FF Telestrator: Epic Comeback Edition
If we’ve learned anything about the Penguins over the course of the last week, it’s that they’re a very resilient team. That being said, coming back down three goals isn’t exactly a recipe for success in the long run.
Hopefully, the Penguins that showed up for the final 40 minutes in Philadelphia last night are the ones we continue to see moving forward.
Let’s take a look at the James Neal goal that brought the Penguins within one. A major advantage for the Penguins late in the game was not getting caught in the middle of the ice heading into the zone by the Flyers.
In the first period, the Flyers stood the Penguins up, controlled the gap, and created turnovers off of the Penguins rushing the puck into the zone.
This is where the stretch, tip, dump comes into play (I couldn’t think of a better name.)
Essentially, the deep defenseman lobs the puck up towards the offensive blueline where a stationary forward tips the puck to get it deep behind the net without having an icing call made.
The far forward beelines into the zone and chases the dump down on the other side of the ice. The forward that made the tip also chases in case play reverses.
This not only punishes opposing defensemen, but creates space later in the game. Let’s take a look at what Beau Bennett did with that space.
This is about halfway through the second period. The Flyers D was hemmed in their own end for the majority of this time and were pretty used to the Penguins dumping the puck in at this point.
Let’s focus on the gap kept by the Flyers D here as Bennett rushes the puck up ice.
As Bennett is crossing the offensive blue line, the Flyers D continues to back up, almost as if they’re anticipating a dump-in.
This is what continually pounding the defense all night will do for you. Bennett had the chance to walk that puck into the zone to create a chance, whereas in the first period, the Flyers had already stood up there and created a turnover to go the other way.
Bennett would eventually turn the puck over here, but he’d beat Simmonds and set up Neal for the third goal of the game. He could have taken this puck wide and beat Grossman in this case. He walked into the circle uncontested. That’s what the speed and pressure of dumping the puck in will do to an opposing defensive unit. All of a sudden, space comes out of nowhere and the gap becomes 100 miles long.
One of the keys to victory for the Penguins that we talked about all night on Twitter was their board work and the Flyers inability to hang with them down low.
Once the Penguins were able to establish offensive zone possession, they started to use the boards like a teammate. They protected the puck well and outmanned the Flyers. Defensemen like Kimmo Timonen had a very hard time winning those loose pucks along the wall and the Penguins victimized the Flyers as a result.
Kennedy has established offensive presence in the boards, beating two Flyers to the puck and shuffling it along to Brandon Sutter, who will walk the puck out in front of the net.
Matt Cooke is going to drive to a key area to scoop up a loose puck and create a goal simply by using the wall to beat a Flyer and shield the puck from the defense.
If this goal looks familiar, it’s because we looked at virtually the same goal on Tuesday
Cooke grabs the rebound and will wheel out along the wall. Like we mentioned on Kunitz the other day, Kennedy drifts into scoring position.
The key here is look at the orange shirts that should be able to prevent Cooke from walking this puck along the wall. This is a great example of the Flyers getting beat in key battle areas last night.
The Flyers are beat here. Erik Gustaffson is on Cooke’s back but literally has no play on this puck. Couturier isn’t even skating. Sutter is keeping the Flyers busy by heading into the front of the net.
Kennedy drifts into space, the Flyers can’t make a play on Cooke, and like Dupuis before him, Brandon Sutter will drive to the net and screen the goaltender.
Again, the Flyers are focused on Cooke here. Kennedy is telegraphing the pass and they still don’t mark him. Sutter goes to the front of the net and creates a really nice screen in front of Bryzgalov.
It’s encouraging to see this working for the Penguins. That’s two carbon-copy even strength goals in two games. The Penguins are playing to their strengths on offense.
Because of some buggy equipment today, I don’t have the time to take a look at as much as I’d like, but the Penguins need to continue to cut down on turnovers, win the play along the wall, and most importantly, keep the front of the net clean. I wanted to take a look at the Zac Rinaldo goal here, but I think we all know what happened there enough to not have to relive it again.
The Penguins need to carry this last 40 minutes with them to Saturday, the Leafs can skate, and it’s going to be a true battle.
Addendum! Also make sure you stop by The Pensblog to check out the awesome gif of Mark Eaton blocking a key shot late in the game that possibly prevented a goal.