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What's the Goal of the Season? You decide!

by Adam Schwartz and Brad Holland
Below you'll find our five nominees for the Fan's Choice Goal of the Season.

Watch the videos, consider their merits, and record your choice by voting in the poll.

Vote as many times as you like.

The choice is personal, but some things to consider when voting are degree of difficulty, skill, and showmanship.

The voting ends this Friday at 10:00 a.m. ET, when the top goal, hit and save of the season is revealed.


Niklas Hagman, Feb. 3, 2009: Florida at Toronto

This potential Goal of the Season candidate almost landed on the blooper reel instead.

Toronto Maple Leafs' forward Niklas Hagman collides in the corner with the official, and while he struggles to get to his feet, takes a knee in the face from the Panthers' Bryan McCabe. As if that wasn't enough, an errant shot from the point just narrowly misses Hagman' face.

Hagman had just about had enough. He picked himself up off of the ice, and made a motion to head back to the bench. The puck, which had been heading up ice, was held in at the point and sent into the corner, where the Leafs and Panthers battled back-and-forth across the ice for possession.

Amidst a crowd of players, the shifty Finn gets the puck -- on his stick this time. He then puts the puck through one defenseman's legs, eludes another with a nifty toe-drag, and then walks out in front and slips the puck into an empty net behind Panthers' goalie Craig Anderson.

Usually, a goal like this would've sent a player leaping for his teammates, boiling over with adrenaline. But enjoyment never once flashed across Hagman's face as he appeared to be still annoyed with the indignities he suffered earlier in the shift.

If only all of them were that easy, eh Niklas?

Blake Wheeler, Dec. 21, 2008: Boston at St. Louis

Wheeler is among the League's top rookie scorers for several reasons: he's big, strong, powerful, and he may have the best hands among this year's class of freshmen.

On Dec. 21, 2008, while killing a penalty in St. Louis against the Blues, all of those skills were on full display.

This goal is a fine example of Wheeler's world-class skill, coupled with raw power and strength. Wheeler accepts a pass at the red line and slows up after crossing into the Blues' zone, looking perhaps to take some time off the clock.

What happened next, not even he could've predicted. He takes a hit, but somehow keeps his balance. Spinning off of the check, he then beats a St. Louis defenseman one-on-one with a quick outside-in move.

From there, it's Wheeler vs. goaltender Manny Legace, with four Blues on his heels.

Despite the fact that Legace gets a stick on the first shot, Wheeler beats the sticks of all four St. Louis defenders to the rebound and puts it in for his second goal of the game, giving the Bruins a 2-0 lead early in the first period.

Alexander Ovechkin, Feb. 18, 2009: Montreal at Washington

Unfortunately for Ovechkin, an NHL player can't get an assist on a goal he scores.

If it could happen, this masterful play would've brought Ovechkin another point closer to Evgeni Malkin for the overall NHL scoring lead.

While chasing down an errant clear by the Montreal Canadiens, Ovechkin banked the puck off the boards to himself in order to get around Roman Hamrlik in a stunning start to a goal-scoring sequence few will likely forget any time soon.
Once he was clear of Hamrlik, the goal-scorer in Ovechkin took charge. He exploded into action, enticed by the sight of a clear lane to the net. Kyle Chipchura attempted to head him off, but Ovechkin was not to be denied, muscling his way past the backchecking Chipchura.

The crowd, already howling, leapt to its feet, just as Ovechkin was hauled off of his. Sliding toward the net, tangled with Chipchura, Ovechkin still found a way to chip the puck past Montreal goalie Carey Price.

As if any more were necessary, this goal is further proof of why Ovechkin is arguably the best goal scorer on the planet.

T.J. Oshie - March 26, 2009: Vancouver at St. Louis

Big-game players raise the level of their play, hoisting their respective teams on their broad shoulders, late in seasons with playoff spots on the line. That's just what happens when spring arrives in the NHL.

The St. Louis Blues, who have been playing playoff hockey for more than a month now as the battle to get into the playoffs, are very familiar with this dynamic. Even oshie, a rookie, appears to have caught on if this goal is any indicator.

In this game, the Canucks had been holding down the upstart Blues. But, suddenly, Oshie took a pass off the wall, eluded a diving Canucks' defender, then walked his way into the slot, around a diving Roberto Luongo, and buried the puck into the back of the net.

The goal, which tied the game at 1, was almost as nice as the fist pump with which Oshie chose to celebrate.


Johan Franzen, Nov. 26, 2008: Montreal at Detroit

It's been a magical 18 months for Franzen.

During that time, the big Swede has been flying under the radar as one of the game's emerging power forwards.

He's continuing the development that he began last year when he finished the season on a torrid pace, even managing to break a few of Gordie Howe's team records along the way.

Well, Montreal Canadiens defensemen Ryan O'Byrne found all this out the hard way in a game between two Original Six franchises in late November.

In the middle of the third period, O'Byrne turned over the puck to Franzen in the neutral zone during a routine clearing play. Despite the fact that O'Byrne was still in good position to defend, Franzen used his soft hands and large frame to beat the young defender -- not once, not twice, but three times.

Completing his magical rush, Franzen proceeded to gets in tight enough on Habs' goalie Carey Price to beat him with a well-placed backhand.

That goal is further proof that an old "Mule" can learn new tricks.

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