Breakdowning is a semi-regular feature on PITB wherein we take a single play from a game and break it down into its constituent components to analyse it in detail. It’s also only three letters removed from being “breakdancing,” which is purely coincidental. Or is it? It is.
Sunday night’s game against the Detroit Red Wings ended up being a complete debacle — a full-on fiasco, if you will — but it didn’t start that way. The first period of the game featured five goals, four of which showcased impressive hard work and skill. It was entertaining, fast-paced hockey, and the Canucks thrived, finishing the period up 3-2, partly thanks to the Sedins working their wizardry.
Daniel Sedin’s first goal of the game was gorgeous, but it was also a little too typical: Henrik dipsy-doodled with the puck behind the net, Alex Burrows ran some interference, and Daniel got open in front to finish off the perfect pass. What I really appreciate from the Sedins, however, is their constant innovation. It wasn’t enough for them to score such a humdrum tally; they needed to do something new.
Daniel’s second goal certainly accomplished that, as Henrik intentionally iced the puck, banking it directly to the on-rushing Daniel, who flipped it past Jimmy Howard with casual ease. It was an electrifying goal that tied up the game and gave fans the misleading impression that the Sedins were not going to be stopped. But let’s not dwell too much on the negative, for the moment. Instead, let’s focus on breaking down that incredible goal.
This isn’t the first time they’ve tried this move, but, as far as I’m aware, it’s the first time it’s actually succeeded. They started trying it in the 2010-11 season, giving them another option for entering the offensive zone, but it had yet to result in a goal. The closest they’d come in the past was also against Jimmy Howard and the Detroit Red Wings, way back on January 8th, 2011.
Personally, I am astonished that the Sedin twins would attempt identical plays.
Seriously, it’s remarkable how similar these two attempts look. There are just two differences. In their previous attempt, Henrik launched the pass from the defensive zone and Daniel dragged the puck across the net to go far side. It should have been a goal, but Howard made an absolutely incredible save. Is it possible that Daniel remembered that previous attempt and chose to go short side this time, catching Howard completely off-guard?
Probably not. After all, it was over two years ago.
Let’s back up a bit to where the play starts in the defensive zone:
The Canucks’ breakout begins with good defensive positioning. After a shot off the rush by Damien Brunner deflects behind the goal, Alex Edler picks up the puck and, instead of sending it around the boards to Burrows, where Zetterberg likely would have picked it off, he controls the puck and moves it to Burrows through the faceoff circle.
Henrik is down low in front of the net, but is already anticipating the breakout and is heading up ice. Brunner is caught down low puck-watching, instead of anticipating the play, giving Henrik a lot of wide open space.
With Brunner nowhere near him, Henrik has ridiculous amounts of space. Because of this, Niklas Kronwall can’t pinch down the boards to either pressure Burrows or wipe him out with one of his patented back-checks. Instead, he has to back off to prevent a potential 2-on-1 from the Sedins.
This proves fortunate for the Canucks, as the pass from Edler bounces off the boards and over Burrows’s stick. Man, those boards sure are bouncy. I wonder if that’s foreshadowing?
Daniel has already taken off, expecting Henrik to employ the bank pass, but Jonathan Ericsson is, instead, looking at the puck. Against any other players, Ericsson’s actually in good position. Henrik’s normal passing lane to Daniel runs right through Ericsson, who can’t really be blamed for not expecting an intentional icing.
Brunner is skating hard to get back into position defensively and Burrows is a bit behind the play, so the Red Wings have to feel pretty good about how things are going so far.
Whoops. That line there? That’s not where a pass usually goes. The abnormally live boards at Joe Louis Arena kick Henrik’s bank pass out hard out to Daniel, who’s already angling towards the goal and using his body to prevent Ericsson from reaching the puck.
The Sportsnet intermission crew said some nonsense about the trapezoid allowing this goal to take place, but the placement and speed of Henrik’s pass gave Howard no chance to cut it off. I doubt even Martin Brodeur would have tried to play that puck.
Elliotte Friedman loved the goal, giving it a spot on his weekly 30 Thoughts column:
On an otherwise bad night for the Canucks, what an unbelievable goal by the Sedins to tie the game 2-2. It just shows how smart they are. Joe Louis Arena is known for the lively boards, but usually it’s the home team that takes advantage. Said Henrik: “It’s easier here. We’ve done it at home a few times… but it’s easier here.” It’s so rare to see visiting players know a rink like that.
After that pass, Daniel makes the finish look effortless.
Look at how angled Daniel’s skates are in that image. Howard has every reason to believe that Daniel intends to cut across the net and go around him with his backhand, as he did in the past. Instead, he moves to his backhand far earlier than expected and beats Howard on his blocker side as he slides across.Breakdowning, Daniel Sedin, Wizardous Sedinerie