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Top 10: First NHL goals of superstars since the lockout

August 20, 2011

This title sounds goofy as can be, like something from a VH1 countdown. It also sounds obnoxiously specific, but, heck, I wanted to keep this simple. But for some summer fun, I thought I’d look at the very first NHL goals of a very subjectively drawn set of the NHL’s top superstars. Sure, it’s not how pretty, it’s how many, and most of these players were probably just relieved to bury it. After all the hype surrounding their NHL debuts, it must have been sweet relief to finally notch that goal. These first goals may have been signs of what was to come, or they may have been flukes. Some of my selections were made on the basis of who scored it (and its inherent importance) and others on sheer beauty. Others for poetic merit.

Honorable mention: Taylor Hall, for its total lameness, and Ville Leino, for its, well, for its spin-o-ramic nature.

10. Sidney Crosby: Pop-in

Sid the Kid’s first ever NHL wasn’t a stunner, but it was a mark of opportunism and dedication to a play. Most touchingly, there’s Mario on the bench, tapping his stick for the Kid. Again, not a glorious kind of goal. But the audience, the entirety of the Penguins team and organization, were all gunning for that goal to happen.

9. Evgeni Malkin: Always good to have your first go to the War Room

Drawing from the pool of the Penguins again here, all I can say is “Poor Geno.” He literally punches the puck in between Brodeur’s five-hole with the top of his stick. There was no whistle, Brodeur’s outraged, but Geno and the team cheer on. It’s a goal that show off his reflexes, if anything.

8. Steven Stamkos: Tip-in time

A Lecavalier tip-in, of which there appears to be no original footage of on YouTube. Only replay footage. How fitting. And it’s only later they’re able to credit him with it. At least we’ve come to know that he’s so much more. And that St Louis fits him better than Vinny.

7. Alex Ovechkin: Sling-shot to heaven

One-timing, Ovechkin made a mark in that first goal. It was simple, it was sweet. And it’s been repeated again and again by Ovechkin, without getting stale.

6. John Tavares: Working man

It’s a backhander earned through hard-work. Much like Crosby’s first-goal, it’s an in-the-crease  goal born out of a chaotic moment in which the goalie loses control. And that’s what makes both Tavares and Crosby prolific sorts of scorers–it’s not just skill–it’s the ability to get dirty when need be.

5. Patrick Kane: A zinger

There is no goal that’s so emblematic of the manner in which a player would proceed to tear up the league than this one. A quick snap-shot from the point is Kane-ian. Of course, Patrick Kane can and does score from anywhere on the ice. But this shot, zooming up with speed, slinging it in, is pretty spectacular.

4. Jordan Eberle: TSN’s numero uno goal of the 2010-2011

With an end-to-end rush, a toe-drag and a jump, Eberle goes tumbling into the boards in a Battle of Alberta game. It’s a gorgeous goal, aesthetically-speaking, and evidence enough of what rookies will sacrifice to get their first goal.

3. Tyler Seguin: All-world

Straight out of Prague in the Bruins’ second game of the season, young Seguin couldn’t have dazzled the audience any more. Catching the puck in the neutral zone, heading into a breakaway, slamming into the net and Bryzgalov, all on his first goal. Thank you, Michael Ryder.

2. Anze Kopitar: Swing for the fences

Huge drive to the net, swinging wide, roofing it. He went on to score another goal in the same game, his first in the NHL. Not too shabby. Alas, the Kings fell to the Ducks that night, something the budding rookie regretted. Nevertheless, Slovenia was done proud that night.

1. Jonathan Toews: Power to the people

He clocks in at number 1 for me simply because of the sheer will and determination he exhibited in scoring this goal. He literally willed himself to score, by blowing past those defenders and accelerating toward the net at breakneck speed, limbs flying. He wanted to score, and the result isn’t the most beautiful. But it was an act of will, and that’s what makes that first goal so awesome.

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