Love/Hate Like Milk Hot Dogs
Yesterday’s wildly fluctuating game in Colorado between the Vancouver Canucks and the Avalanche showcased Kevin Bieksa at his hard-working best near the end.
His re-enactment of Superman saw him catapult his body across the ice to prevent the Av’s TJ Galiardi from scoring on the empty net with about 51 seconds to go, and then he reunited with his best friend the Stanchion on another fortuitous assist to wire home the tying goal a few seconds later.
The Canucks then managed to stumble through OT and the shootout to post an improbable win over a stunned Colorado team.
Other than these late game heroics for Bieksa, the only Canucks players who emerged from the game in Denver with any credit were Ryan Kesler, and the superlative Roberto Luongo.
The rest of the team has been on a wild ride the past few weeks, and in more of a sickly, spit up your popcorn manner than a hang on and enjoy the fun time.
Bieksa, though he was not necessarily great until the dying moments yesterday, has generally been on an upward trajectory since a dire start to the season.
The surly two way defenseman on the ice, who was an NHL second best plus 32 last season, began this year mired in a negative rating until December, as the team climbed out of their early funk.
As of today, he sits at a mediocre plus 5.
Over his career, Bieksa’s plus/ minus is a +17. That is a reasonable figure, but not yet Hall of Fame stuff to be sure.
However, a healthy Bieksa on a settled team could mount a serious assault on improving those numbers.
Bieksa has gone through a number of trials in life that would test the resilience of most people. He has had two major leg injuries where skate blades cut him, including 47 games missed after Vern Fiddler of the Nashville Predators accidentally caught him across the right calf on November 1, 2007.
Bieksa has gone through a number of trials in life that would test the resilience of most people.
That incident was a prelude to another cut above the left ankle on December 29, 2009 from the skate of Petr Prucha of the Phoenix Coyotes that cost him 27 games.
Loss Of A Teammate
Number Three has also suffered the loss of one of his best friends with the unfortunate passing of ex-teammate Rick Rypien, linked to that player’s battle with depression. Bieksa was so close to Rypien that he was asked to be a pall bearer at the funeral.
Despite these setbacks, Bieksa continues to be one of the more outsize personalities in the Canucks dressing room. He took a well-publicized ‘hometown discount’ to resign with Vancouver and has been instrumental in convincing other key members of the team to consider the same option.
His scoring this year has also rebounded strongly in recent weeks and his dressing room interviews are always ripe for a few zingers as well.
Here are a few of the best Kevin Bieksa Quotes over the years:
“It’s a nightmare.” – Bieksa on having to spend 2 days in Edmonton during a road trip.
“Roberto’s a goalie, Markus is a winger.” – Bieksa on the difference between Luongo and Naslund as Captains.
“Proceeds go to a translator for Alex Burrows.” – Bieksa on Ryan Kesler’s clothing line.
“After the game I do a little bike ride, lift some weights and work on the biceps, go home and trim the chest, then go for a run on the seawall.”
“Even my friends call me Be-es-ka.” – Bieksa on broadcasters pronouncing his Lithuanian name wrongly.
“It’s embarrassing, for sure. We said we should have air-brushed parts of him if he’s going to have his shirt off.” – Bieksa on Hordichuk posing shirtless.
“Maybe one day we’ll be teammates, but Montreal…I’m 6 inches too tall to be signed right now.” – Bieksa to the short Mike Cammalleri on “Off the Record.”
“Don’t get me wrong. There are still a couple of dummies in this room. Not everyone is interesting. A few guys you stay away from on the road.” – Bieksa on having college educated players on the team.
Until the team properly rights the ship, we will not see the best of Bieksa or the Canucks. But the fact that Vancouver is still racking up points, even while playing at a very uneven pace, doesn’t mean the alarm bell needs to be rung just yet.
The team is playing very tightly right now, but with a personality like Bi-es-ka, at least the dressing room provides some relief.
© C-Mac for North West Sports Beat, 2012. |
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