Saturday, April 17, 2010

Anatomy of a (GW) Goal: Getting the Puck in Deep

What a game last night Pred Nation!  One thing that I think Nashville did extremely well last night was get the puck in deep.  Why is that important, and how did it lead to the Predators' first-ever-playoff-road-game-winning goal?  Here is the first Playoff Edition of "Anatomy of a Goal."

Its been a while since the last AOAG.  Here's the legend for a refresher on what everything means.

The Video

The Breakdown
1. The Predators have done a good job of getting the puck deep in the offensive zone.  The play starts with a Preds turnover in the corner.  Chicago #22 will recover the puck.

2. This shot is critical to showing how the Preds will win this series.  Notice the Chicago wingers (at the red dotted line).  They are very deep in the zone (put another way, they are very close to their own goaltender).  The Preds can really reduce Chicago's forwards' speed and reduce the possibility of a Chicago offensive breakaway by forcing their forwards to play defense and stay low in the zone, like they are above in 2.

3.  Chicago gains control of the puck.  Predators defense is well positioned (i.e. not scrambling).  The Predators forwards are backchecking.  This is all good for the Preds.  Chicago, on the other hand, are all very close together.  There is no long-bomb pass that is available to quickly get down ice.  When you hear commentators say talk about the importance of Predators "getting the puck deep", this is what they are talking about.

4.  The "Play of the Play".  Smithson's strong backchecking pressures Chicago #22.  Because #22 sees no one in front of him to pass to, he tries to skate around Smithson.  There are two problems with this decision for Chicago. First, he does not make the easy pass to the LW at the bottom of the screen.  Second, he keeps the puck in the zone.  By keeping the puck in the zone, the Predators will not be offsides if they regain possession.

5.  Chicago #22's poor decision to try to skate around RW Smithson results in a turnover, as LW J.P. Dumont skates from behind and steals the puck.  What makes this more difficult for Chicago is that their skaters were anticipating being on offense, and are out of position once the play shifts back to defense.

LW Dumont makes a quick, accurate pass to C Legwand. This pass puts alot of pressure on the last Chicago defenseman.  Lets see what happens...

6.  Oh!  The turnover and the quick pass have left Chicago completely out of position, and scrambling.  Notice that all three skaters are focused solely on (the impossible task) of catching C Legwand.  No one is taking responsibility for LW Dumont.

7.  C Legwand's shot creates a rebound.  The Chicago defense is unable to clear the puck: #6 dove, and is pretty well useless at this point; #5 overskated the play; #22 was not fast enough to get back, and has realized (too late) that Dumont is crashing the net hard.

8.  If you are Chicago, this is the last image you want to see.  The goalie is dead to rights.  The defense is woefully out of position.  Dumont has a fat rebound on his stick, with plenty of open net to put it in.  Goal Preds.

The Poll


  1. Great breakdown as always, Josh! Welcome back, I've missed these! :)

  2. Thanks AJ. Hopefully going to crank it up during the playoff run.

  3. Beautiful analysis. Here the Preds make good use of Smithers' D, Leggy's speed and JP's old-pro go-to-the-net instinct. They earned this GW goal.