Here’s something which may or may not become a regular occurence at the Feather. I suppose we’ll see the reaction it gets. Anyways, since there was plenty of blame to go around from Sunday’s loss to the Red Wings, I’m going to take a look back at Detroit’s fifth and final goal of the game. In case you forgot and you’re a masochist like myself, indulge yourself:
Of course, the brunt of the blame on this specific play has been placed on the shoulders of Patrick Kane. He was the one who had his pocket picked by Pavel Datsyuk, after all, and tried to force a play that probably wasn’t there. Then again, he’s also the most offensively gifted player on the roster and he’s trying to make something happen at the end of a nightmare period. In hindsight, it was a bad idea that turned awful, but it wasn’t all on Kane (which I’ll get to in a second).
I’ll submit that the worst thing that could have ever happened in Kane’s career was catching Sidney Crosby on a breakaway in the gold medal game. Everytime he now doesn’t catch someone on a breakaway, people will automatically assume he’s dogging it.
Nevermind that Datsyuk’s momentum was going the opposite way of Kane’s. Nor pay mind to the fact that Kane immediately tried yanking Datsyuk down to prevent the breakaway and missed, thus costing him the precious first few steps in the footrace. In the final replay, you can clearly see Kane not giving up on the play until the puck is in the back of the net.
Alas, I’m off track now. Let’s breakdown the play, shall we. With 12 seconds left in the period, Kane picks up the puck in the corner. His two linemates, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp, are both standing along the boards. The moment Kane walks out along the boards, Toews heads to the front of the net and Sharp is closely behind to clear out room.
Toews certainly made the right play, but Sharp provided zero support for the puck-carrier by half-heartedly skating towards the front. Had Sharp stayed along the boards, he would’ve at least given Kane the option to swing the puck back down low. Not a horrific mistake, but he didn’t make the right play in this situation.
Now, to the most egregious mistake on the play. Have you seen it yet?
As the two forwards head to the net, Brian Campbell starts breaking down the slot. No surprise there. But watch very closely at the top of the screen. As Campbell moves down, his defensive partner, Ham Sandwich, is also trying to break towards the net. This is the absolute worst thing he could do and really, there’s no excuse for it.
He’s been playing with the same defensive partner for over 100 games now. He knows exactly what kind of player Campbell is. Why he felt at that point he needed to also pinch in is open to discussion. With three of his teammates heading towards Jimmy Howard’s crease, Sandwich needed to stay back, in case, I don’t know, Patrick Kane gets his pocket picked.
Even with Datsyuk stealing the puck at the blue line, if Ham Sandwich is staying back, he easily prevents the breakaway. Now maybe Datsyuk still dangles him or beats him in a foot race, but at least he would’ve had a chance to make a play. Instead, he was 100 feet away from the play.
For my money, this was a much worse decision than the one he made on the 2-on-1 with Bertuzzi and Fillipula. At least on that play, you could make the argument that he was doing all he could to prevent the puck from ever getting to Cristobal Huet.
*On the Farm*
—Kyle Beach scored Spokane’s first goal of the game in their 5-2 win over Kelowna.
—Byron Froese and the Everett Silvertips were shutout by Portland, 3-0.