Best Canucks Masks, Round I: Bob Essensa vs. Cory Schneider

None shall pass. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-US PRESSWIRE

Finishing up the Linden conference with another pair of back-ups in Bobby E and the CJ (or Ginger Bricks or C-Wall, pick your poison). Both netminders started with Vancouver as back-ups only to play well enough to demand the starting role and became fan favorites in the process. Both also have Boston roots, the latter being from Marblehead and the former being a goaltending coach with the Bruins since 2003. But let's not hold that against them shall we?

Bob Essensa

The Jets took Essensa with the 69th overall pick in the 1983 Entry Draft, a class in which a few notable goalies were also selected (Tom Barrasso, Daren Puppa and Chris Terreri among them). Essensa would remain in the CHAA (Michigan State University) before moving on to the AHL's Moncton Hawks before making the leap to the Jets roster in 1988-89, one of five Jet goalies that year. Essensa eventually became Winnipeg's starter by 1990 but the Jets were by and large awful during his tenure. By March 1994 he was traded to Detroit with Sergei Bautin for Tim Cheveldae and Dallas Drake which was a homecoming of sorts, but Essensa struggled and Chris Osgood eventually passed him for the starting gig. Essensa was so bad that he eventually fell to fourth on the Wings depth chart and Essensa suddenly found himself without a NHL job. Detroit moved him by 1997 to Edmonton where Essensa backed up Curtis Joseph for a few seasons, but could not land the starting reigns again. By the 1999-2000 campaign he ended up back in the Jets Coyotes organization where he eventually backed up ex-Canuck Sean Burke. The following year he signed in Vancouver to back up Felix Potvin, but since Potvin frankly sucked Essensa was frequently called into relief and enjoyed a rebirth, posting a 18-12-3 record, the most wins he had since 1994. He also became a fan favorite (Bobby! Bobby!) at the expense of Potvin but the Canucks graveyard bell rang loudly by 2001 with management opting for Dan Cloutier to be backed up by Martin *clownhorn* Brochu freeing Essensa once again to hit the open market. He landed in Buffalo briefly before retiring in 2002 with a career record of 173-176-47 with a .895 SV% and a 3.15 GAA.

Essensa Trivia: Essensa never played past the first round of the playoffs in his career, but got his name on the Cup when the Bruins won it in 2011. Considering Tim Thomas' dominance at the time, it's a safe bet Essensa did his job.

Essensa Mask Gallery: Essensa's mask blended the Orca designs along with native elements on the chin. [1] [2] [3]

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Cory Schneider

It took until the 2012 playoffs for Schneider to cement his status as the team's best goaltending option. Rewind the clock just two years prior and Schneider was the confirmed back-up, a pairing that allowed Vancouver to better manage Luongo's time while also showcasing Schneider's skills for a potential trade down the line. Rewind the clock to 2008 and Schneider was the blue chip prospect who was butting heads with Curtis Sanford and later Andrew Raycroft for the back-up slot; both times Schneider would lose out. Instead he cut his teeth in the minors and remained third on the depth chart, only making rare NHL appearances during prolonged Luongo injuries. Perhaps no game better illustrated Schneider's eventual rise to prominence than his 2-1 losing effort against Dallas on November 6, 2009, a game in which the Canucks played their ninth game in 14 nights and had nothing left in the tank leaving their rookie to deal with a comical 47 shots against.

His AHL years (84-45-5 with a .931 SV% and 2.31 GAA) constitute the bulk of his professional career thus far. His 2.04 GAA and .928 SV% from 2008-08 stand as the best records in Moose history and his 35 wins in 2009-2010 is the most ever for a Moose netminder. He also holds the Moose record for shutouts (12) and was named the 2009 AHL player of the year.

Schneider Trivia: Schneider was selected 26th overall in the 2004 Entry Draft with three other goalies being selected before him: Al Montoya at 6th, Devan Dubnyk 14th and Marek Schwarz at 17th. Now everyone point and laugh at the scouts for the Rangers, Oilers and Blues.

Schneider Mask Gallery: Schneider has had four designs: the first combined the Moose and Canucks logos which he modified slightly in his second season. At the beginning of the 2010-2011 season he rolled out a new design to honor the franchise's 40th anniversary (video for why this design here) but at some point during the Canucks/Sharks third round series he took a shot off the mask which rendered it unusable so he flipped to a Curt Ridley-esque design and then this summer he unveiled another one with more logo montages and a small tribute for Rick Rypien.

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