Mostly good news today, which is awesome, but this is a play that I have to address. The Red Wings’ PK was good Saturday. Minnesota didn’t have many shots and when they did get shots, Howard was there to make the save. However, this happened:
On the ice is Hank, Cleary, Stuart and Ericsson. After Hank blocks a shot from the point and another shot hits the side of the net, the puck ends up in the corner where is is taken by Koivu.
The Wings surround Heatley in an attempt to take away the pass to the slot. It’s not a bad thing to give up shots from the point as long as Howard can see it. It’s not a great idea to give up shots from the slot. Especially if it’s a guy like Heatley. Latendress is alone in front of Howard, but Ericsson will drift back and cover him shortly.
And then he doesn’t. Ericsson leaves Latendress to cover Heatley even though any pass to the slot is covered.
Koivu sees this and moves into position to send the puck to Latendress. Howard has a heart attack.
Latendress never looks up to see if he has any open net. Instead, he just shoots the puck into Howard and the Red Wings clear the puck. Seconds later, Latendress would be called for holding (and it was a terrible call). Notice that at the moment he shoots, he has about 60% of the Red Wings’ zone to himself. That’s not supposed to happen. You want to deny time and space. If you’re not 100% sure what that means, it just means that you want to get right on people so they don’t have time to do anything and deny space so he has nowhere to shoot or pass. Make them dump it into open ice and fight for the puck. Do this well and they end up killing their own penalty.
Obviously, that was not the case on this play. Ericsson is going to have to work on things like this if he’s going to be an asset.