Chalk Talk

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.

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12 Responses to Chalk Talk

  1. Nick says:

    Nice breakdown. I think you are spot on with the analysis. Ham is a defensive defenseman. There is really no need for him to pinch ever because: A. He doesn’t have the offensive acumen to do this, B. Soupy’s skill set is to do exactly what he was doing on that play, trying to provide some Offense.

    Ham should always be staying at home unless there is communication between he and Soupy, which clearly there wasn’t on that play.

    Agreed with you on Sharp as well. Obviously the hawks are looking to establish a puck possession game, and to do that effectively you need to cycle. That entails always having support along the boards, making sure the man with puck has more than one option. The forwards need to be aware, especially when Kane has the puck, as he plays like a center, free roaming the ice looking for the set up.

  2. Ban says:

    The only reason I could see Hjalmarsson pinching in during that particular moment was knowing that there were roughly ten seconds on the clock and figuring that Detroit didn’t have enough time to get something going even if they did get control of the puck.

    I could understand his reasoning but I don’t necessarily agree with his decision.

  3. feyer says:

    You for got to say “Stop it right here!” 😉

  4. Razzberry says:

    Needs more telestrator.

  5. Patrick says:

    I would add that Niemi didn’t have his stick on the ice, exposing the five hole to PD a big way. If this were Huet, he would have been crucified for being “in between” on the butterfly, but since it’s Niemi, it was jsut a breakaway. All goalies go through rough stretches, including Brodeur, Miller and Louongo, but as long as it isn’t in the playoffs, the team’s fine.

    This was simply a “team” loss. The best way to fix it is to focus on team D. You can’t put it on one person, and the Hawks almost came back to tie it up, no less. None of the Hawks took the Wings seriously. I DO NOT want the Hawks to see them in the first round!

    All ye, hope it not lost! Regardless of who the goalie is.

  6. John says:

    I’m of the belief that people are through with giving Niemi a break. He seems to be getting just as much criticism as Huet as of recently.

  7. JimH says:

    To me it looks like as Kane comes out to the blue line to take Campbell’s spot, Campbells starts skating to his left as if to occupy Ham’s spot on the left point but then cuts to the net. I think Ham was rotating to the left winger’s normal spot on the opposite side of the ice after he saw Campbell skating towards his spot and he was deeper into the offensive zone than Campbell. Obviously a miscommunication between the two.

    Reminds me of how Hossa gets so many short handed breakaways or 2 on 1’s. Everyone is focusing on offense and the long, active stick pressuring the point (hat tip Edzo) gets the turnover.

  8. John says:

    Good call Jim. I didn’t think of that. Excellent point.

  9. CT says:

    I am recommending this post to all the young hockey players out there.

  10. Mike says:

    I like the analysis, and I especially like the third paragraph. I’ll admit I was less then pleased with Kane near the end of last year, but his performance in the Olympics alone has made me eat my words. Given their positions at the time of the breakaway, I can’t think of any player who would have been able to catch PD. This team should not need to keep having reminders to play a full game this late in the season, nonetheless, it was. It will be forgotten with another deep playoff run.

  11. Dave Morris says:

    I second the recommendation…for all you young hockey players out there.

  12. Brian D says:

    Am I imagining it, or does Campbell throw back his head in disgust at 5 seconds into that clip?

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