In today’s Afternoon Analysis, we will take a look at not one, not two, but three different plays in honor of Friday and me having nothing else to do.
As you may have guessed from the title, today’s AA is Ranger-heavy. The first play we will look at actually features an Atlanta Thrasher, Colby Armstrong, who displays a how-to on how to drive to the net.
Armstrong, on a 2-on-2 with Evander Kane, takes the puck through the neutral zone with speed and dishes to Kane. He then drives right past the rookie Michael Del Zotto and is in the clear from the hash marks in. Kane finds Armstrong with the return pass and the Thrashers are on the board.
In fairness to Del Zotto, the new (are they new anymore?) rules prohibit him from impeding Armstrong. However, in this lengthy 2-on-2 Del Zotto should have recognized the speed of Armstrong and given an appropriate buffer. He sort of put himself in n0-man’s land when he hesitated and Armstrong was able to take advantage and get himself into the clear to score. Perhaps there was simply no denying him on this play short of taking a penalty. Thoughts?
The second play is another example of something I featured last week. I showed a clip of MA Fleury making an ill-conceived clearing attempt in the face of a forechecker, leaving his two defensemen flat footed and giving up a goal. Here, the Rangers Henrik Lundqvist makes a very similar play. When he attempts the Steve Staios (ringing it around the boards in an attempted break-out).
Much like the Fleury play, Lundsvist has a defenseman on the scene ready to take the puck off the dump in. Lundqvist instead stops the puck and throws it blindly (I am assuming here) up the boards where a forechecking Rich Peverley is waiting. He snaps a quick pass to Evander Kane in front of the net, and before Lundqvist or the D can recover, the Thrashers have scored.
While I realize this is a bit redundant, I just wanted to re-emphasize the importance of communication on the ice.
The third and final play is unfortunately another Rangers’ mistake. I am not sure how the players all got here, but the clip opens with the Thrashers’ Ron Hainsey with the puck on the Rangers’ blue line, and no less than four (4) Rangers’ stopping to watch him shoot, Gaborik and Prospal amongst them.
The one guy still moving his feet his Maxim Afinogenov, who glides right past the stationary Rangers’ (Sounds like the Office Max police) and picks up the rebound in the Rangers’ crease. Only a brilliant save by Lundqvist prevents a goal here.
Again, this is a case where several players lost their situational awareness. While its understandable that a couple forwards might have missed an assignment, I am not sure why both defenders decided to stop in their tracks to either attempt a block or just watch the shot. If not a bad defensive breakdown, this could also be an example of a communication breakdown. While this is still some fairly obvious stuff, I still like to show it as an example that even NHL’ers have these types of malfunctions. Remember that the more you think the game and the more you talk the game, the easier it can be.
Have a great weekend.