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.Tags: Andrew Alberts, Andrew Ebbett, Breakdowning, Canucks, Jannik Hansen, Kevin Bieksa, Mason Raymond, Predators