Breakdowning Mason Raymond’s first period goal against the Nashville Predators

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.

When the Canucks score 7 goals in a game, it’s tough to know which one to break down. We even had calls on Twitter to break down Henrik Sedin’s gorgeous penalty shot goal or Maxim Lapierre’s slick breakaway marker. As nice as those goals were, it’s more than a little difficult to break down a goal when it’s just one skater and a goalie. It would just be one screen shot with the breathtaking analysis of, “Well, you see, he did something the goalie didn’t expect him to do and the puck…well, it went in.”

It seemed obvious to me which one needed the full Breakdowning treatment: Mason Raymond’s seventh goal of the season, which came on a beautiful passing play that incorporated every single Canucks skater on the ice.

The execution on both the breakout and the subsequent 3-on-2 is simply flawless. Every coach should be showing this video to their team as an example of how it’s done. The puck goes from below the goal line in the Canucks’ zone to the back of the Predators’ net in less than 7 seconds. Let’s break down how it gets there:

As the play starts in the Canucks’ end of the ice, the Predators, down 2-1, are forechecking hard, with both Nick Spaling and Rich Clune going after Alberts, who has the puck. The Canucks, meanwhile, are providing good puck support, as Alberts has two options: make the safe play up the boards to Andrew Ebbett or the riskier pass to Kevin Bieksa between the two forecheckers.

It seems pretty obvious which one he’ll choose. After all, it’s Andrew Alberts, who isn’t exactly known as a puckmoving defenceman…

…except he totally is, at least for this one brief moment. His quick little backhand pass to Bieksa is gorgeous and completely unexpected. He is helped out by Clune coming in with his stick at his waist instead of in a potential passing lane, as Clune has just one thing on his mind: finishing his check. Alberts absorbs the hit to make the play, leaving both forecheckers trapped behind the play.

The Predators still wouldn’t be in that much trouble, but for Ryan Ellis anticipating that Alberts will make the easy play and coming too far down the boards to pinch on Ebbett and keep the puck in. Meanwhile, Brandon Yip bears down on Bieksa, hoping to force him into a bad pass. That leaves 1, 2, 3, 4 Predators (Ah ah ah ah ah) in the Canucks’ end of the ice.

Bieksa makes a nice backhand saucer pass to spring the odd-man rush the other way and it’s time to introduce three new players to our breakdown. Jannik Hansen takes the pass from Bieksa and streaks in with Mason Raymond on Scott Hannan, 2-on-1.

Only, it’s not going to be a 2-on-1 for long, as Ellis is a very good skater and quickly catches up to the rush. Fortunately, Ebbett is also there and has several strides on Yip, turning it into a 3-on-2.

Hannan comes across on Hansen, expecting that Ellis will then take Raymond, but the Canucks’ execution completely undoes that plan.

One of this line’s best attributes is their speed, as highlighted by Ray Ferraro, but the most important thing they did on this goal was slow down. Once Ebbett crosses the line, he checks his speed, creating a gap between himself and Hannan. Raymond, meanwhile, comes to a complete stop at the top of the faceoff circle. It wasn’t that line’s speed that created this opportunity, it was knowing when to slow down.

Unlike McBain, the Canucks did things by-the-book on this 3-on-2. I’ve circled Hansen and Ellis here, because Hansen’s role in taking Ellis out of the play is essential. Justin Bourne has talked about the importance of mid-lane drive on a 3-on-2, and Hansen’s play here is a textbook example. After dropping the puck off for Ebbett, Hansen heads straight toward the net, forcing Ellis to stick with him instead of picking up Raymond, the trigger man.

As Bourne put it, “It’s the most basic, effective script in hockey if you can count on that one guy.” That one guy, here, is Hansen. His mid-lane drive creates the passing lane for Ebbett to set up Raymond for the one-timer.

I just wanted to highlight the amount of flex Raymond gets on his stick on this one-timer. That’s called potential energy, class. And where does that potential energy go?

The back of the net. Well, some of it is lost as sound and a little heat from the friction. But it’s mostly kinetic energy.

Mason Raymond gets the puck up and goes blocker side, back against the grain. Rinne didn’t have a hope of stopping that shot.

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13 comments

  1. rsen9
    March 15, 2013

    The only thing that would make this even better is if it rung the post.

    … Not being bitter about Hodgson or anything like that. That was just a beautiful play.

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    • Zach Morris
      March 15, 2013

      (but it did ring the post)
      (you can hear the clink like a loonie into a busker’s tin)

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      • rsen9
        March 15, 2013

        oh, I can hear it now, my bad

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  2. madwag
    March 15, 2013

    “And what does that potential energy go?” make “what” “where” and this is a fantastic post. the analysis is exceeding succinct and simply spot on. cheers!

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    • Daniel Wagner
      March 15, 2013

      Ah yes, thank you.

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    • madwag
      March 15, 2013

      “exceedingly!” screams Gretchen Grouse the Grammar Geek except i beat her to it.

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  3. AlexB
    March 15, 2013

    I swore blue murder at Alberts when he made that pass, and not the simple, predictable play. Despite the success of this play, I don’t think that’s AA’s game at all. So much unpredicatbility from all of the D, both for good and bad, all season; makes you wonder what we’ll get in the playoffs from them.

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    • The Bookie
      March 15, 2013

      Me Likes Chaos.

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  4. Square Ball
    March 15, 2013

    That puck was so fast, I had to see the video several times before seeing where exactly it went. It should have gone through the net like Shea Weber’s shot once did.

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  5. Pukeko
    March 15, 2013

    Seems Alberts’ puck moving ability is directly proportional to the amount of flow he has coursing out the back of his helmet.

    Exhibit A) High and tight (Raleigh rigid)- one dimensional penalty factory (a la 2009/10 playoffs)
    Exhibit B) Rockin’ the locks (West coast zen) – slick puck moving d man.

    Perhaps a thought experiment for Mr Drance.

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  6. JanBanan
    March 15, 2013

    I love Breakdowning so much. Hockey, especially now, is a game of speed, but a lot of the time it’s hard to appreciate the skill with which the game is being played. You guys really do a great job of helping us appreciate each and every goal.

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  7. will
    March 15, 2013

    I thought it was interesting that you pointed out how Ellis skated down to try and cut off the anticipated pass up the boards to Ebbett. It seems to me that opposing teams have been camping on the Canucks making that play a lot this year. I’m sure that’s an adjustment many NHL teams make/face on a game to game basis, but I think it highlights how the Canucks have missed the reliable puck movement of a guy like Salo (or even Erhoff in light of Edler’s fairly routine brain cramps) when it comes to generating their offence off the rush or at the very least getting the puck out of their zone. Don’t get me wrong I’m not going all ‘why didn’t the sign Erhoff and Salo waaaaaah’, I just thought this goal highlighted one of the things that makes the Canucks a great offensive team; skilled (consistent) play from a D corps that is paid accordingly.

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  8. will
    March 15, 2013

    Also, that 25 second GoPro spot should be made into a commercial by the NHL much like the PGA tour’s “These Guys are Good” series. Of course I’m biased and you could easily do something similar using a goal from all 30 teams, but this shot and goal is particularly sublime. Watching it go against the grain like that, with the setup of Rinne popping up his glove (almost ‘cocking’ it beforehand), and given the amount of flex Raymond gets on his stick, it’s just one of those splitsecond moments of athletic brilliance that makes hockey such an amazing game, especially at this level.

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