I know, the Capitals again. It’s always the Capitals. I’m gonna have to re-name the post Systems Capitalist.
Today edition stars Troy Brouwer and Brooks Laich in a negative light, and Michael Del Zotto, Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards in a positive one. Dan Girardi gets some love too.
Let’s take a look at how the Rangers turned a 3-on-3 into a 2-on-1 in video form, then break it down. I deal mostly with the re-group after the initial rush.
We’ll pick it up after the Rangers’ first rush – Del Zotto just took a relatively terrible shot for a great player (it was high and wide by multiple feet, with a guy going to the net no less), and Troy Brouwer, who’s come back to help out, ends up with the puck. It’s a 4-on-4, and the Caps are tired.
I’m guessing that’s the reason Brooks Laich fails to provide proper support for Brouwer. He should open up, get on the boards, and be an option for his teammate here. By the time Brouwer moves it, Laich is basically facing directly up-ice, with his head swiveled all the way around…which is a good way to get killed. Like I said, he’s tired.
Brouwer has options though (he has the puck in the shot below). He can give it to Laich, go off-the-glass-and-out, or reverse it to Wideman or Schultz so they can set up behind the net and slow things down.
He misses Laich with the pass up the middle (assuming that it was a physical error, not mental here), and is damn lucky there wasn’t a Ranger there.
Girardi ends up with the puck in the neutral zone, which sets up the classic re-group you practice constantly throughout the season. The job of the Caps D is to hustle up to the blueline, pivot to the inside, and get good gap on the attacking forwards. The Caps forwards should identify there’s going to be a three man attacking rush and grab a guy (preferably the wide or high guy without the puck).
But Laich is tired, so…he’s outtie.
That’s no big deal – it’s still a prototypical 3-on-3 coming once puck gets passed up.
The D are a little slow to get up to the line, but the Rangers curl tight and aren’t coming too fast. Girardi does something that makes me so happy – he gets the puck up to his forwards without dilly-dallying (even though that’s Del Zotto, point is the same) to let them make plays, so they’re back on the attack.
So! Rangers are re-grouping, who’s got who, defenders? (This is the point in the video session where I get condescending and treat them like children).
“Troy, how is it possible you don’t see Gaborik there? Did you think our d-man needed help on a stationary player as far from the net in the zone as possible? Did you not recognize the situation? I honestly want to know what you were thinking. Seriously, go ahead.”
Still, Del Zotto is at a standstill and Wideman is in good position on him…but here’s where difference-makers become difference-makers. Del Zotto has A) the vision and patience to locate Gaborik, B) the skills to thread the puck through traffic to him and C) the stones to try that instead of just slipping it to Richards, who’s providing great support.
From there, it comes down to the smarmy way I’ve labelled the next screenshot, in a nutshell. The play is all but over.
I kid about Holtby by the way, I think he’s legit. It’s just fun to stretch the scene as much as possible.
Then ho-ly shit, watch this fake shot by Gaborik on that poor tender that’s been hung out to dry. That freezes 104% of goalies in the world.
That gets a gold star. He even takes a knee for crying out loud. The stick is flexing backwards he’s pulling it back in so quick.
Anyway, to Brouwer’s credit, he tries to get back to take Richards, but he was puck-staring and looping too much to stay in the play.
Here’s the finished product:
The bright blue below means the “A good thing happened for the home team” lights just got fired up.
Anytime you’re in an even-numbered situation and you’re heading to cover a covered player, it’s time to get your head on a swivel. There’s no point in helping those who don’t need help.