Best Canucks Masks, Round I: Johan Hedberg vs. Andrew Raycroft

Remember when this used to happen? (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

We're in the back nine of the first round now with only four guys left standing, starting today with another battle of the back-ups. Each stop gap goalie played only 21 games for the franchise - neither winning more than ten games - before the emergence of Auld or Schneider pushed them out of the door. But both still used two distinct mask designs to be debated by you and your mouse.

Have the final word: Hedberg or Raycroft?

Johan Hedberg

Hedberg was selected 218th overall by the Flyers in the 1994 NHL Entry Draft, coincidentally sandwiched between Tim Thomas who went at #217 and Evgeni Nabakov who was #219. The Flyers never bothered with him, trading his rights to the Sharks four years later. Hedberg couldn't pass the likes of Mike Vernon and Steve Shields to make the NHL, so he toiled in the AHL where he played for both the Thoroughblades and the Moose. His strong play on the farm caught Pittsburgh's attention who acquired him in 2001. The Pens tossed him right into the fire: his first NHL start came on March 16, 2001 when he turned aside 41 shots in a 6-3 win over the Panthers (Luongo was in net and Pavel Bure had two goals on 12 shots against him that night). Hedberg eventually outplayed both Garth Snow and Jean-Sebastien Aubin for the starting role by the playoffs and helped the Mario Lemieux-powered Pens to the Conference Final were they lost to the Devils. He'd return as the Pens starter the following year, but Pittsburgh crashed and burned and Hedberg was tattooed with a league-high 34 losses in 66 games.

By 2004 Hedberg was traded to Vancouver for a second round pick (Alex Goligoski) and would play 21 games for the Canucks as the back-up to Dan Cloutier, going 8-6-2 with a .900 SV% and a 2.51 GAA. However he never fell into the good graces of Marc Crawford who opted to go with Alex Auld when Cloutier went down with his zillionth injury. Hedberg returned to Sweden during the lock-out but returned in 2005 with the Stars before spending four years in Atlanta (often elevated to the starter when Ondrej Pavelec would implode) and the previous two seasons backing-up Marty Brodeur in NJ. He signed a two year deal with NJ this past July.

Hedberg Trivia: Hedberg has a .770 SV% in the shootout (87/113) which ties him for best in the NHL along with Niemi.

Hedberg Mask Gallery: Since Hedberg's transition from the Moose to Pittsburgh was a quick one, he didn't have time to yank the Moose design off his mask. Naturally the fans would chant "Mooose" which he interrupted as boos. Nevertheless the Moose design has followed him through each stop of his career. [1] [2] [3]

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Andrew Raycroft

It's tough to have a more turbulent career than Raycroft. Drafted 135th overall by the Bruins in 1998 - one spot ahead of Vancouver's fifth round selection of Keyser Söze - Raycroft would taste his first NHL action in 2001 when he relieved Byron Dafoe a handful of times. Raycroft would be used sparingly until the 2003-04 season where he won the Calder with his 29-18-9 record. During the lockout Raycroft went overseas but returned to Boston in 2005 only to plummet down their depth charts with an 8-19-2 record. Boston opted to go with Tim Thomas instead and Raycroft was traded to Toronto for current Boston starter Tuukka Rask. The Leafs bought low on Raycroft but got plenty of mileage out of him in 2006 (37-25-9) even though his GAA (2.99) and save percentage (.894%) were some of the worst in the league that year. Following a similar pattern from Boston, his following season was a disaster where he went 2-9-5 and lost the starting gig to Vesa Toskala (which is comical in and of itself). Toronto moved quickly to buy him out and Colorado signed him to a one-year deal to back up Peter Budaj and help him regain his form but, alas, that didn't work either.

Enter Vancouver in 2009 who signed him to the league minimum, a move that was almost universally panned (including by yours truly). It was later tabled that it was more of a shrewd cap move that allowed the team, if necessary, to pass him through waivers to bring Schneider up without fear that anyone would claim him. At any rate, Raycroft played in 21 games, going 9-5-1 with an admirable .911 SV% and a 2.42 GAA which were the best numbers of any Vancouver back-up since the lockout. He also got a microscopic measure of personal revenge against the Leafs.

With Cory Schneider ready to assume the back-up role, Raycroft landed in Dallas in 2010 to back-up Kari Lehtonen. By Christmas time last year he was demoted to the AHL and this past summer signed a deal to play for Milano Rossoblu of the Serie A.

Raycroft Trivia: Raycroft had his first career playoff start, first playoff win and first playoff shutout all on one night.

Raycroft Mask Gallery: Raycroft didn't weave in any nicknames or team emblems into his design, but since it was 2010 focused instead on the Vancouver-hosted Winter Olympics complete with a snowboarder, downhill skier, bobsled and the inukshuk games logo on the chin. [1] [2] [3] [4]

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