Anaheim Ducks Goal: Ryan Getzlaf (21) on Marek Mazanec, from Matt Belesky (8)
We're cutting in right after the Ducks dumped the puck into the Preds' zone. It got passed up and down the wall a little bit until Matt Belesky got ahold of it and passed it down to Ryan Getzlaf. Pressured by Mike Fisher, Getzlaf wings the puck down the boards to Corey Perry, our favorite Duck, who is waiting behind the net.
Roman Josi pounces on Perry and shoves him down from behind. To be quite honest, it wasn't that smart of a hit. Perry could have easily gone face-first into the boards and Josi could have gotten in a lot of trouble, so he's pretty lucky that didn't happen. Now this is where Josi ends up falling on his face and giving up the puck, so let's see take a closer look at what happened. Props to the camera men for zooming in on them behind the net, because otherwise I wouldn't have spotted this.
Not really a lot to say about this that I didn't already add in the captions. I'll just take one more opportunity to point out that Corey Perry drives me absolutely insane. I will also add that there is a ref standing JUUUST to the left of the NHL ad on the boards, so I'm not sure how he missed the blatant trip. So in all reality, this goal shouldn't have even happened because the Ducks should have gotten a tripping call right here.
With Josi on his face from tripping over Perry's leg, Belesky is able to swoop down and pick up the puck, which he passes weakly up to Getzlaf. Fisher and Getzlaf both poke for the puck. Weakly. Fisher sorta tries to get it up to Colin Wilson, who is curling and ready to take off down the ice, but it's a pretty weak attempt. Instead, the puck pops up into the air and lands right near the face-off dot. Nystrom also sees Fisher poke at the puck, and makes the move to transition up the ice with Wilson. That's all well and good until Willy doesn't actually end up with the puck.
It's always easier said than done, but if Fisher puts a little bit more effort into winning this puck, like maybe throwing his body at Getzlaf as he skates by instead of just kinda leaving his stick in the way, this goal might not happen. Josi giving up the puck because he got tripped was the first big problem leading to this goal. This is the second.
All three Preds forwards are now trying to transition from what they thought might be a break out and get back to the play, which the Ducks now control and are moving rapidly down ice. Getzlaf continues down the boards and Belesky flies up the ice to pick up the puck. Josi is now forced into making a tough decision that unfortunately leads to the goal. He rushes forward to pressure Belesky because no one else is doing it. Let's look at what could happen with or without Josi's pressure on Belesky.
Belesky with Pressure: The net is on Belesky's backhand, which makes it an unlikely immediate target. Getzlaf is left wide open, but he's also on Belesky's backhand and Josi is between them. Ben Lovejoy is wide open at the blue line on Belesky's forehand. Nystrom is covering him as the weak-side wing, but he's far away enough that Lovejoy would have plenty of time and space. This makes a pass up to Lovejoy seem significantly more likely than a pass back to Getzlaf or a shot on net. That's what I would predict Belesky to do, and that seems to be what Josi predicted he would do as well. Whatever Belesky's decision would be, Josi's pressure would force him to do it quickly and it prevents him from having a ton of time to sit and think about what to do. It takes away time and space. This is good.
Belesky without Pressure: Belesky already has a lot of time and space, as he's caught both Fisher and Nystrom flat-footed. If Josi also stays away from him, that gives him even more. All he has to do is spin a quick 180 before throwing the puck at the net. Or he could skate around a little, allowing his team to regroup slightly before deciding what to do. Or he might still pass the puck back to Lovejoy, but he can do so in his own time and decrease the likelihood of making a mistake under pressure. Regardless of what he might do, Josi not jumping on him immediately gives him a lot more time and space to make a decision. Getzlaf would get covered, but it would also give Belesky a wide-open chance at the net. And that is bad.
So Josi jumps up to pressure Belesky, and Belesky does what (I think it's safe to say) no one really expected him to do: he passes the puck back to Getzlaf, threading it through both Josi's skates and Fish's outstretched stick. Perry has finally hauled his ass up off the ice and made his way to the front of the net where Weber is hanging out. The two of them make a pretty solid screen in front of Mazanec, who can't see much of anything.
[Sad trombone noise.]
This was a multi-faceted and surprisingly complicated and weird goal. It stemmed from a bit of bad luck (the non-call on Perry, the puck popping up into the air), a little bit of bad positioning (all three forwards ready to book it out of the zone before we even had the puck), and a little bit of weak stick work (Fisher on Getzlaf, leading to the puck popping up). I'm not entirely sure who deserves the majority of the blame.
What really stung was discovering that Perry should have been called for tripping Roman Josi really early into this play. His trip lead to the turnover that lead to the goal. However, pucks get turned over in the defensive zone all the time, and winning those puck battles - or at least fighting tooth and nail for them - should be second nature. Letting guys like Ryan Getzlaf just skate past you really isn't acceptable, even if he doesn't have immediate control of the puck anymore (lookin' at you, Fish). Put a body on that guy! The pass by Belesky was, when it comes down to it, a clever and unexpected move that caught everyone off guard. So props to him for that.
Not every goal is clean cut, so I suppose I'll let everyone come to their own conclusion on this one. Leave your thoughts in the comment section so we can all hash this one out together!