 27 vs. the Calgary Flames
Raymond gets the hat trick on another sick cross-ice pass from Alex Edler. He one-times it home, which is the first time we've seen that, although McElhinney is so far out of position that a Kyle Wellwood slapshot could have beaten him (if Welly bore down). I should again take the time to point out that Edler's passing ability is incredible and doesn't get nearly enough press. Upon scoring the goal, Ryan Kesler takes him down out of joy.
18. Jan. 21 vs. the Dallas Stars
Another goal scored by Raymond's speed, and don't be fooled just because the Stars defenseman stays with him. First, consider that this is a 2-on-1, but by the time Mikael Samuelsson realizes it, Raymond has beaten his man. His backhand is a thing of beauty, and evidence that Raymond can shoot the puck any which way with success. Consider that his backhand goes stick side, right across Auld's body. That is precise.
19. Jan. 27 vs. the St. Louis Blues
The first of two goals Raymond scored that night, this one is the direct result of a David Perron giveaway. Kesler receives the puck as though it was meant for him, and he sends it to Raymond, who does another of his slight redirects to beat Mason. Perron is choked, so he starts some stuff after the goal.
20. Jan. 27 vs. the St. Louis Blues
I want to say this one is all Raymond, but extra credit here goes to Christian Ehrhoff, who turns the rush into a 4-on-2 and gives Raymond a lot of space to work with. Raymond freezes his defenseman and the goaltender by attempting a slap shot (hint: he won't do that) then wires the go-ahead goal.
21. Feb. 6 vs. the Boston Bruins
The thing to notice here is how loudly Raymond is calling for the puck. Another trend in this clips is the bond that Kesler and Raymond have begun to develop, and by this time, they're old pros at communicating. Once Kesler gets him the puck, Raymond plays the waiting game as usual, gets Rask to go down, and beats him up high.
22. Feb. 14 vs. the Minnesota Wild (at 4:51 of clip)
Wherein Raymond picks up a huge rebound off of a Christian Ehrhoff shot and wrists it home. What's interesting here is just how huge this rebound is. It's really huge.
23. Mar. 23 vs. the Edmonton Oilers
Here, Raymond is the beneficiary of Kesler's hard work and a beautiful pass, this time by Michael Grabner. For people concerned about Raymond's excellent season being a fluke, consider that he consistently gets to open areas and goes to the net, ready to receive the puck. The passers on the Canucks are top-notch, and Raymond showed last season that he's got the goods to be a top-notch finisher. This clip is more evidence.
24. Mar. 30 vs. the Phoenix Coyotes
Speaking of top-notch finishing, here we see Raymond's wrist shot in all its glory, as he picks up the puck at the dot, going away from the net, then swivels and makes the perfect shot: off Matthew Lombardi and in, just like they teach you in peewee.
25. Apr. 6 vs. the Colorado Avalanche
Raymond's last goal of the season is nothing new for the speedster. Let's break it down. First, he creates a 2-on-1 with his speed. Some might say the 2-on-1 was created when Kyle Cumiskey fell down, but I hypothesize that Cumiskey fell down because he realized how fast he was going to have to skate to keep up with the play and his body threw in the towel. Second, Raymond keeps the puck. This is typical MayRay. His only major criticism last year was from Mikael Samuelsson, who said he needed to use his linemates more. Consider that, even if only Raymond's passing improves, he will become a much, much better player and his line will be more consistently dangerous. Third, he lasers a wrist shot. Yeah, he'll do that. I can't wait to watch him do this often next season.