Last night, Tyler Seguin scored his 8th goal of the year a little over 14 minutes into the first period of a game against the New York Islanders.

For the most part, the Islanders were defensively responsible – sometimes you just get beat by a great play.


The Bruins are in the process of establishing puck possession after entering the Isles zone, and the Isles have solid coverage. Mark Streit is on Patrice Bergeron, Steve Staios has the net-front, and you’ll notice that the first forward back into the d-zone, Michael Grabner, is on Brad Marchand. He’s acting as the centerman (despite being a winger), because he was F1.

Brad Marchand pushes the puck into the corner for his linemate Patrice Bergeron, and jumps down deeper into the Isles zone. Coaches today like to see forwards go east-west with the puck instead of cycling in one corner – it makes the D have to switch (and therefore actually think), and spreads things out a bit. That’s what they’re starting to do here.

 Watch what happens on the d-side of the puck – Tavares, a natural center, comes down to Grabner, a natural winger, and calls a switch right about here:

Boston’s high winger is Tyler Seguin – when this puck goes east-west, he should jump down and help Marchand, and Bergeron should take his spot up high. For whatever reason, he doesn’t.

Tavares, just having switched to center sees this too, and takes who should be his guy – Seguin – while Grabner watces the slot (perfect LW positioning, with skates facing up-ice), and Streit stays with his guy.

Because Seguin stays high, there’s a problem – you always want to have a d-man and center battling in the corner, and leave one d-man in front of the net. Streit is with his guy who suddenly has to go to the far corner because Seguin doesn’t.

The puck pops free when Staois hits Marchand, so Bergeron accelerates to get it, and Streit (understandably) hesitates. Someone has to put pressure on Bergeron (and there’s no time to call a switch with JT), so he leaves the front of the net, being that Tavares seems to have Seguin in check.

Ohhhh shit. Tavares turned his back on Seguin.

It’s a hard thing to know where the puck and the guy you’re covering are, but you have to. Normally you can take your eyes off a guy for second or two, but because Streit hesitates, Bergeron is able to get the puck and get facing the net, something he wouldn’t be able to do with more pressure. And, as we know, Bergeron can pass the puck.

Seguin takes advantage of Tavares being turned around, jumps to the net, and boom – suddenly the puck is on his stick mere feet from the net, with a surprised goalie and very little pressure from JT.

This pass was very nearly blocked by JT, by the way. Have a look:

And thanks to JT being about an inch slow, the puck’s in the back of the net. Great poise to go catch-and-release on the goal by Seguin, and not panic one-time it. Better accuracy after holding on to it for a sec.

(What would concern me most on this play if I were a coach: Steve Staois hits Brad Marchand, but gets beat back to the net by him by about three strides. That’s no good.)

Like I said in the opening – it wasn’t terrible defense by the Islanders, they just got beat by a flawless pass.

Comments (10)

  1. It appears Streit did not immediately see the puck, since he accelerates in a line towards Marchand instead of the puck, leaving the lane for the pass open.

  2. Wow, just looking at the screenshots of that, bergeron literally put that pass in the only spot he could have, he doesn’t even have a half inch on either side. A little closer to nabakov and he knocks it away, a little closer to tavares and tavares intercepts it. On a side note, how good is Tyler Seguin playing right now? He could have easily had 4 goals last night. I hope Julien doesn’t split up this line, because they could be a fun group to watch this year (especially being a B’s fan.. could be worse I guess).

  3. Yeah, Seguin is playing out of his mind right now. If I’m being honest, I didn’t see it last year. Wasn’t sure what made him special. I sure see it now. And yeah, that pass by Bergeron was bang. on. perfect.

  4. The Bruins have been scoring a lot of pairs of goals– 2 goals in less than a minute– and this is one of them. Is this by chance? How does that happen– is it an issue of refocusing after the first goal, or is it just coincidence?

    Nice work, I like these.

  5. I heart this. More please

  6. I have to to chuckle at your confusion over what Seguin was doing high and just assume that you don’t watch the Bruins a whole lot, Justin. Third man in the high slot is SOP for the Bruins, though you’re correct in that it usually would be Bergeron. But their roles aren’t set in stone, and when Bergeron went deep, Seguin took the “third man high” role. Bergeron threw him a look over his shoulder (I was at the game and saw it develop up close) and that was when Seguin broke for the net.

    Hell of a combination, those two, and Marchand makes that line even more deadly.

    • I have to disagree with you. Seguin disappeared A LOT last year, I know he was only getting 12 minutes a game playing with an ever changing combo (thanks claude julien.. just because you won the cup don’t think I forgot how much you change your lines and how stupid it is sometimes) of the picture of consistency and defensive effort himself Michael Ryder, Blake “are you sure i’m 6’5″??” Wheeler, Jordan Caron, Rich Peverley, and Chris Kelly or even on the 4th line with Campbell and Thornton when they sat down Paille.. But he never displayed the spark he’s showing this year (apart from the ECF). This year you can’t help but notice him on the ice, he’s EVERYWHERE, it seems like every single shift he’s driving it into the offensive zone down the wing and just blowing by a d-man.. The speed he’s showing is just ridiculous, and that’s something he didn’t show us last year..

  7. I really like these posts.

    One suggestion (though it might be too much work). Is it possible to put the names over their heads in each shot like you did in the first frame? It’s much easier for cross referencing the text to the diagram if it keeps up for the subsequent pictures. It’s hard to keep track of so many names at once in your head if not all players are familiar. Maybe other readers are more observant than me and it’s not necessary, but it would really help me.

  8. If the goaltender didn’t try to swipe the pass away, he would have been in a better position to stop the shot. But there’s no way you can fight off that instinct. You can see in the photo that all his weight is forward. You know what happens next…

  9. This is a great post! Thanks for the great breakdown and explanation of all the moving parts. Please Keep it up, MORE MORE MORE!

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