First of all, apologies for not having been so timely with these analyses… I was out of town last week and all this weekend before getting sick all yesterday and today, so I’m still trying to catch up. Watching the Predators beat Detroit last night certainly made me feel better! I’m trying to think about how best to build up the excitement here for the second goal on the list today. I think nothing will work as well as this: “We’re gonna see four Red Wings look really, really stupid.” Good enough? Excellent! Here we goooooo…
Detroit PPG: Jiri Hudler (1) on Pekka Rinne, assisted by Niklas Kronwall (2) and Kyle Quincy (2).
This was Detroit’s only goal, and I am going to give them full credit for it… it’s a great goal. It’s one of those that no one is going to stop – not even Pekka Rinne. Let’s do it so we can get to the hilarity faster.
Here, we can see a great PP set-up by the Wings, and a great PK set-up by the Preds. The Preds are playing the box, and Spaling is currently the box’s flexible man. The concept of the box, for anyone unfamiliar with setting up a penalty kill, is that you force all the opposing players around the outside of the slot. A centerman (see: Flip) might wander his way inside the box, but if you play the box correctly, everyone will collapse on him if he gets the puck, and you can regain control and clear the zone. The flexible man (see: Spals) is the corner of the box that pressures the puck carrier; the flexible man could be down near the net, in the corner on the boards, or up by the blueline, but typically one penalty killer challenges the puck carrier by stretching the sides box before snapping back into place. The Wings are spread out across the ice with two defensemen high, a center trolling the box, Hudler chatting with Rinne, and Zetterberg on the far left boards (out of view). They have a lot of room to shoot the puck, and the Predators are relatively okay with this; they know if Rinne can see it, he will stop it. Quincy has just passed Kronwall the puck, and they are about to have a little exchange.
See where Spals is? This is a great example of the flexible man. Nick Spaling was an absolute beast last night, so I’m glad I have the chance to applaud some of his good work. He pressures Kronwall, who sends the puck back over the Quincy. When the puck gets over there, it will be Goose’s turn to be the flexible man and pressure Quincy. Something interesting will happen, though…
It’s hard to capture it in a picture, but Quincy fakes a shot. Goose, not wanting to be too close to what he thinks is going to be a slapshot aimed in his general direction, backs off a bit (initially). I do not blame him. Once he realizes Quincy isn’t actually going to shoot the puck, he scoots up the ice a bit, but at that point it’s too late.
Quincy passes the puck to Kronwall, who slaps it in on goal. Generally Rinne would be all over this, but this time, he has Jiri Hudler planted in front of him. Weber and Suter are in an awkward position, because they each have a Wing on either side of them (Zetterberg to Weber’s right and Hudler to his left; Hudler to Suter’s right and Flip to his left), and abandoning any of them would be dangerous. Suter was initially guarding Hudler, but floated away to cover Flip at the beginning of the play (which I think is okay, because Flip was pretty alone and waiting for a pass). So perhaps he should have returned to his charge a bit more diligently? Because Flip certainly isn’t a huge threat anymore… not compared to the lone guy standing in front of the net. I want to assume that Weber and Suter communicated about the lone-Hudler, and decided who was going to cover him, but I don’t know if that’s true. Either way, he ends up being alone and is able to tip Kronwall’s shot directly into the goal. I want to partly blame Suter for this, but at the same time, I honestly think this is just one of those goals that no one can do much about. It’s a great shot by Kronwall, and a phenomenal tip by Hudler. Enjoy it, boys, because you get no more this game!
Nashville LOLG: Kevin Klein (2) on Jimmy Howard, assisted by Martin Erat (2) and Mike Fisher (2).
If you have not already seen this goal, then prepare to be absolutely and utterly astonished. I’m not quite sure what else to tell you to prepare for this… it’s quite literally one of the funniest things I have seen since I stumbled across this ridiculous line change (yes, that is worth reading… I’ll sit here and wait for you to finish it….). I’m honestly not sure which goal is worse. The “Are You Serious” face was the only thing I could think of that truly sums up my complete lack of understanding about what the hell every single Detroit Red Wing on the ice during this shift was doing. Alright, let’s do this.
This is a pretty normal rush. Martin Erat is carrying the puck up the ice. The Wings have two defensemen (Lidstrom and White), and their backchecking forward (Hudler), and each one of them has a Predator to cover, right? This is what we have learned – that everyone picks someone and sticks to them until the play is over? Okay, so hypothetically, Ian White will have Patrik Hornquist, Nick Lidstrom will have Marty Erat, and Jiri Hudler will have Kevin Klein. This is very basic, but it works. Pick someone.
Here’s where things start to get interesting. Hudler has over skated Klein (his initial man), and is coming up on Marty Erat. That’s okay. Not great, but not terrible. Another backchecker will hopefully cover Klein (this is where you have to trust your teammates), and that way Hudler can go help Lidstrom, who is also covering Marty. Then Ian White decides he’s lonely and wants in on the party. Look at him. He’s like a child with a piece of candy dangling in front of him. Dude is all over what Marty is bringing into the zone, and for no apparent reason whatsoever. His charge, Patrik Hornquist will be abandoned. This seems like a GREAT idea.
I don’t normally label goalies, but I’m labeling Howard because damn did he screw up on this. You want to talk about over-committing on a play… yikes. He is way out at the top of his crease, and angled towards Martin Erat’s path of travel. Meanwhile, Hudler and Lidstrom also are both covering Marty, which is okay. Notice that Hudler has his stick on Marty and is really close to the puck. He cannot let Erat get away if he wants to win this battle and regain possession. I’ll let you guess what’s about to happen. Meanwhile, you would hope (if you were a Wings fan) that another backchecking forward would be showing up soon to cover Klein. You can keep waiting, but it won’t happen. Sorry to spoil the ending. Just next-door, Ian White has ALSO fervently committed to watching Martin Erat. For God knows what reason. Honestly. Why?! Klein and Horny are just coasting into the zone, completely ignored by the Wings. White should be keeping an eye on at least one of them.
Aaaand Hudler doesn’t win the puck from Erat, there are four Red Wings within about 10 feet of each other, Jimmy Howard is totally committed to the shot at this point, and Klein and Horny are still being ignored. Both are prepared to take a shot on net, though – especially Horny.
Somehow, Jimmy Howard ends up at the goal line WAAAAY outside of his crease. White is on the completely wrong side of the ice. Hudler and Lidstrom have at least stuck with their man. Valtteri Fippula (AKA “Eyebrows”) has finally made his way into the zone as a backchecker, but is far too late. Martin Erat passed the puck, through a crowd of three bodies, to Kevin Klein. My favorite part about this goal is that Klein waits long enough for Howard to see him standing there all alone, realize his mistake, and attempt to save his own ass before Klein flings the puck into an empty net. Solid trolling, Kevin. Nicely done. A few people are in trouble here, but I think most of the blame goes to Ian White for being a complete idiot and TOTALLY ABANDONING HIS SIDE OF THE ICE. There is zero reason for him to go follow Erat. Zero! What were you doing??? Howard also takes some of the blame, because he should never be caught on the goal line in this situation. Never. I would feel sorry for the Wings, because this is absolutely pathetic, but I don’t. Oh well!
Lesson for Game 6: Martin Erat has magical attracting abilities when he’s controlling the puck, and therefore we should give him the puck at all times so that goals like this will happen more often. Bring home the win in Nashville, boys – Go Predators!