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.