Not to sound too much like a coach, but….we have a lot of video to work through today, so let’s jump right into it. Here are my 4 favourite plays from last night – in each clip, we’ll point to who did what wrong (and who did what right, of course). I’ll try to be as concise as possible.
#4 Antti Niemi stone-cold robs Teemu Selanne
A lot of jaw-dropping plays in the NHL are only allowed to take place because of poor coverage. First, here’s the incredible save:
A 4-on-3 is a different can of worms, but something remains pretty simple – a 3-man penalty kill is a pulley system, so when it’s time to rotate, you better fully rotate.
The puck gets worked down low from the point - the Sharks top guy Colin White is in the right position, waiting for a pass back up high with an active stick. Vlasic is briefly tied up with Perry but loses him in order to defend the pass across, which is never easy to stop. He’ll need backside help.
I say it’s a pulley system because Handzus and White should alternately be the guy up top when the puck is on their strong side, and all the way down when it’s not. The bottom guy, Vlasic, is supposed to go back and forth depending on who’s up.
Handzus doesn’t come back all the way down to defend back door (doesn’t even look, as he’s preoccupied with Perry), and Antti Niemi has to go hiiiii-yah! with his karate toe there.
Two guys can defend Perry there, you don’t need a third.
#3 Shawn Horcoff lays a saucer pass to a wide-open Ryan Smyth.
This one is hilarious in it’s awfulness by the Predators forwards. Great execution by Edmonton though.
The goal is at 2:49, but it’s the replay that starts at 3:03 that you really need to watch.
As you can see, when the Predators are heading back up the ice, they have numbers (four guys that can defend Edmonton’s three). The defensemen see the rush coming, and do their jobs. Whichever forward is the first guy back will take the high forward (or the wide one if they’re three abreast).
For reasons I cannot understand (and I don’t care how long their shift had been at this point), Kostitsyn and more importantly Legwand (who was in the middle of the ice) head off for a change. ….While the puck is headed towards their end and with three Oiler forwards advancing.
It’s just a horrible change. Defenseman Kevin Klein is playing soft (in a good way), fronting the Oilers’ second forward who’s in a position to take a one-timer (he should probably glance over to make sure they have wide help, but you should also be able to trust your teammates). So coverage is generally good….if your forwards don’t sell you out and head to the bench for some Gatorade.
What you see next is two guys too far out of the play to do anything about the great pass and finish by Horcoff and Smyth.
The best part of the play, bar none, is that Kostitsyn hits Smyth back at the far blue line, who starts pumping his legs from a near stop and keeps them going all the way too the net. He must have been licking his chops when he saw those guys change.
#2 Stephen Weiss threads it to Kris Versteeg for a powerplay goal
I like this goal if for no other reason than it makes the guy pointing for his teammates to do stuff look like an asshole. Jump to the 2:09 mark, if you don’t mind. (BTW, I use the full game clips rather than just the goal ones so you can get the multiple replays.)
Nice passing and all, but the Lightning make it easy for them (and they had some bad luck, with Ryan Shannon being sans-stick).
First off, when the Panthers top d-man moves the puck back to the sideboards, number 19 on the Lightning, Dominic Moore, needs to sag back and get his stick in that passing lane (especially with Shannon giving his twig to Hedman, this becomes crucially important). He’s pointing, for some reason, to Mattias Ohlund to watch Stephen Weiss (and leave his guy? He can always front Weiss if he gets the puck). That’s largely Moore’s pass to defend.
But, with his hands off his stick to point (?), he’s unable to help there.
Even being without his stick, Shannon needs to get back into the slot after the pass goes across to Weiss (and extra fast – you have no stick dude, wakey wakey). He leaves Weiss with a massive passing lane.
Hedman can help defend a pass through that lane, but with Ohlund heading out to front Weiss, Hedman is kind of caught in the middle of two offensive players down low. That means he’s counting on Shannon for help on either the pass or Versteeg – with no stick, he gets neither.
#1 Ryan Nugent-Hopkins threads multiple needles to Taylor Hall for a PP goal
This is one of those “yeah, this doesn’t really need much analysis, someone super-talented did something sick” goals, but hey, we gotta take another look at this (at the 51 second mark), don’t we?
The only possible thing I could say here is that the weak side winger could be lower in the slot, but any time a guy has to pass it through two people on the powerplay, your coverage is rock solid. Normally attempting that pass would be what coaches call “forcing it,” and will get you sat down then next time your team has a PP chance.
Preds goalie Pekka Rinne damn near gets across there, but a quick release and nice placement by Taylor Hall make that one count. And also to Hall’s credit: he did a nice job finding the soft spot over there.
Fun! Don’t forget to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if there’s a play in particular you’d like me to break down. I’m considering doing more than one of these posts per week, so feedback is always welcome.