It’s Tuesday, so you know what that means: time for another edition of Systems Analyst, where I break down a particular goal from the night before, and highlight what went right, and more importantly, where the D went wrong.

Today we’re looking at the Bryan Bickell goal that came with just under seven minutes left in the third period of a 3-3 game against Nashville.

***

For starters, watch the goal in it’s entirety, then I’ll walk you through (with screenshots!) a few thoughts.

 

Great finish to cap off a great shift by Bickell.

As you can see in the image below, the Nashville Predators have numbers – the 2-on-2 comes complete with a perfectly positioned center (basically making it a 2-on-3). Even if Seabrook jumps up to join the play, nothing is going to come of this rush.

Bickell sees Michael Frolik a few steps ahead of him and stretched out wide, so he makes the smart dump-in: a hard wrap that Frolik will get to first. It’s basically a pass that guarantees you get in-zone possession, assuming you fire it hard enough to get past the goalie.

As you can see, Nashville still looks good here.

The hard-wrap gets by Rinne, and after a quick battle with Francis Bouillon, Frolik establishes possession. Bickell carries on as F2 and provides support, ready to start the cycle and look for an opening.

The centerman, David Legwand has come down to provide low support, allowing defenseman Kevin Klein to take up his position in front of the net. This is defensively ideal – a centerman and a d-man battling 2-on-2 down low with the other d-man in front.

As this develops, they should start playing man-on-man. The guy with the puck should be feeling strong pressure, while the other d-man plays off the puck-less player to avoid the risk of getting picked.

But then…

I’m not sure if Legwand didn’t yell to let Bouillon know he was there or if Bouillon just got super puck-hungry, but he’s like a puppy after a tennis ball when Frolik leaves it for Bickell. He originally had pressure on Frolik, so Legwand assumed (correctly) that his guy was Bickell. They’re not talking.

Fortunately, they don’t get burned by this (yet), because Legwand gets stick-on-puck and pokes it free.

I don’t blame Legwand here – once you dislodge possession, you want to see where the puck went to see if you can grab it, but doing so while standing stationary can cause trouble. He’s now caught in the middle between puck pursuit and coverage.

The puck heads back to Frolik, and suddenly Bouillon remembers who his guy is (he has the puck again, which helped). Unfortunately for him, Legwand is stranded.

Now here’s my favourite part of this goal. Well, two things:

1) Bickell finds the soft spot below the winger who’s allowed to help out here if someone tries to knife through that lane. Nicely done.

and 2) David Bolland, you little rat. He swoops in as F3, sees he’s not going to get a pass, then curls back to be the high guy. But on the way….he clips out Kevin Klein’s skates. Look at Klein, down and not looking at the play, wondering “who the what and why?”

Suddenly Bickell finds himself with the space to get a clean shot off, as Blum’s not able to get out to him and apply pressure.

All of this doesn’t happen if the D communicate better.

If Bouillon doesn’t leave Frolik, his check doesn’t have time to get the puck, get his head up and make a pass. If Legwand doesn’t get caught puck staring, Bickell doesn’t doesn’t get open.

It was a tough one, but that’s part of the game. How about Bolland huh? What an effective little rat.