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.
PITB’s list of the top 50 Canuck goals of 2011 begins next Monday, and you can rest assured that at least two of the goals the Canucks potted last night are going to be on that list: Henrik Sedin’s 1-0 goal and Alex Burrows’s 3-0 goal.
Now, Daniel already broke down the third goal, which is about as full of wizardry as Waverly Place, but with many raving about the wonders of Sedins’ first tally instead, I thought I’d take a closer look at that one as well.
The secret to defending the Sedins is very simple: don’t make any mistakes ever. If you leave a guy open for even a moment while they’re on the ice, there’s a pretty good chance that one of them will find him.
That’s how most of their goals are scored. Very rarely do they try to muscle their way to the net. They’re more content to move the puck around, forcing defenders to adjust to new alignments and, hopefully exposing, a new seam through which they can thread a pass. That’s what happens on this long give-and-go.
This play begins relatively innocuously, as Henrik Sedin carries the puck into the offensive zone after Alex Edler breaks up Matt Cullen’s shorthanded breakaway and immediately goes off for a change. You can see Kevin Bieksa joining the play in our first screenshot. Ignore him. He is of no consequence.
The other thing to notice in the screenshot below: because of the defensive change, while the Canucks are on a powerplay, they don’t outnumber the Wild on this rush. With Matt Cullen changing as well, this zone entry is a routine 3-on-3, with Henrik, Daniel and Kesler entering the zone and Mike Lundin, Nick Schultz, and Darryl Powe backing up to defend their entry.
Powe goes to Henrik on the boards while Schultz extends his stick to take away the option to pass the puck to Kesler. Note that everybody in white and green is watching the puck. This will be a theme.
Henrik sprints down the wall and Powe moves to check him. This is when Henrik beats him past the Playstation ad and makes a brilliant cross-ice pass to Daniel.
This pass is absurd. It’s just behind Schultz’s outstretched stick and perfectly weighted to land on Daniel’s without him having to come to a stop. Watch the way Daniel glides onto it. Ridiculous.
But I’m not the only one impressed with this pass. You’ll notice that everyone, save Ryan Kesler, is watching the puck, which I’ve circled.
Although the play develops very quickly, the pass is quite slow, meaning I can actually do two separate screencaps before it even arrives on Daniel’s stick. The one below makes it much clearer where the Wild’s defensive coverage breaks down. While Mike Lundin and Nick Schultz have finished admiring the pass and remain in good position on their respective checks, Darryl Powe continues to watch the puck sashay across the ice.
In fact, he’s even drifted somewhat towards it. Unfortunately, his love of Henrik Sedin’s pass leads him to briefly forget that Henrik Sedin is still skating down the wall. I drew red arrows around Henrik to really draw attention to the glaring error: never forget there are two Sedins.
Check it out: I was able to pinpoint the exact moment he remembers Henrik still exists.
By this point, however, Daniel Sedin is already in the midst of effectively one-timing a return feed, and poor Powe is forced to admire a second pass — the one to his wide open, long-lost check.
And finally, there are two things to notice about the moment that Henrik Sedin scores. The first is that he doesn’t shoot it very hard. Knowing that Backstrom is going to have to open up to come across, Henrik simply puts it low to the fivehole.
What’s the second thing? Ryan Kesler is such a jerk that, assured nobody is watching him during this moment of wizardous Sedinerie, he takes the opportunity to slewfoot Schultz for no reason just as the puck crosses the goal line. Never change, Kes.
Tags: Breakdowning, Wizardous Sedinerie