Yesterday afternoon I stumbled on the following quote from Mike Knuble on the Capitals official website. Knuble is answering a question in reference to change of habits that need to occur

So, in that little answer to the question asked, Knuble slightly revealed Dale Hunter’s game plan for last night’s contest.

Get the puck out of the zone any way you can and use the wall to your advantage.

I immediately began thinking of Dan Bylsma licking his chops. The Penguins forcheck is specifically designed to take the wall away and make players turn up ice and make an outlet pass in the face of danger.

Picture yourself as an NHL defenseman, you’ve got a dump in to go chase in the corner with Chris Kunitz bearing down on you. You know you’re going to take a hit. What’s easier? Throw the puck off the wall to a teammate or attempt to play or skate it up ice with Kunitz set to destroy you?

Check out the diagram below, however. The Penguins specifically take the wall away and force teams to absorb punishment and turn the puck over.

This is why Dan Bylsma says hitting is an “investment” in hockey. You’re investing your energy in creating turnovers and taking space away.

The Gold X’s in this diagram represent the Penguins once the puck has been dumped into the zone and the retrieval process has begun.

The Black X represents the opposing defenseman that is retrieving the dumped puck.

Take a look at where the Penguins have their bodies located. One man on the defenseman making a hit.

Two men along the wall, taking away any play you can make off the glass.

Two defenseman in support up top waiting for that juicy turnover.

The Penguins forcheck takes the easy stuff away.

Dan Bylsma is essentially saying, “Go ahead, turn around and make an outlet pass in the face of this pressure, because you can’t use the wall against us.”

Take a look at the end of the third period, the Penguins were in total control. The Caps were trying to make the easy plays up the wall, and the Penguins took it away.

Cooke Headshot by Carlson

On a more serious note, many of you may have been like me and missed the Matt Cooke headshot at the end of the game.

The Capitals John Carlson reaches out, extends the elbow, and drives through Cooke’s head at the end of the game. There was no penalty called on the play and it happened just as time expired.

Will this be reviewed by Brendan Shanahan? You make the call. Will the “well, it was Matt Cooke” argument be used to justify this action?