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Afternoon Analysis

Afternoon Analysis: What We Learned in the AHL

Sticking with the theme of the smart and simple play, I saw two instances last night that I wanted to point out today. Both are mind-numbingly simple, like figuring out the killer on Murder, She Wrote, but both are also effective. Just like Angela Lansbury.

Smart Play 1

Smart Play 2

In Smart Play 1, the newly recalled Ryan Potulny (one of two “Prides of Grand Forks” along with Goon) carries the puck unopposed into the near corner of the Colorado zone. Having watched countless Oiler games, I can tell you with certainty that most of their players would have either skated behind the net (its as good a place as any to lose the puck) or thrown a blind pass into the slot after effectively checking himself into said corner.

Potulny, being new to the team, makes a heads up play by simply directing the puck on net. At this extreme angle, he obviously has little chance of scoring, but he really isn’t after a goal here. Having spent some time in college, Potulny is an expert on rebounds. He knows that a goalie will sometimes give you a second shot, and that is precisely what happens here. Craig Anderson kicks out a juicy rebound and Potulny gets a second, higher percentage chance from the low-slot. He doesn’t score, but gets a good chance from making a smart decision.

Smart Play 2 also features a recent AHL call-up in Liam Reddox. Reddox had just led a charge up ice into the Avalanche zone and failed to connect on a pass. Being a smart kid, he just went to the net area and ended up with the puck out of a scrum. He promptly got himself into a shooting stance and directed a back hand on net, where a rebound found its way to Andrew Cogliano and then into the back of the net.

I would imagine you were suitably unimpressed by this non-display of top end talent. Looking at the situation again, you can see that Reddox did several things correctly. First, he was in the right spot. He just came from the left wing side and could have continued to hang out behind the net or circle lazily on the perimeter. Instead, he went into the tough area and found the puck. Second, he saw some open space and he used it. A quick step and he was able to not only find some room, but he used it too. Finally, he knew that the Colorado goalie and defence were in a little bit of disarray, so he threw a backhand towards the net and it resulted in an eventual goal. No spin-a-rama, no stop and plant for a slapper. Just a muffin backhand.

The point of today’s post is that you really can’t go wrong getting a shot on goal. It may not always be the A. choice, but it likely won’t hurt you either. Just two more examples of how valuable a resource your head can be in a game.