FF Telestrator: Game 3
We could literally spend hours dissecting the defensive miscues and puck management errors that have plagued the Pittsburgh Penguins throughout the first three games of this series, but there are a few instances from yesterday’s game that I think bear repeating and analysis in the screen shots to follow.
One of the key aspects of hockey is keeping your head on a swivel and being aware of what’s going on behind the play.
Last week, we highlighted the game one penalty kill breakdown that would tie the game for the Flyers and force overtime.
In the screen caps below, Brayden Schenn skates into the zone uncontested away from the play, he sneaks in behind the Penguins penalty kills and scores a goal in the slot unmarked. The following screen caps should refresh your memory about that goal.
Pay close attention, because you’re about to see history repeat itself.
As you can see in the shots above, Brayden Schenn of the Flyers drives wide upon zone entry and all 4 Pittsburgh Penguins have their backs to him staring at the puck.
Take a look at this goal on the power-play from game three. We have a virtually identical situation on our hands.
The Flyers power-play structure here is similar to that of the Penguins. They have a net-front presence, a rover in the slot, a single man on the point, and two off-handed one-timers on either side of the ice.
Take a look at Matt Read. He’s all alone behind the Penguins defense. The high forward for the Pens has the rover in the slot tied up, the issue here is that no one is paying attention to Read behind the play.
All four Pittsburgh players are focused on the puck. No one has their head on a swivel.
Take a look at the lane that exists for Jagr to get this puck wide over to Matt Read. This is a high percentage scoring opportunity that will see Marc-Andre Fleury have to go left to right in a hurry.
All of the Pittsburgh penalty killers are engaged on the puck carrier, yet no one attempted to break up the pass that Jagr was about to make. If there was ever a time to dive at a player to ensure that he wasn’t going to throw a puck into a high percentage scoring area, this was it.
The Penguins have again allowed the Flyers to leave a man wide of the play unmarked. The only difference between this play and the previous one from Brayden Schenn is the fact that the initial goal was off the rush and yesterday’s was from set pressure. I am not sure which scenario is worse.
Here we have the end result. Martin did not prevent Jagr from making the pass, and Orpik is simply a passenger on this play.
Read had enough time to set up a nice picnic in the far circle, have himself a glass of wine, and read Grapes of Wrath before releasing this shot. Fleury’s busy with the man in front who Orpik has abandoned, and cannot get cross-crease far enough to prevent the scoring opportunity.
The Penguins were fairly charitable in their penalty kill this series.
I’d like to diagram one final aspect of yesterday’s game that is really a microcosm of what the Penguins have done in this series as a whole.
You’re about to see three key facets to why the Penguins failed on this play:
1. The puck didn’t get deep.
2. Players began to change when they shouldn’t have.
3. The defense gets caught flatfooted because of a turnover and let the Flyers walk uncontested into the zone for a scoring chance.
The Penguins are in the midst of killing off a penalty. Jordan Staal has just scored to bring the team within one goal of tying the game. Check out what happens next.
Giroux turned the puck over and Dupuis corrals it. He’s got Craig Adams immediately to his left. Dupuis needs to get this puck deep. The Penguins are in dire need of a change.
Watch what happens next.
This puck does not get deep. Instead, Dupuis casually plays the puck to the right off the boards. Seemingly for an outlet pass for Adams.
One major problem here: Adams is dead tired, the team needs a change, the defense (thinking the puck is leaving the zone) heads up ice to get to the bench in a hurry.
The puck doesn’t get deep. Adams heads to the bench for a change, forfeiting possession. The Penguins new defensive unit is already jumping over the boards, thinking that the change will be made in full.
However, the Flyers have the puck and will head north in a hurry. The players jumping over the bench have to hop back on, and the Penguins defense is, once again, on an island with nowhere to go.
The defensemen that were hopping over the bench are now climbing back on.
The Penguins defense was headed the wrong way. Simmons has the puck wide, per the Flyers designed breakout, and now has a clear lane with speed to the net while the Penguins defense, caught heading to the bench, can’t catch him.
Because the Penguins didn’t get the puck out of the net, they paid the price yet again. This time, the result was way worse.
And again, the Penguins charitable giveaways notch another goal in the column for the Flyers.
The Penguins coaching staff has a lot of work to do in terms of mental readiness. These mistakes are fine for games 1-10 of the regular season, but they are mistakes that a #4 seed shouldn’t be making in early April.