Monday, January 11, 2010

AOAG: Defensive Breakdowns & Losing Your Man

PredNation,  tough loss for the good guys over the weekend.

Some PredBloggers, including a really hilarious blog in See Puck City, and a bunch of post-game tweeters, were up-in-arms over the defensive pairing of Dan Hamhuis (D, #2) and Kevin Klein (D, #8).  I didn't get to see the game myself, so I decided to devote an Anatomy of a Goal to one goal against this defensive duo.  My conclusion:  Hamhuis, Klein, and David Legwand (C, #11) get caught flat footed.  Who is most responsible?  Cast your vote in poll after the break.

In this edition of Anatomy of a Goal, lets look at how defensive breakdowns, and losing track of your man, can result in easy goals against.

The Video

The Breakdown

1.  The play starts with both Klein fighting for the puck down low.  Every Predator is in good position.  Klien has the puck, and attempts to clear it down the boards and out of the zone.  This is probably a smarter play than attempting a pass in front of the net Martin Erat (LW #10), for example.

2.   Unfortunately, Anaheim is able to stop the puck before it leaves the zone.  Anaheim simply attempts to dump the puck deep into the opposite corner.

3.  As the puck is being dumped in, but Klein and Hamhius will have the puck within their reach.  Can either stop it...?  Also note that if both defenders are right on top of each other, as they are here, someone is out of position.

4.  Ah no.  The puck goes in between Klein and Hamhuis, and is instead going directly for the Anaheim player.

5. (The Play-of-the-Play).  The Anaheim player has the puck on his stick, and is well defended by Klein.  Both Hamhuis and Legwand have turned and are playing the puck.  Thus, all three are focusing on one player.  We've seen before that bad things can happen when defenders over-play the puck

6.  Thus, two other Anaheim players, the primary assister and the goal scorer, can skate freely into scoring position.

This is the play of the play-of-the-play because, if either Hamhuis or Legwand played his man, the goal would not have happened.  Until this point, this play looks like any other hockey play.  Now, however, the Preds' fate is sealed.

7.  Hamhuis goes down to block a shot, against the Anaheim player he is responsible for.  A decent move, though a last ditch effort for being caught out of position.  Legwand does the same.  The only problem is that his man is the one wide open in the slot.

8.  By the time Legwand tries to recover, the shooter, Matt Beleskey, has a wide open net to score on.  Rinne is hopelessly out of position from being bounced around by two excellent passes.  With this, the Ducks go up 2-0.


Like last week's tilt against Anaheim, this could easily be another clinic on how great passing scores goals.  However, in this one, its pretty clear to me that these passes could have been (or should have been) broken up by better defensive play.  Whether this goal is exclusively Hamhuis' and Klein's fault is debatable.  They certianly don't look great on this play, and seeing how I didn't see the rest of the game, I can't speak to it.  I am looking forward to breaking down more against them in the future.  Until next time, PredNation, take care.

The Poll


  1. Although Legwand is the one most out of position when the goal was score, he was likely dropping down low to help out Hamhuis, who was in a defensive pairing he is likely not used to. Who else was on the ice who could have picked up that guy in the slot?

  2. I'll take Leggy on this one, coming down to help Hamhuis isn't neccesary there, he has to guard the slot.

  3. Anon. The two wingers on this one were Martin Erat and Steve Sullivan. However, as the wingers, their responsibility is to cover the Anaheim defensemen at the points. Thus, dropping into the slot would be either an amazing defensive play, or would draw them terribly out of position (depending on whether it was successful, I suppose).