Two unexpected things: (1) Having so many Predators goals to choose from and (2) another Brandon Yip goal.
Hey guys! Sorry this took way more than a week. I got unusually busy, and then last night Nemo hit, so I've been running around doing lots of non-hockey stuff. As a quick aside: during the Kings GDT I said I would post pictures from Nemo, so here's what my street looked like today.
If you were in the Preds@Wild GDT tonight, you've already seen this, but here's a panoramic of my street (open in new tab to make it bigger)...
Here's what the street looked like this morning before everyone started shoveling...
And here's what it looked like after everyone shoveled...
Impressive, no? We got about 2.5 feet, maybe more with the drifts. My hands are killing me, as this was the first time in almost 24 years I had to shovel snow. It sucks. Avoid it forever, if you can.
Anyway, back to the post. There were three games last week, so I picked one goal from each game. Not exactly a lot to pick from (until Tuesday), but I found some good stuff, so let's get to it!
January 31: Predators vs. Kings (2-1 SO)
Preds: Brandon Yip (2) from Gabriel Bourque (2) and David Legwand (1) on Jonathon Quick
This is a set play by the Predators. Yip has abandoned his normal right wing position and is instead standing behind Leggy. The hope is that Leggy will win the face off back to Yip, who can take a shot on goal. To make it easier to see where everyone is supposed to go, I labeled the Kings by their positions, not their names.
The Kings LW has moved to the opposite side of the face off circle to be closer to Yip. When the puck drops, Yip is his man to cover, and considering that this is a set play, this is a big deal. The D has scooted over a bit to cover the RW's spot and make sure there isn't a big empty hole. He has two positional options: the extremely likely option is that he will drop back behind the center; the very unlikely option (that is still worthy of consideration) is to cover Yip if he gets the puck. The Kings RW is back slightly from the circle and will cover Roman Josi if he gets the puck. The D in front of the net is covering Gabby, and maybe dropping behind the center if the other D heads towards Yip. The C will cover Leggy.
Here we have a bunch of things going wrong for the Kings all at the same time. I get the impression that they didn't really talk to each other before the puck dropped. Like at all. Because four different people almost immediately become ineffective. Guys 1 and 2: Both defensemen decide to fall back behind the center. I understand one guy going back there, because if the Kings win the face off someone needs to pick up the puck, but two guys? ...why? (Plus, the orange defenseman is supposed to be covering Gabby.) That unlikely option for the green defenseman to cover Yip is technically still open, but I understand why he didn't do it, and that's fine. Guy 3: LW decides to cover Gabby instead of Yip... who was the whole reason he moved to that side of the circle. If you're going to do that, TELL A TEAMMATE. Guy 4: RW gets a tiny finger wag. He's just kinda chilling in the slot the whole time. That's great, but there's no one there to cover. Considering that LW isn't doing the job expected of him, you know what would be helpful?? Doing LW's job. All RW needs to do is challenge the very blatantly open Brandon Yip. Just skate a couple feet towards him, at the very least. Why wouldn't you cover an immediate threat that isn't being covered?
Anyway, Leggy has kinda won the face off and Gabby has sped towards the puck. He's gonna snag it and chuck it back to Yip, who actually has to stretch pretty far to grab it.
Aaand that's all she wrote. Yip has all the room in the world, and was actually able to ring the puck off the pipe and into the top right corner from there, despite having to reach for the pass. Who knew he could snipe a shot like that! RW is still not doing anything, and the four other Kings are all hanging out within about ten feet of each other. I'm assuming that LW thought RW would cover Yip, but clearly that wasn't communicated very well. Oops. (By which I mean "HURRAY!")
Watch the entire video for the replay - that's where I took the screen shots.
February 2: Predators vs. Sharks (2-1 SO)
Sharks: Martin Havlat (3) from Scott Gomez (2) on Pekka Rinne
Anyone want to be mad at Sergei Kostitsyn? Now is your chance. This is the second time in two weeks I'm calling him out on twice screwing up on the exact same thing... twice. This was a consistent problem last year as well, and I'm sure Trotz and Co. have called him out on it, because when you look for it, it's really obvious.
So the Preds are on the penalty kill here and the Sharks are transitioning into the attacking zone. The Sharks defenseman, Braun, is going to dump the puck in, and Gomez and Hannan are going to skate after it into the corner. It's important to note here that the Sharks are also in the midst of a line change; the defenseman leaving doesn't matter so much, but the forwards changing means that someone is going to be joining the play a bit late, so someone needs to keep an eye out for him...........
Right now, everyone's relatively positionally fine. I'm not entirely sure Sergei or Weber is aware of Clowe sneaking down the far boards, but I'll give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that one of them has seen him. It would be nice if Sergei was a bit closer to him, but at least he's near by.
Pleasant surprise: Sergei its is indeed aware of Clowe and is covering him. Awesome. Upon dumping the puck into the zone, Braun is heading back to the blue line, leaving Fisher with no one to cover. Hannah is in charge of retrieving, controlling, and keeping the puck away from Gomez. Because Sergei has Clowe under control, Weber is moving to the back of the net to intercept Hannan and Gomez. The Sharks' third forward still hasn't entered the picture yet, so this is all fine. When he shows up, Fish and Tits should head up towards the points, form the box, and kill off the penalty. If you're unfamiliar with the concept of the PK Box, it looks like this. I don't really have a good reason to explain it for this goal, but it'll come up eventually and I'll discuss it then.
