December 31, 2009
(No, the first decade of the 21st century doesn't technically end until 2011. Save your bellyaching. But we've had nine NHL seasons and one stolen from us since 1999-2000, and Yahoo! Sports has decided it's time to rank the best and worst of the last "decade." Enjoy, and snark freely in the comments.)
This should make for fun debate.
We've reached the end of our all-decade lists and we're going out with the cherry on top. Everyone loves goal highlights; whether they're professional or amateur. As soon as word spreads that a crazy goal just happened, fans scour YouTube to see the latest highlight.
Like our "Top 10 Goalie Saves of Decade" from Tuesday, we're dealing with available video footage from YouTube and NHL.com rather than word of mouth.
We invite you to disclose and discuss in the comments any goal you've seen that isn't found on YouTube or highlight reels, as well as the famous goals of the last 10 years that didn't make the cut -- we're sure there will be plenty of those. A few honorable mentions include Johan Franzen's(notes) "Superman", Pavel Datsyuk(notes) deking all over the "Mooterus", and Jason Spezza(notes) cutting up the Toronto defense among the many that will be discussed and debated.
Here are the 10 greatest goals of the last decade ..
If there's a theme with these pretty goals, it's the lack of defense that occurs while the play is developing. Here we see the St. Louis Blues defense first fail to knock Wheeler off the puck and then fail to back check properly, despite it being a 1-on-4 at one point.
Making this goal even more special is that it came shorthanded and Wheeler celebrates like he just scored a meaningless empty-netter.
9. Evan Trupp swings and hits overtime winner (Feb. 1, 2008)
Trupp's acrobatics gave North Dakota a win over Minnesota. It was third time in five meetings between the two schools that was decided by overtime. Also deserving major props is David Martens, whose deft saucer pass was aimed perfectly for Trupp to bat home.
This was the first of two for Vermette on the night in a 5-2 Ottawa Senators win over the Tampa Bay Lightning. His other goal was a boring breakaway. This goal encapsulates the creativity and execution that make fans adore highlight reel goals.
Hey, it's John Grahame!
While he seems to be having a sort of resurgence now playing in Atlanta, it's good to be reminded of the skills that Afinogenov used to put on display earlier this decade.
As soon as Ovechkin banked the puck off the boards to himself, you knew something special was about to occur. The "whoa" sound from the Verizon Center crowd foreshadowed yet another in the long, long line of Ovechkin highlight-reel goals. OV must love playing against the Canadiens seeing how he gets some extra juice when they're on the opposite side of the ice.
This was by far the goal of the tournament. Tavares's early days as a lacrosse player came in handy as he batted the puck into position and then into the goal as Canada marched to their fifth straight gold medal at the World Junior Championships.
When you have the opposing broadcasters getting giddy over a goal, you know you did something special. It was a memorable way for the Chicago Blackhawks rookie to score his second career NHL goal and make an early mark in his career.
Forsberg's been dealing with foot issues for so long, it's hard to remember how amazing he was when healthy. This goal demonstrates the immense talent the Swede had when he was at the top of his game. Despite what it may look like, Colorado wasn't on the power play -- Calgary may have just been enjoying watching Forsberg skate with the puck a little too much.
Not only does Nash display a heckuva individual effort, he turns two Phoenix defenders inside out, then is able to get around Ilya Bryzgalov(notes) to break the Coyotes' hearts with 21.6 seconds remaining.
Nash could do no wrong while controlling the puck; as he said after the game, "It just seemed like the puck was on a string. I made a couple of dekes and the puck just stayed with me. Pecs made a nice pass up and it was a 1-on-2. We had three guys back, so I figured I might as well try something."
"Might as well try something" means driving to the net for most guys. For a guy with hands like Nash, it means making the Coyotes look silly yet again, because ...
1. Alex Ovechkin scores what's simply referred to as "The Goal" (Jan. 16, 2006)
"That was pretty sweet" was the quote from then-Phoenix Coyotes head coach and noted goal scorer Wayne Gretzky. The Ovechkin goal was a groundbreaking moment for hockey highlights on YouTube. Do a search for the goal on YouTube and there won't be a shortage of available videos to choose from.
The ridiculousness of the goal is what sets it apart from any goal in NHL history. Ovechkin somehow getting his stick on the puck while on his back and being able to put it on goal makes you shake your head every time. We'll never see a goal like it again, and it's highly unlikely we'll ever see a goal better than that one.