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Best of the Best 2015

by Brady Trettenero / Vancouver Canucks
It was a year to remember for the Canucks.

Vancouver participated in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the sixth time in seven seasons and got terrific performances from newcomers and veterans alike. Thanks to continuous superb play from the Sedin twins, clutch goal-scoring from Radim Vrbata and sensational goaltending from Ryan Miller, Vancouver posted a 41-33-11 record over the past 365 days. From vintage Sedinery to an absolute laser from a 19-year-old rookie, here are the best plays that made 2015 a year to commemorate for Canucks fans.

BEST GOAL

Sedin twins use telepathy to tie game vs. Kings (04/06/15)

With the 2014-15 regular season winding down, the Sedin twins combined to score one of the prettiest goals of the year. Trailing 1-0 to their Pacific Division rivals in the third period of an April game at Rogers Arena, Henrik took a pass down low from his brother and began to cut around the Kings’ net. Instead of coming around the other side, Sedin stopped halfway, dishing out a no-look backhand pass to Daniel at the circle. The sniper wired a shot past an unsuspecting Jonathan Quick to tie the game. Henrik’s 700th career NHL assist dealt a major blow to the Kings playoff hopes, as the Canucks would go on to win in a shootout and clinch a playoff berth a few days later, while Los Angeles would eventually fail to make the postseason after winning the Stanley Cup the year prior. The Sedin twins were phenomenal over the past 365 days, with Daniel racking up 82 points in 85 games and Henrik notching 76 points in 83 contests.

BEST ASSIST

Higgins dishes nasty no-look backhand pass to Vrbata vs. Bruins (02/13/15)

With the Canucks leading the Bruins 2-1 in the second period of a February matchup at Rogers Arena, Chris Higgins chased down a dump-in behind the Boston net and made a filthy between-the-legs backhand pass to linemate Radim Vrbata cutting to the slot. Vrbata took the puck to his backhand and deked around outstretched goaltender Tuukka Rask, before tucking it home to put the Canucks up 3-1. The pass from Higgins set up the eventual game-winning goal, as the Canucks would go on to win two of their three matchups against Boston in 2015. Vrbata piled on 27 goals in 82 games this past year, including a clutch five game-winning tallies.

BEST SAVE

Miller comes up with huge glove save in OT vs. Panthers (12/20/15)

It’s all about timing. With a December game against the Panthers tied 4-4 in overtime, goaltender Ryan Miller came up with a massive glove stop to keep Vancouver alive. Reilly Smith came in 2-on-1 with Jussi Jokinen. The former Bruin feathered a cross-ice feed to Jokinen, who fired a shot on goal. With a strong push from his right skate, Miller was able to come across, track the puck and outstretch to rob Jokinen with the glove. While Vancouver would lose in a shootout, Miller’s timely save kept them alive and gave them a chance to win. Miller played 46 games in the Canucks’ crease this past year, posting 20 wins and three shutouts. The veteran recorded 30-plus saves on 16 different occasions and helped Vancouver clinch a playoff spot in 2015 after a red-hot start to the new year in which he won four of his first six contests, turning away 174 of 182 shots in the process (.956 save percentage).

BEST MILESTONE

McCann snipes for his first NHL goal vs. Flames (10/10/15)

The first of many. With the Canucks’ 2015-16 home opener against the Flames tied 1-1 in the second period, Jared McCann showed fans a sign of what’s to come in the future. The 19-year-old forward took a feed from Jannik Hansen in the slot before rifling a shot over Flames’ netminder Jonas Hiller, breaking the deadlock. While the Canucks would fall to the Flames in overtime, McCann’s wicked wrist shot in his first NHL game brought an excited crowd to its feet and helped Vancouver salvage a point. McCann started with the Canucks at the beginning of the season and has notched seven goals and 11 points in 36 games. The sniper has averaged 12:22 of ice time and has shown off his lethal shot on several occasions. After being eliminated by the Flames in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Canucks have taken three of a possible four points in two meetings with them thus far in 2015-16.

BEST SHOOTOUT GOAL

Vrbata dekes to the backhand to beat Ducks’ Andersen (10/12/15)

After suffering an overtime loss to the Flames in their second game of the 2015-16 season, the Canucks were looking for a better result when another contest went past regulation once again on Oct.12 in Anaheim. After Jared McCann was denied as the first Vancouver shooter in the shootout, Radim Vrbata moved in on Ducks’ netminder Frederik Andersen. The right-winger froze the netminder with a few slick moves, before quickly deking to the backhand and putting it home. Alex Burrows would score in the third round, as the Canucks would go on to win the skills competition and spoil the Ducks’ home opener. The Canucks won six of the nine shootouts they participated in this past year, with Vrbata having been a big reason for their success. The sniper was called upon every single time the game went past overtime and converted on five of his nine shootout attempts. Talk about delivering when it matters most.

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