VERY rarely is that much room on the ice in your defensive zone a good thing. It's just a bad sign. Everyone here is doing their job, so it's not like there's been a screw up yet, but that much space makes me cringe.
As soon as Clowe decides to go battle for the puck behind the net with Gomez, Tits gives him up. I'd like to think that he knows the Sharks are missing a forward and he's circling up to find him, but he's just moving in the direction of the play. He leaves Clowe right in Fish's line of vision, so Fish knows what's up. I feel like Fish might want to head more towards the slot-ish area because someone needs to cover the slot and we still don't know where the Sharks' fourth forward is, but he decides to stay slightly behind the play instead. It's not a bad move, all considering. If the puck pops out behind them, he'll be able to clear it easily. If it goes towards the net, I guess he better be able to get there in time. Hopefully, since the puck is that far behind the net, it can't get to the slot very easily.
To the tune of "Here Comes Santa Claus":
Here comes Hav-lat, here comes Hav-lat, right down Sergei's lane!
Gomez and Weber, Hannan and Fisher, in him they have no say.
Alarm bells ringing, Tits's brain should be screaming,
"Havlat's scary and a-flight!"
Tits, hang your head and say you're sorry, cause Havlat's gonna score tonight.
...Not sure why I immediately went to a Christmas song when I saw Havlat coming in, but I tried to make the most of it. The puck's about to pop out on the far side of the net, and Gomez is about to snag possession of it. Fish is slowly making his way towards the net, following the direction of the play. Also, I'm absolutely positive that Sergei has ZERO idea that Havlat is right there. HEAD ON A SWIVEL!
What's about to happen next epitomizes my frustration with Sergei Kostitsyn. He has done so much correctly during this shift! He covered his man, he followed him in, he left his man in capable hands, and he was following the play. So many good things! And after all of that, he's gonna screw the pooch in one fell, inevitable swoop. Let's get it over with.
How? How does this happen? How does Sergei Kostitsyn let a dude skate right in front of him without (A) knowing that he's there, and/or (B) covering him?? He has to know there's a forward missing... shouldn't he want to know where that guy is? And it's not like Havlat is going a million miles per hour, either. He sorta casually wanders in.
This is what makes me even madder. When you watch the video, keep an eye out for this. Tits does a BACKWARDS CIRCLE before jumping towards Havlat. So he doesn't see Havlat enter the zone. ...okay. So he doesn't see Havlat until he skates right in front of him. ......fine. So he totally has the opportunity to power forwards at Havlat, and he skates backwards. Away from him. ...........NO. Ridiculous.
February 5: Predators vs. Blues (6-1)
Predators: Kevin Klein (1) from Jon Blum (1) and Martin Erat (4) on Brian Elliot
This was just BEAUTIFUL, and it happened because of a filthy move by.... Sergei Kostitsyn.
Martin Erat has the puck and he gets it all the way around the net to Sergei Kostitsyn, who is immediately challenged by David Backes. Tits pokes the puck between Backes' legs, gracefully dodges Backes' flying body, regains control of the puck, and calmly looks around, like you do.
Marty remains open, because the guy who was supposed to cover him (Russell) is now covering for David Backes, who is currently searching for his jockstrap in the 300 level.
Russell does a nice job of cutting Sergei off very effectively, but not before Sergei is able to make a lovely pass (imagine that) to Marty. Oshie then decides to leave his man (Fish) to cover Russell's man (Marty), because Russell had to leave his man to cover Backes' man, because David Backes lost his jock. Under Oshie's pressure, Marty slides the puck back to Jon Blum on the point. Backes, meanwhile, has picked himself up and is heading to the front of the net.
I feel like I'm telling the story of the old lady who swallowed the fly. So because Oshie had to leave his position to cover Russell's man, because Russell had to leave his position to cover Backes' man, who got deked out of most of his clothing by Sergei Kostitsyn, Vladimir Sobotka had to scoot clear across the ice, from left to right, to cover Oshie's man, leaving Sobotka's man (Klein) WIIIIIIDE open. David Backes was, of course, unable to follow this shift in player coverage, so he's just wandering around the slot right now and being completely unhelpful. Blum sees that Klein is fantastically wide open, and passes him the puck.
Full credit to the Blues - they all moved pretty damn quick. Unfortunately for them, however, that speed wasn't really conducive to anything useful. I looked up the within-rink measurements because of how hilariously small that patch of ice seemed, and sure enough... man that's not much room for 7 guys (8, if you count Elliot) to be packed into. Kudos to all the Preds for crashing the net, though! Klein has all the time in the world, and he's able to thread one through past Brian Elliot.
One mistake by one guy screwed up this entire thing for St. Louis, despite the fact that his teammates all covered for him. Kinda puts things in perspective, eh? What really sold me on this goal, however, was the Preds' movement, and their crisp passes. This game was one for the ages. We finally remembered that the season had started!! It was about damn time.
Watch it in its full glory: