Thursday, December 24, 2009

Anatomy of a Goal: Scoring Inside the Box

Merry Christmas Eve and Happy Holidays to everyone.  As you likely well know by now, Nashville didn't play the best game Tuesday in Vancouver.  Regardless, what would Christmas be with a new "Anatomy of a Goal" posting? Christmas as usual? That's right. As pretty as our NHL Star of the Week, Patric Hornquist's, goal was, that is not on tap today.  In today's AOAG, let's dig into the Preds stuggling penalty kill, as of late, to see what happens when the power play thinks (and scores) inside the box.

The Video

The Video Breakdown

1. The play starts on the powerplay, which the puck coming away from the net toward the blue line.  The predator penalty killers are pretty far out of position.  Instead of being in a "box" formation (see below for what a box looks like when they regroup), they somehow ended up lined up on the goal line.  Three words: OUT OF POSITION.

2. The puck comes back to the Vancouver defenseman in the high slot.  Predators forward Joel Ward (RW #29) is out of position, and is now scrambling toward the defenseman in order to prevent a play.

3. Ward slides on the ice to take away defenseman's shooting lane.

4.  The defenseman pauses as Joel slides on the ice.  Instead of taking the shot, he makes the pass to the winger at the top of the screen, who was previously covered by Ward.

5. Kevin Bieksa, (D, #3), at the top of the screen, gets the now has the puck, and Ward is trying to recover.  The Preds as a group are not in their box penalty kill formation (two forwards at the top, two defenseman near the net), but are all out of position.  Because of this, the winger has four options: (A) take the shot, with traffic in front of the net, (B) pass to the winger in the slot, (C) make the return pass to the defenseman in the high slot, (D) retreat to the point to set up a play.

6. Joel Ward returns gets up and returns to position to chase the puck carrier, but two other Predators also chase the puck carrier as well.  This means that three penalty killers are attacking the puck carrier, which is not a recipe for success on the penalty kill.

7. The good news is that aggressive play has eliminated options (A) - (C).  Bieksa, the Vancouver defender, now retreats to the blue line.

8.  The aggressive play by the Preds forwards, Ward and Legwand, has drawn them very high in the zone.  The Preds are so far apart that they are unable to get their sticks in the "passing lanes".  Thus, the Bieksa is able to make a cross-ice pass to a teammate, Daniel Sedin, in great position.

9.  The Predators are closer to returning to their box formation, however, the play is shifting toward the bottom of the screen, and the "box" is favoring the top.  Daniel Sedin recieves the pass, and quickly feeds it to his brother Henrik Sedin in the corner.  Daniel is standing in the middle of the box... a dangerous place if you are a preds fan.

(?).  What I am unsure of is whether the predators are still too high in the high slot, or are whether they should be closer to the net.  This is the difference between and active and passive penalty kill.  If the predators are lower in the box (closer to my dotted blue line) the pass would not have been completed.  However, if they were, it would be much easier for the Vancouver defenseman to pass the puck back and fourth, and also to take one-times from the blue line.   This is more of an interesting FYI than anything else, as I'm not necessarily sure the preds forward are to high in the zone (i.e. to the left of the screen).

10.  The Pred defenseman now breaks toward Henrik. This is the appropriate play.

11.  Unfortunately, because Ward was so high in the zone, Daniel is able to slip in underneath him and make a move to the net.  Henrik makes a great give-and-go pass back to Daniel.

12.  Daniel gets the puck inside of the Preds PK box, and the preds are unable to close on him in time.  With the traffic that has been in front of the net the entire time, in addition to the short range one timer, Ellis is unable to recover quickly enough.  Goal Vancouver.


This play started with scrambling penalty killers who were drawn too high in the zone, and as a result were never able to fully recover.  They let the enemy slip inside for a quick give-and-go score.  One the things the predators they can do to return to their penalty kill dominance is to be more disciplined on the kill.  It won't be  so easy with Jerred Smithson out of the lineup, here's to hoping.

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