FF Telestrator: Weekend Sweep Edition
The Penguins claimed two statement wins on the road this weekend en route to a 2-0 record against two division rivals.
The power-play was a big part of our discussion after the black and gold game this week. Let’s take a look at it in action last night against the Rangers.
The above overload set up features the Penguins flooding one side of the ice and giving themselves a distinct advantage in numbers on the strong side of the ice.
The low forwards create triangular scoring chances down low around the net, and they also isolate and draw the defense in to open up scoring chances on the weak side.
James Neal was able to beat the Rangers on the power-play last night in a picture perfect scoring chance generated off of this system.
In this still, forwards Kunitz and Crosby have retreated back towards the goal after the puck was worked high to James Neal. Neal is on the far point just out of this picture, waiting for the gift that Evgeni Malkin is about to dish to him.
Because Crosby and Kunitz are heading back to the net, the Rangers’ penalty-killers are draw low as well. The high/low motion of the Penguins power-play as put all the blue shirts down towards the goal, where they know the Penguins have numbers.
Like our early week example after the black and gold game, the seas part as a result of the Rangers collapsing. A lane has opened up to feed a cross-ice pass to James Neal, forcing the goaltender to go side to side and in a hurry.
In this set up, Chris Kunitz will always defer to front of the net, in addition to providing support down low in the boards when needed.
Kunitz set up shop in front of the net, and also managed to draw a penalty-killer there with him. Because Henrik Lundqvist had to move side to side on this play, he’s facing two issues. He’s deep in his net, and he has two players screening him on an already tough wrist shot.
Continue to look for the Penguins to create chances down low out of a triangular shape, and use that to open up lanes cross ice for side-to-side chances just like these.
Let’s take a look at two separate games from Sunday night that featured two eerily similar goals.
Pittsburgh and Buffalo are two teams that feature a good bit of team speed. When you have forwards with good wheels that have been pounding on the defense all night, you’re going to have goals like these scored regularly.
In the above still, Tomas Vanek was sprung on a long pass by the defense. He’s beaten both Philadelphia defensemen, who are now about to head back the other way in a hurry.
Because they’re charging the net to get a grasp on Vanek, they’ll lose a bit of on-ice awareness here after Bryzgalov stops Vanek’s breakaway attempt. Pay close attention to the area in the yellow circle on the next still.
Here’s your cause for concern. Bryzgalov is out of position having come off a glove side save against Vanek. Vanek is no longer in the picture, he’s also taken Braydon Coburn into the boards with him.
Cody Hodgson is crashing on that puck, and forward Jakub Voracek can’t do anything about it. Hodgson would bang this rebound home to give the Sabres the game tying goal.
How about Joe Vitale doing the same to the Rangers and Tyler Kennedy playing the role of Hodgson?
This one is a little worse for the fact that the Rangers actually have guys back in this picture. Vitale grabs this puck in the neutral zone and uses his acceleration to his advantage. He’ll drag the puck wide along the boards and squeeze through a body check with a clear path to the net.
Because of one smart and easy pass in the neutral zone, play is now reversed in a major way to the Rangers. The defense is now chasing down a free man in Joe Vitale who has both Matt Cooke to his right and Tyler Kennedy trailing the play.
The old adage says go to the net to see good things happen. Kennedy is driving to the goal mouth and the Rangers defense is backed up big time following Vitale. The space between Kennedy and the back checking forwards means someone in front of the net better watch Kennedy trailing this play.
The Rangers, just like the Flyers before them, overskate the play. Not only does Tyler Kennedy have a ton of space to find this rebound, but he could have gotten three cracks at this puck before he’d even been touched.
We heard “speed kills” all weekend, and based on what we saw last night, a few quick transitions in the opposite way can create a lot of space for unmarked guys to sail into the goal crease and hunt rebounds.