Yesterday the Carolina Hurricanes downed the Montreal Canadiens in the Bell Centre 5-3. The game winner was scored by Jamie McBain with 11 minutes remaining in the third period on the powerplay.

Below, let’s look at what went wrong for the Habs, and how the Hurricanes cashed in.

What appears to be a random bounce puts the puck on McBain’s stick in the slot, and he drives it home. A closer look:

In the first screen shot, you can see that the Hurricanes are utilizing the entire zone to spread out the Habs kill.

McBain makes the easy pass to Faulk…

…who drags the puck to the middle of the ice, winds up, and makes a fake shot/pass over to Staal on the half-boards.

This way he’s pulled Darche away from Staal, froze him a little bit, and allowed Staal more time and space.

As you can see here, Staal is licking his lips – he obviously knows Josh Gorges is without a stick, and being that Faulk bought him an extra second, it’s the perfect chance to attack the Habs box.

He takes the puck right at Gorges and here’s where things start to fall apart for the Habs.

First off, there’s a passing lane from Staal to Brent that Plekanec has identified, and being that Gill is tied up with LaRose, he wants to take that away so he’s about to come down low. Gorges and Gill are already low. Darche is on his way back down too. Much like shorty, they all get low, low, low, low, low, low, low.

Plekanec is dealing with one of the more difficult things in hockey – you need to know where the puck is, but you need to know where your guy is too. And, on a penalty kill, you often have multiple guys to watch, so where should your head be? He chooses the puck, meaning he’s unaware of the situation around him, which includes McBain creeping in.

Josh Gorges, as he so often does, manages to play goal and stop Staal’s shot, which he attempted to fire through Gorges legs. And, after the puck falls to Gorges feet, a scramble ensues.

By now the entire box has collapsed low, as it often happens on puck scrambles in front of the net. Everyone is below the hashmarks.

Two things cause this goal from here. One, is that Plekanec is still thinking about Brent on the backdoor. As always, you need to know where the puck is to know who to cover, so he’s staring at the puck scramble to figure out where to be next. This would normally be fine, but look – problem two comes next when Josh Gorges goes to grab the puck and sweep it away.

You probably can’t see the puck there, but in trying to keep it away from Staal, he sweeps it right into the slot. While Plekanec is low and concerned with Brent and watching the puck, he sees it come out and turns to go play it.

But, he’s too low and a step behind, and McBain has already seen it.

And just like that – one step too low and a bad decision to sweep the puck into the middle, and it ends like this:

Game winner.

Comments (6)

  1. Clearly it worked for them, but WOW to Tim Brent being on the powerplay. Also keep these Systems Analyst posts coming.

  2. Upon Ellen’s suggestion, I tried to figure it out before reading too.
    I’m wondering if Darche and Gill could share in some of blame too. After Staal’s shot, Darche is covering no one. Maybe creeping into middle a bit more to fill in that gap before McBain finds it.
    Also Gill doesn’t look like he’s ready to be traded to a contender with how soft he was on Larose. If he forceably moves Larose and gives Price some space to come out more and actually see the shot, Price has at least a little more chance at that shot, no?

    • I thought about Darche getting more blame here too, but you can’t ask him to leave the Staal/stickless-Gorges scrum to turn and cover the guy coming in from behind him. Maybe he shouldn’t have gone so low to help Gorges…

      Likewise, Pleskanic was kind of damned no matter what. He makes the right play to take away the backdoor pass, and then steps out on the loose puck a fraction too late. Watching the replay 6 times from the safety of home, clearly he should have fronted on the backdoor pass and immediately jumped out to get on McBain, but during the play?

      Usually these posts (a GREAT feature) are designed to point out some crucial mistake or breakdown. I wonder if this wasn’t sort of intended to show that if you lose a stick on the PK in the NHL, you can get screwed quickly.

  3. Interesting. My own reading of that play was “Oh great, Gorges is without a stick. Crap, they managed to get Stall on Gorges and get the puck to Staal.”

    Gorges/Gill/Darche/Plekanec are probably the top PK unit in the league right now and it seems to me the ‘Canes were very good at going for the jugular there.

  4. “Two things cause this goal from here. One, is that Plekanec is still thinking about Brent on the backdoor. As always, you need to know where the puck is to know who to cover, so he’s staring at the puck scramble to figure out where to be next. This would normally be fine, but look – problem two comes next when Josh Gorges goes to grab the puck and sweep it away.”

    Additionally, Plekanec puck watches the whole time and doesn’t get his head up to see if McBain decided to creep down. Had he taken a look at any point, he would have identified McBain as being the more dangerous option (once Staal shot) and likely moved higher/closer to the slot to take away McBain should Staal recover the puck (as Staal would be low enough that the backdoor pass would have to go through Gorges, Gill and LaRose to get to Brent). This would have put him in position to knock that puck away before McBain got the shot off.

    The lesson, as always: don’t puck watch.

  5. I am severely disappointed that there is no mention of Carolina’s synchronized arms-up celebration. You can’t teach that shit.

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