NHL’s Top 10 Plays of the 2008-09 Season
That is, the top ten plays of the 2008-09 REGULAR season in the NHL. There are still four rounds of playoff hockey to be played, and there will likely be some great plays during that time as well. But for now, Sportscenter is focusing on the top plays from the past five-and-a-half months.
#10: Milan Lucic
No, top hockey plays do NOT always involve spectacular goaltending or crafty stick-work. The top ten is kicked off with Milan Lucic’s hit on Toronto’s Mike Van Ryn that shattered a pane of glass along the boards. The hit- at least compared to other crushing blows Lucic has delivered- looks tame in the video. It just appears that the two crashed into the boards at the right time and in the right spot.
#9: Richard Zednik
Zednik is underrated on offense, as he is capable of exploding for very creative plays. Here, he blows by a defender, then literally hurdles over another defender diving for a block and snap-shoots the puck home in mid-air. An exciting play by an exciting player.
#8: Mike Ribeiro
The Dallas Stars center has two of the quickest and most deft hands in the entire league, and it shines through in his top-10 highlights. Yes, that’s highlightS, with an ‘s’, because Ribeiro makes two plays on this one part of the list. In this first shootout goal, he drags the puck back between his legs to fake the goalie, then reaches around the goalie to tap the puck in on the open side. He also does a little bit of showboating, probably justified after such a great play. For the next goal, also in a shootout, Ribeiro actually shoots the puck from between his legs and flips the puck up and over the goalie’s pads. If shootout goals were ever a legitimate stat, Ribeiro would be one of the best in the league.
#7: Marty Turco
After being considered a pre-season Stanley Cup contender, the Stars missed the playoffs for the first time since 2002, due in no small part to the grossly inconsistent play of goaltender Marty Turco. Usually a perennial Vezina contender, Turco had his worst NHL season in 2008-09, but he will at least be able to take this save from this season to remember. It’s an amazing kick save from his stomach that totally robs the Chicago Blackhawks’ Jonathan Toews of an open-net goal.
#6: Chris Campoli
If this entire play was intentional, then it may have deserved a spot in the top-2. The New York Islanders endured the worst season of any NHL team this season, finishing dead last. But this memorable play from Chris Campoli is one, yet relatively small, bright spot. It’s overtime, and Campoli fires the puck, which hits the post. But Campoli acts as if he’s scored the game-winning goal, gliding in a circle with his arms in the air. But as he circles back, he points toward the net, takes a pass from his teammate, and fires again, this time getting the puck in. He caught the entire Columbus Blue Jackets team off guard, fooling them into thinking the game was already over. If Campoli knew what he was doing the whole time, that was an ingenious play.
#5: Pavel Datsyuk
The first of two Detroit Red Wings to make the list, Russian superstar Pavel Datsyuk completely fools the goalie and does his best Mike Ribeiro impression after taking a pass from Marian Hossa. To make this play on pure instinct on a rush is just astounding, and no wonder that Datsyuk is one of the top players in the world.
#4: Johan Franzen
I’ve highlighted this goal by Johan Franzen multiple times, and it did deserve play-of-the-year consideration so I’m happy it made Sportscenter’s list. He does some extremely wide weaves in and out of the Montreal defense all while going untouched to the net and firing the puck home on the backhand from point-blank range before losing his balance.
#3: Bobby Ryan
Feeling the pressure of living up to the expectations that come from being drafted right after Sidney Crosby, the Anaheim Ducks’ Bobby Ryan was slow to make it at the NHL level. This season, his official rookie year, Ryan impressed many by scoring over 20 goals. His best goal by far was this one against Los Angeles, where he does a little Bobby Orr spin-o-rama around a Kings defenceman before going wide on the goalie and slapping the puck in.
#2: Miika Kiprusoff
The Calgary Flames goalie has had a bit of an up-and-down year, but the Flames ended up in the postseason once again nonetheless. He did make some spectacular saves along the way, including this one, the obvious choice for save of the year. The Canucks think they have a cupcake open-netter here, but Kiprusoff not only dives just in time, but gets the perfect contact between his stick and the puck to stop it from going in and rolling in once it hit the ice. There may never have been a bigger robbery of a gimme goal.
#1: Alexander Ovechkin
It can be argued that Ovechkin’s name value gets him bumped up the list two or three spots. But there’s no denying how strong this goal truly is. The Great 8 makes a perfect pass to himself off the boards, completely freezing the defender. He then flies in and slaps the puck practically from his feet into the net. As he sprawls to the ice, he is scoring another goal. Ovechkin still has plenty to prove in his NHL career, but what he does not need to prove is that he can score goals with the best of them.