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Guest Post: A Momentum Shifting Play

Chris Note: We are trying to get things going around here.  On that note, we’re looking at a new writer who is going to cover the finer details of the sport, statistical and otherwise.  So welcome a guest post from Wings fan, Ari Zucker.

By Ari Zucker

The first goal Jimmy Howard gave up in Game 2 is a goal that he’s probably going to want back. It is pretty clear that mistakes were made, but I think that it is time that we dug a little bit deeper into this play and analyze exactly what happened, and what lead to this momentum shifting play.

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Let’s start from the beginning here, this play starts with Tatar rushing the puck into the offensive neutral zone. Things to notice here,

  • Tatar is receiving heavy pressure from Krejci.
  • He has who I believe to be Nyquist open on the wing, but is unable to get the pass to him and tries to split the Bruins defenseman through the middle.

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Tatar has just attempted to dump the puck deep in the Bruins zone. Things to notice at this point in the plays progression…after the jump.

  • There are 4 Bruins all in close proximity to Tatar, if he is able to get the puck to Nyquist, he may in turn then get a cross ice pass to Sheahan who is in great position with a ton of open ice in front of him. This is a miscue from Tatar. Dumping the puck in the zone is never as good as entering it with possession, and although the dump is the easier play, it is not the best play.
  • As I noted above, Sheahan has a ton of open ice here. If the Wings can keep possession for just a few more seconds, this play becomes very dangerous. Sheahan has a great shot and if Tatar or Nyquist can find a way to get him the puck this becomes a great scoring chance.
  • Tatar chooses to dump the puck. Is it the best choice? No. But it’s not a bad choice. However, if you are going to clear the puck, it needs to get in deep. This dump in play does not get in deep and as a result, it allows the  Bruins to get a quick transition.
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In the interim between the last picture and this one, the Bruins got the puck and failed to make a good outlet pass.  The puck falls on Sheahan’s stick, but he is in no position to receive the puck. In the 4 second interim between this picture and the one above it, Sheahan moves towards the Red Wings bench to change. Sheahan is not expecting this puck and it catches him by surprise. He doesn’t see Smith right behind him, ready to receive this loose puck. Smith was moving toward the puck aggressively on this play, as he should. He was the player in the best position to receive the puck and restart the zone entry. However, Sheahan panics and gives Smith an awful pass which gets past him. Other things to notice,

  • Sheahan goes across the ice to change, which leads to a little bit of chaos when the puck comes his way.
  • This is a mistake that is unfortunate, but doesn’t yet mean that the Bruins are destined to score on this play.

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This is the picture when things start to get a little bit crooked for the Wings, as their mistakes start to pile up a bit.

  • Smith cedes the puck to Howard who comes out of his net to play the puck. He has 3 options on this play, he can freeze the puck once it gets a little closer to the net, or he can pass to Smith or Kronwall. Freezing the puck is not an option anymore because Howard has already committed to playing the puck by moving out of his net.  Passing to Kronwall is the next safest play here as he has the most space. All Howard had to do was approach the puck from the other side and pivot towards Kronwall instead of Smith.
  • If Howard gives a good pass to Smith then this is a non issue. Smith would receive the pass and throw it around the net for Kronwall and the Wings would then be able to restart their breakout. However the pass gets elevated by Howard, and Smith is unable to receive it.

Florek then grabs the puck that gets past Smith and Florek is able to find the lithe bit of space that Howard isn’t covering and scores.

This goal gets scored due to the poor dump from Tatar, the bad pass from Sheahan, and Jimmy Howard misreading the play. If we want to quantify blame, then I would say it is 40% Howard, 45% Sheahan, and then 15% Tatar. With that in mind though, if any one of these three mistakes gets fixed, then the Bruins don’t score at all and the game remains scoreless.

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