Note: This item was supposed to run yesterday, but I believe I made a mistake with the scheduling.
As much as it pains me to do so, I watched Calgary Flame highlights today in order to bring IC readers their daily dose of AA.
The first clip shows Jarome Iginla of the Flames making not one but two smart little plays that allow him to score a goal. The first thing Iginla does is make a smart pinch play on the boards to keep the play alive. Getting tight to the boards, he knocks down the puck and immediately gets the puck back deep. Lets call that nice play 1A.
Nice play two is what he does without the puck. Instead of watching to see what Glencross does with it, Iginla spots and skates to open ice and then gets himself in shooting position. Glencross (obviously not good enough to play with the Oilers/ sarcasm off) spots the captain and sends a pass to #12, which he promptly one-times past the Colorado keeper.
Because Iginla made this play look easy, you might tend to overlook it. That would be a disservice to yourself and to Iginla, because only the elite goal scorers in the league do this. Too many guys would either stay on the boards or otherwise take themselves out of the play. Iginla, channeling 99 by going to where the puck WILL be, makes for himself an opportunity to score. Knowing what to do without the puck is often what sets apart great players from good players.
Since I likely won’t be able to bring myself to watch Flames highlights for a long, long time, I will show this next clip featuring a textbook 3-2 play by the Flames. Shorthanded, the Flames catch a break when Kyle Quincey’s stick snaps in half (but, but…the players REALLY like them) and Rene Bourque clears the zone with Bouwmeester and Dustin Boyd. Quincey recovers and forms half of a defensive due, though without his stick he isn’t much good.
Anyways, Bourque and Bouwmeester are the only ones to touch the puck here, but they execute the 3-on-1.5 perfectly. Notice that all three Flames have their heads up and are watching each other and the defenders. Bourque dishes to Bouwmesster, who moves into the middle to get the defense to adjust. From there, he feeds a nice pass back to Bourque who beats Craig Anderson for the SHG.
Also note that Flames arranged themselves into a neat triangle and were able to use enough body language and skating to keep the Colorado defenders guessing and adequately separated, with Boyd acting as the decoy here. The Flames didn’t bunch up, they didn’t try a high-risk “pretty pass” nor did they wait too long to make a move. They just made the simple play and got a quality shot on net.