Breakdowning is a semi-regular feature on PITB wherein we take a single play from a game and break it down into its constituent parts to analyse it in detail. It’s also only three letters removed from being “breakdancing,” which is purely coincidental. Or is it? It is.
Monday night’s game against the Minnesota Wild was rife with wizardry, as the Sedins were in on three goals during the game, each of them magical. The first was a give-and-go that incredibly used the entire width of the ice and the second was off a sweet little tape-to-tape saucer pass from behind the net.
My favourite of the three, however, was the third goal, as it also involved the Sedins’ wizardous apprentice, Alex Burrows. The three of them managed to bewitch the Wild players into doing exactly what they wanted them to do, leading to a gorgeous goal by Burrows that sent Niklas Backstrom’s water bottle flying.
But why, exactly, were the Wild so befuddled? How did the Sedins and Burrows manage to score this fantastic goal?
Let’s start by identifying our players and the situation they’re in. Alex Edler has just turned the puck up ice and the Canucks are on the rush through the neutral zone. Things don’t look too bad for the Wild: Spurgeon and Scandella, who lead the Wild in icetime, are the two defencemen back and Gillies is on Daniel Sedin on the backcheck. They seem to be in good shape to handle the rush.
By the time the Canucks reach the Wild blueline, however, things have changed. The three Canucks have performed a simple criss-cross, but it seems to completely baffle Gillies, who has somehow let Daniel escape him. All is not lost, though: he just needs to skate hard to backcheck Daniel, as Scandella has Henrik and Spurgeon is watching Burrows.
Huh. That certainly doesn’t look like Gillies is backchecking Daniel. In fact, it looks like he’s going after Henrik, who Scandella has already moved towards. That doesn’t seem like a particularly good idea.
Turns out that it wasn’t a good idea. As soon as Henrik notices that Gillies has made a monumentally stupid play, he immediately feeds it to Daniel, who moves in with Burrows on a 2-on-1 against the 22-year-old Spurgeon. To his credit, Spurgeon knows the pass is coming. To his discredit, he has no idea when, and begins turning to check Burrows before Daniel has even passed the puck. So Daniel — stay with me here – doesn’t pass the puck.
At least, he doesn’t pass it right away. Instead, he toedrags it around Spurgeon who, having already committed to Burrows, awkwardly twists himself into a pretzel to try to get his stick in the way of the new passing lane that Daniel Sedin conjured out of nothing. That thing I circled there, the thing that Spurgeon is facing completely away from? That’s the puck. You usually want to be able to see where it is when you’re a defenceman.
Backstrom actually reads this play rather well; as Daniel passes it, he’s already sliding over to attempt the save off of Burrows.
Unfortunately for Backstrom, it’s not just anyone on the receiving end of that Daniel Sedin pass. It’s Alex “Apprentice Wizard” Burrows. The result? A popped water bottle. In the words of Magnitude: “Pop pop.”
Tags: Analysis, Apprentice Wizard, Breakdowning, Canucks, Wild, Wizardous Sedinerie