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Frame-by-Frame Analysis: Gambling on the PK

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How NOT to defend a 6-on-3 in the final minutes of the game

Hello everyone and happy hockey season! I’m excited to be starting my Frame-by-Frame Analysis again! I’m sure there are a few of you who haven’t seen my articles before and don’t know who I am, so here’s what you’re getting into: My name is Caroline and I break down hockey plays - usually goals. I explain what happened and why through a series of marked-up still frames of the play. My credentials include 22 years of playing hockey, one year of coaching Squirts in Boston, 20 years of cheering for the Predators, and generally just watching a ton of hockey.

If you’re interested in checking out previous articles, which cover all manner of hockey plays, click the link below and browse away.

Now for today’s breakdown, a basic premise: the downside of gambling on the penalty kill.

(P.S. Tune in after the breakdown for a fantastic story from the game!)

Nashville Goal: Scott Hartnell (1) from Ryan Johansen (2) and Victor Arvidsson (1)

Replay of the goal starts around 20 seconds.

The Preds begin this play with on a 5-on-3 power play, which turned became 6-on-3 when they pulled Rinne for the extra man. Boston has defensemen Adam McQuaid and Brandon Carlo and forward David Krejci out to kill their penalties. Krejci’s job is to try to cut off cross-ice passes and block shots from the point and McQuaid and Carlo’s jobs are to clear out the crease and try to contain shots and passes from the half-walls.

The Preds set up an umbrella around the Bruins and moved the puck around them in an attempt to get a scoring chance. After a back-and-forth with PK Subban, Prince Filip of Forsberg makes a ballsy pass by sending the puck across the zone to Ryan Johansen.

Fil’s pass is still a little high when it reaches Joey and the puck banks off his left knee and bounces behind the net. It is at this point that the Bruins - specifically their defensemen - take a gamble that changes the course of this penalty kill.

Here we have what I like to refer to as the zone of “oh shit” because almost every time you have this much empty space in front of the net, it doesn’t end well for the defending team. It begins with Joey tipping the puck behind the net and McQuaid seeing an opportunity to control and clear it. McQuaid jumps towards the puck at the same time as Hartnell, and Carlo follows Arvy around the other side of the net. Krejci responds to this by sinking low into the slot to cover for his missing defensemen.

This is a great example of gambling on the penalty kill. When you’re out-numbered by (in this case) twice as many opposing players and the puck isn’t firmly in their control anymore, you jump on any chance you have to clear it. The downside, obviously, is that gambles like this don’t always end in your favor. However for a team like Boston, who had a league-best 85.7% PK last year and who is winning the current game by a pretty wide margin with barely any time left, it isn’t the worst move.

Unfortunately for Carlo, Arvy gets his stick on the puck first and banks it back around the net to Joey. This is a critical moment for the Bruins because if they can regroup quickly enough, they may be able to avoid leaving themselves exposed. This is a critical moment for the Preds because if they can’t score on a goddamn 6-on-3, then they probably don’t deserve to score anymore goals this year at all.

Hartnell rounds the net with a flourish, Arvy hot on his heels. McQuaid and Carlo realize they have been caught behind the play. Joey surveys The Zone of Oh Shit, waiting for a teammate to come into play. Krejci is positioned about as perfectly as he can be, both pressuring Joey and hoping to block any passes to the front of the net.

McQuaid and Carlo hurry back into position, but Hartnell is ready and waiting. Lookit that stance! He just can’t wait to get the puck on his stick!

BAM! The first of two in 73 seconds.

And here it is again.

And now for our bonus feature!

A Subban Shersey Story

Four friends and I decided to go to the Bruins home opener this year against the Preds. Four of us are hard-core hockey fans, but one (Matt) is brand new to hockey. He had only been to one NHL game and it was in Sunrise, Florida back when the Panthers were pretty terrible, so this was going to be his first real NHL experience (my apologies to all twelve Panthers fans). Matt didn’t have any gear to wear, and I couldn’t allow him to be scooped up by the two Bruins fans in our group, so I immediately suggested that he wear my boyfriend’s PK Subban shersey. To a Bruins home game.

Because we are kind people, we did warn Matt of the history between Boston and PK Subban and told him that he may be on the receiving end of some chirping or boos, but he was game to wear it anyway because hell - he doesn’t even know who the guy is! On our way into the arena we heard a few light boos and one guy told Matt he was pretty ballsy to wear that to the game, but things went surprisingly well as we entered the arena and enjoyed the first period.

And then Matt decided to hit the bathroom.

The reactions started as a gentle rumble, one or two lighthearted fans who noticed the offending name adorning his shirt and threw some boos his way, but it quickly grew into a cacophony as everyone’s attention was drawn to the giant 76 on his back. Matt, hardly able to remember the name on his shirt, was caught completely off guard. How do you bring yourself to respond to such visceral hatred when you’re distracted by the immediate realization that your friends have betrayed you? Drowning in boos, Matt clawed his way out of the bathroom and back to our seats, where he told us this story.

Matt has since forgiven me (I think), but I will now live forever in fear of his retribution. If you never hear from me again, tell my family and my boyfriend that I love them.

Patrick, Matt J. (brave soul!), Alex, Caroline, and Matt D.