Much like Stella Payne, Jordan Schroeder had lost his groove, so the Canucks sent him down to Chicago to get it back. On Tuesday, he made a strong case for having rediscovered it.
Alain Vigneault faced a lot of criticism for his decision to pair Jordan Schroeder with Dale Weise and Tom Sestito in the games before Schroeder’s demotion to the minors, but much of it was misplaced. Sure, Schroeder is the most skilled player on that line, but that should be perfectly clear. To be a centre in the NHL, you have to be able to elevate your wingers rather than falling to their level, and Schroeder was unable to stand out on that fourth line during his first stint with the team.
Early in his second stint, however, he finally broke through, making Dale Weise look like the Daniel Sedin to his Henrik as the two combined for a highlight-reel goal that turned out to be the game-winner. It’s a great goal, and it only gets greater the more you watch it. How does a 2-on-4 during a line change turn into a down-low 1-on-0 for Dale Weise in a matter of seconds, especially against the St. Louis Blues, who are usually airtight defensively? Well. Let’s break it down.
But first, let’s watch it again, because it’s awesome:
This play begins in the neutral zone, where Daniel Sedin is parked at centre ice, hoping to gain the red line so the Canucks can complete a line change. But instead of just dumping the puck into the St. Louis end, Daniel spots Jordan Schroeder streaking up the ice, and simply pokes the puck out of David Backes’s lane and over to Schroeder.
The rush has begun, and Daniel heads to the bench to change off.
I like to think that Daniel didn’t just impart the puck to Schroeder, but also passed along the Sedins’ uncanny ability to make a pass that thoroughly befuddles and breaks down an otherwise well-structured defence, because the moment Schroeder takes this puck, you’d think he was Henrik Sedin.
Daniel’s blessing begins what should be a relatively easy 2-on-4. Schroeder and Weise are crossing the blue line, yes, but the Blues are in good defensive position, with Alex Pietrangelo and Barrett Jackman back, David Backes trailing the play, and Alex Steen on the far end of the ice, watching for trailers and whatnot.
This is when Schroeder gets wizardous, curling away from the goal and into the middle of the ice, not unlike Henrik Sedin often does. And that simple move breaks the Blues. This is your screenshot of the Blues falling apart:
It doesn’t look like much, but here’s what you’re seeing. Both Jackman and Backes are watching Schroeder, along with Steen and Pietraneglo. Suddenly, all four defenders on the 2-on-4 are checking one guy. Meanwhile, Weise is streaking down the wing. No one is watching him.
Granted, the only people screaming “Keep an eye on Weise!” are Blues fans who also happen to be Tilburg Trappers fans, and there isn’t a whole lot of crossover in that Venn diagram. But still. Schroeder has managed to draw every St. Louis player on the ice towards him, and Weise is all alone.
So who’s in the wrong here? I’d say Jackman first. The simplest approach is for him to play this as a basic 2-on-2, ignoring Schroeder as he crosses into the middle and sticking with Weise. Instead, he drifts out of his lane to watch Schroeder’s magic.
That said, when the game’s best defensive centre is in position to hang with Dale Weise, you can understand why Jackman might assume Weise isn’t going to be a problem. Unfortunately, Backes assumes the opposite, slowing up and following Schroeder into the middle. It’s your classic cross-up.
But these guys are still in luck. It would take remarkable presence of mind for Schroeder to hit Weise, especially since he’s heading directly for Alex Steen, who’s about to steamroll him.
Except that Schroeder notices the massive passing lane his curl has opened up behind him:
Unsurprisingly, this pass gets through to Weise.
From there, Weise feasts like a fancy beast, going backhand on Jake Allen, putting the Canucks up 3-0, and making Jordan Schroeder very happy.Breakdowning, dale weise, Daniel Sedin has the ability to impart wizardry on others, Jordan Schroeder, Wizardous Sedinerie