Well, I meant to get this article out last week, but obviously that didn’t happen, so here it is today! I thought about scrapping it, but I think it’s still interesting enough to put up. During Game 3, there was a really bizarre goal scored on Nashville by Pavel Datsyuk. Friends of mine were discussing it, and they couldn’t decide who was more at fault for it, Pekka Rinne or Roman Josi, so I decided to look at it a little bit more carefully.
Red Wings Goal: Pavel Datsyuk (1) on Pekka Rinne.
I really like Roman Josi. I hadn’t a clue who he was six months ago, but he’s now arguably my favorite defenseman on the team – yes, over either Shea Weber or Ryan Suter – and it’s because he has proven himself to be both defensively dependable and offensively threatening. He plays the same style of hockey that I always tried to play, so I appreciate how difficult of a style it can be (though he’s obviously a hell of a lot more talented than I ever will be). Roman is going to be an all-star defenseman one day (you saw it here first!), and the moment he signs a true, long-term contract with Nashville, I’m getting his name and number on my jersey. However… he is still a rookie, so regardless of how talented he is, rookie mistakes are an inevitable part of his game. This play, unfortunately, was one of them.
First of all, this goal occurs during 4-on-4 play. This is important to mention, because there will be one less Predator forward available to position himself as an outlet for his teammates. I’ll mention this again in a few pictures. You should never lose any puck battles ever, but losing puck battles during 4-on-4 is especially dangerous because there are fewer players on the ice, and therefore each one has more time and space to move around without getting pressured (I also talked about this in my previous article). More time and space means more opportunities to score goals. It’s no good.
Back to the picture. This screen cap was taken immediately after the defensive zone faceoff. Mike Fisher wins the puck back to Kevin Klein, and Klein (who had a phenomenal series, by the way) takes the puck behind the net. He’s being covered by Danny Cleary. Cleary knows better than to chase him around the net because he won’t catch him; instead, he cuts through the crease to head Klein off. This means that Klein is going to have to do something with the puck pretty soon, unless he wants to try and barrel by Cleary (…no). With that in mind, Roman Josi and Sergei Kostitsyn will both be very nicely positioned to receive a pass from Klein. The path to Sergei is eventually cut off because of Cleary’s positioning (between the two), so Roman will end up getting the pass. Klein and Roman both know what Cleary is doing and what’s about to happen, so they are anticipating this puck exchange.
Cleary cuts off the passing lane to Sergei, so Klein smacks the puck back over Roman. He has no immediate pressure, but he will soon (see: Datsyuk, Pavel). First of all, let’s talk about Pekka Rinne. His position is weird. Why is he standing up like that and looking behind the net? I feel like I’ve never (or very rarely) seen him (or anyone) do that. It also seems like his guard is down. I’m pretty damn sure that he should be crouched in typical goalie position and prepared for… well… anything. Because crazy things happen around the net. Second, let’s talk about Pavel Datsyuk. You might be wondering why he’s so alone and uncovered – especially with the amount of danger he poses on the ice. This is a problem with 4-on-4. In 5-on-5, there would be five Predators in the zone, and three active Red Wings, with two defensemen on the blue line. Every Predator would cover a Wing man-on-man, but there would still be at least one Predator who was “relatively” free. That’s the guy who helps start the rush up ice (generally a center). In 4-on-4, however, you don’t have the luxury of the “relatively” free guy. There are only two Pred forwards on the ice, so if one of them starts to rush up ice, the other one needs to be there; if he isn’t, the play just becomes a 1-on-2 and is pretty useless. All of that being said, Mike Fisher saw Kevin Klein get the puck and go behind the net, so he anticipated (1) a pass to Sergei, and (2) a subsequent breakout. He chose the likelihood of an offensive rush over covering his man. Some people might not like this, and would prefer for guys to play a very strict man-on-man system, but you have to be able to break the puck out somehow… this is something I say a lot, but players have to trust their teammates to get the job done, and Fish was trusting his defensemen not to screw anything up.
When Roman was about to get the puck, he knew that he would need to move it quickly because of Datsyuk; now Roman has control of the puck and Datsyuk is all over him. The question is where to go with the puck… Klein is covered by Cleary. Sergei is on the far side of the ice. Fish just realized they aren’t breaking up the right side, and is currently curling back down. So Josi has two options: (1) pass it back to Klein and hope he can get it up to Sergei, or (2) chuck it behind him and up the boards, and hope Fish will be there to get it. Klein is waiting as a tentative outlet because he knows he is the only person available to pass the puck to right now. Fish and Sergei need to hustle back (and they are – or at least Fish is). Meanwhile, back at the net, Pekka Rinne is still kinda chillin’. His posture and positioning don’t exactly demonstrate that he knows the puck is five feet away from him, and two inches away from one of the most dangerous players in the NHL. Again, I feel like he needs to be eying the puck and the play much more aggressively than he is doing right now. It bothers and worries me that he isn’t doing so.
Oh, Roman. Pocket? Picked. After many watches, I’m still not certain of what he was trying to do with the puck. I think he was either (1) trying to move his stick to the other side of the puck so he could chip it backwards behind both him and Pavel when Pavel stole it, or (2) trying to continue behind the net, lost control, and was trying to move his stick behind the puck to regain possession when Pavel stole it. I think it’s the later (it pains me to say). So Roman tries to carry it behind the net, Pavel pops his stick in the air, and he steals the puck out from under it. Mike Fisher comes zooming into the picture, returning to give his defensemen some puck support. He positioning is great, because if the puck rebounds out from Datsyuk’s shot (and it should), he’ll be there to take it away.
But there is no rebound. Why, you ask? Because he hypotenuse is the longest side of a right triangle.
Just when you thought you would never have to deal with the Pythagorean Theorem and triangles again, here I am to ruin the day! Pekka Rinne is standing completely upright at the far post. He has to go from (1) standing to crouching, and then (2) far right to far left, to save this puck. That means he is going to be traveling along the above-labeled hypotenuse (more or less). Hockey nets are 4 feet high and 6 feet wide*, so following [a² + b² = c²], the distance that Rinne will have to travel to get to the far post is the square root of [4² + 6²], or 7.2 feet. That’s a full foot longer than the width of the net itself…
*I didn’t use Pekka’s height because he does not need to travel the full distance from his head to skate; he just needs to get his lower half to the ice, and that distance is about hip to skate “high” (which is conveniently about as tall as the net!).
…and the distance between Rinne’s left toe and the left post looks about a foot long, to me.
Now obviously you can’t blame this on just Roman or just Pekka, but there’s plenty of blame to spread around, so let’s spread it!
Charges: Roman Josi loses the puck to Pavel Datsyuk.
Verdict: This is a maaaajor no-no. You don’t hand Pavel Datsyuk the puck. Ever. I know it was an accident, and I know accidents happen, but this is one accident that just cannot happen. Sorry, Roman. It just can’t. You get some leniency because turning the puck over next to the net is a classic rookie-defenseman error, but don’t do this again. You hear me?
Punishment: Eating apple turnovers until he is so sick of turnovers, he swears he will never want to have one again.
Charges: Pekka Rinne doesn’t know what’s going on and allows a goal.
Verdict: We are spoiled daily by watching your spectacularly magical play, so sometimes it can be hard to decide whether your mistakes are actually really bad plays, or if they’re just average mistakes that average goaltenders make (but that we’re not used to). This play, however, is just downright bad. For any goalie. Know where the puck is.
Punishment: Wearing a hat with a puck hanging from the brim at eye-level for 48 hours, so that he will never forget to watch the puck again.