FF Telestrator: Game 27 vs. Bruins
Let’s start by taking a look at the goal that opened the floodgates for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Until teams start paying attention to Chris Kunitz, he’s going to keep burning them like this over and over again.
This play starts off a dump in. We’ll get to the structure of that later. Kunitz corrals a Boychuk clearing attempt along the wall and reverses play to Letang at the near point.
This yellow line is indicative of the path Kunitz is going to take to get into scoring position during this sequence.
While the puck goes D to D at the point, Kunitz is covering a lot of ice to get open in the circle.
Deryk Engelland is about to throw this puck back across the blueline to Kris Letang.
Take a look at Kunitz. This looks pretty good for the Bruins, right? Kunitz has a guy on his hip and another forward in the slot ready to man up on any traffic between the potential shooters at the point and the net.
Kunitz isn’t finished yet, though. Watch him drift into open space and find the key area of the ice.
We’ve shown this same play on the telestrator three times this week. Kunitz is drifting backwards, head up towards Letang, right into a deadly area of the ice. He’s already cocked back ready to rip that one-timer off as soon as the puck gets there.
Lines of sight for the Bruins are focused on Letang. The Penguins are engaged in a massive battle in front of the net. Chara is busy with Dupuis, and Crosby is battling in the front of the net a well. Kunitz has two and a half days to rip this puck off, but he knows the quicker he shoots, the more likely he’ll catch Khudobin off guard going side to side.
Cross-ice feed from Letang right on the stick of Kunitz. Look at how much ice Kunitz covered inbetween two D to D passes! He’s on the other side of the ice! And, he’s got a wide open door to shoot at as Khudobin is forced to change completely from one side of the net to the other all while being two feet deep in his crease.
Kudos again to the job Kunitz is doing to get open.
Let’s move on to the Penguins dump and chase strategy and why it worked so well.
Here’s the start of a Penguins dump that will be chased down by the Penguins second line.
The green check marks are indicative of where the Penguins are going to post up on this clearing attempt by the Bruins.
Imagine you’re an NHL defenseman. Let’s say someone just dumped the puck into the zone. You have to face an intense forchecking pressure from the other team, from a vulnerable and stationary position. The logical response would probably be to throw the puck along the wall, right? Well, the Penguins take that option away from you, and here’s what the result is.
Here come the Penguins. Boston won’t let them skate the puck in, so they’re going to make Boston pay by completely grinding them down along the wall.
The Bruins defender has no options here. The wall is pretty much out of the question, especially considering that James Neal is ready to pounce on a weak backhand clearing attempt.
And there it is. Beau Bennett’s pressure has caused the Bruins defenseman to turn this puck over behind the net to James Neal. Neal has Jeffrey across the crease wide open, but he couldn’t corral the puck quick enough to make a pass.
Still, this dump in created havoc down low that gave the Penguins a legitimate scoring chance early in this game.
Let’s take a look at a few stills that highlighted a great penalty killing effort by the Penguins just a few short weeks ago against the Islanders.
Pay particular attention to the pressure and the gap kept by the Penguins PK unit during this sequence.
There are no lanes. Craig Adams and Tanner Glass have basically shut down any open lane up top through intensity and anticipation.
Here’s the Penguins hanging back and basically letting the Bruins have a go at it with no pressure provided.
The Penguins are at their best when they’re all over the puck carrier. This was a turnover by Martin that transformed into a wide open blast from Zdeno Chara with an unmarked forward standing in Fleury’s line of sight.
Maybe the Penguins are in their own heads a little bit, but for all the success they’ve had on the offensive side of the ice, this penalty-killing unit has got to make some strides to keep this team out of trouble.