Great Dane! Jannik Hansen’s Clutch Goals Helping Canucks

Jannik HansenWith just 16 games left in the season, Henrik Sedin finds himself four points behind Alex Ovechkin for the league league in scoring. 

Ryan Kesler powered the Americans to an unlikely silver medal at the Olympics and has just been announced as the poster boy for NHL 2K11.

Alexandre Burrows just topped the 30-goal mark for the first time in his career, Mikael Samuelsson’s first-career hat trick has him at a personal best 27 goals on the campaign, and in all, eight Canucks are in double digits for goals this season. Kyle Wellwood needs just one more marker to join the 10-goal club.

But around the locker room, it’s Jannik Hansen that’s the man of the moment.

In the last two games – both of which Vancouver entered the third period down a goal – Hansen has been the Canuck with a GWG beside his name, something that likely means a lengthy stay in the press box for odd-man-out Steve Bernier. Bernier hasn’t scored an important goal in recent memory. Hansen, on the other hand, has two very memorable ones. They were very different goals.

In Nashville on Sunday, he scored perhaps the most intelligent goal Canuck fans have been privy to all season. (That’s saying something; the Sedins are two of the most cerebral forwards in this man’s NHL.) Hansen noticed two Predators collide at the Canuck blue line, jumped across centre and tapped his stick on the ice. He corralled a pass from Kyle Wellwood, settled the rolling puck between the faceoff circles, and took a wrist shot on Pekka Rinne. Nope, he didn’t pick the corner, or hit the sweet spot Trevor Linden was always fond of, between the goalie’s glove and goalie stick. In fact, Rinne made the save. What made the difference? Hansen didn’t peel off at full speed into the corner, like so many more “natural” scorers seem to do. He didn’t go past the net at all. In fact, he just plain stopped, and looked for the puck. Lo and behold, the Finn couldn’t control the shot, and it rolled right to Hansen – who was right there to swat it home. Smart.

Tuesday was less brainy a play, maybe, but it was still pretty damned smart. Aaron Rome’s shot was a hot one, and Colorado goalie Craig Anderson was pretty rattled after allowing Vancouver to tie the game at four. I mean, hell, the Avs had led 3-0 after the first period. 

What goalie wouldn’t be worried?

(Besides, the ’Nucks are in ol’ Craig’s head – just as the Blackhawks seem to have Luongo’s number these days, Vancouver is just about the only team to get to Anderson this season. Even John Garrett called the Avalanche goaltender “the most consistent goalie this year in the NHL.”)

Hansen saw how far out of the net Anderson was, and just skated into the crease to look for garbage. He got it. The puck caromed off his rib, hit the goalie’s arm, and bounced into the net. Ugly, but it counted, and the Canucks had a 5-4 lead with two minutes left. For the second time in two games, Hansen celebrated a game-winning goal.

Guaranteed, more than one of the boys in the locker room has offered to buy the Great Dane a drink after this road trip’s over.