Upper Deck Hockey cards have been something special since 1990. Every year, the best hockey card photographs tend to end up on Upper Deck Series 1 and Series 2.
Even a run-of-the-mill photo on an Upper Deck Series 1 or 2 card would usually be the best card on another set like Victory, Donruss or Score.
So, I decided to pick the Top 10 photos from 2011-12 Upper Deck Series 1 Hockey, based on the following criteria:
- Base cards only – no short prints or inserts
- Being an action photo wasn’t good enough – this had to be a cut above
- I tried to go for a variety – not just goal scoring or just body checks
- Finally, nothing too gimmicky that you would normally find on a Pinnacle card
With so many great photos, it was hard to boil it down to the best of the best of the best. But I still did. For your enjoyment, here’s the Top 10:
#10 – Jason Pominville
Buffalo Sabres winger Jason Pominville chips the puck past Philadelphia Flyers goalie Brian Boucher. You don’t see his face, but you see what he does. A picture like this tells us more about Pominville as a player than a portrait ever will.
#9 – Mikka Kiprusoff
Open sky! A humongous television-like scoreboard! Fireworks! And that’s just in the background of this photo of Mikka Kiprusoff, taken during the 2011 Heritage Classic.
#8 – Jordan Staal
You can almost feel Jordan Staal’s intense level of concentration as he prepares to take a face-off against Anze Kopitar.
#7 – Derick Brassard
Speaking of intense, this card of Derick Brassard is just oozing with emotion. It makes me want to know why he is so pissed off.
#6 – Niklas Lidstrom
Nicklas Lidstrom emerges from a wall of smoke that has his name and the Red Wings logo shone on it. The set also had a similar card of Shea Weber. This one wins out, though, because the bright Red Wings’ uniform contrasts so sharply with the dark background that Lidstrom practically jumps off of the card.
#5 – Drew Doughty
Hockey card photography tries to take us into the game – but this photo takes us from being in the game to being at the game. The silhouetted people in this picture make us feel like we are there, witnessing Doughty pass his stick over the boards to a fan. The purple and gold of Doughty’s jersey–and the illuminated ice–make for one colorful card.
#4 – Nathan Gerbe
Nathan Gerbe plays the puck while sailing through the air, a la Bobby Orr. This card would have been Number 1 if the puck at the bottom wasn’t obscured by the card’s border. Bad cropping aside, this is still an exciting moment to capture.
#3 Mike Knuble
The net-cam has been both a blessing and a curse. It is great for instant replays during a hockey game. But the net cam has also provided an overabundance of “goalie ass” cards for the past 15 or so years. This card is different. Instead of focusing on the keeper, the subject is Mike Knuble celebrating a goal. Looking up at Knuble – with the MSG rafters in the background – adds to the grandeur.
#2 – Braydon Coburn
Braydon Coburn of the Philadelphia Flyers lays out Carolina Hurricanes’ rookie Jeff Skinner with a bone-crunching bodycheck. It is difficult to get more hockey-oriented action than this picture. You can almost feel Skinner’s brain rattling around his skull from this hit. (As a side note, it is time to eliminate body checking from the sport, as it is literally causing more harm than good).
#1 – James Reimer
The best photo in the set shows us how dangerous this game is–especially for a goalie. An opposing player tumbles backwards over Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender James Reimer, knocking off Reimer’s mask in the process. Notice all the workplace hazards – sharpened skates, stick blades, not to mention the puck – are striking distance from Remier’s now-exposed face. And yet, Reimer seems unphased, as if he is trying to inhale the puck before it gets away from him.
Of course you may disagree with these picks.
So I ask:
- What was your favorite card from 2011-12 Upper Deck Series 1
- What card should have been on this list?