Saturday, 31 May 2014

Love Hockey? Yes, You Do

Wow. That game last night? WOW. I'm not sure if there is a better demonstration of hockey seen in these playoffs or this season than the last few games between the Los Angeles Kings and Chicago Blackhawks. If you love hockey, you're eating this series up. If you don't know much about hockey, this series is showing you everything you need to know and love about the game. If you don't like hockey, you may find yourself enjoying this series simply due to the drama and skill seen in this series.

The Blackhawks trailed 3-2 in Game Six, but rallied once again to defeat the Kings by a 4-3 score despite a furious push at the end of the game by the Kings. Patrick Kane was the superstar we know him to be, Corey Crawford battled just enough to edge Jonathan Quick once more, and the Blackhawks forced a Game Seven in Chicago with their win tonight. Again, this has been a fantastic series, and we'll go the distance for everyone to enjoy.

However, I want to point out two key defensive lapses that resulted in Jonathan Quick fishing the puck out his net. While I'm against blaming one player, both of these Chicago goals could have been prevented if a couple of Kings players had kept white jerseys in front of them. Let's go to the video.
The Duncan Keith goal was made possible by the pinch by Keith to get into some open ice and a great feed by Patrick Kane to find Keith. However, all Trevor Lewis, #22 of the Kings, had to do was keep Duncan Keith in front of him and this goal would never have come on this play. Lewis completely lost his check on Keith, and Keith ended up putting the puck past Quick to tie the game at 3-3. Even Lewis' attempt to stick-check Keith was sloppy and poorly-executed. This might have been one of the worst defensive miscues we've seen in this series.

Notably, it's not the kind of defensive play you want to see from a guy who is categorized as a defensive forward. I wonder if that will affect Lewis' ice-time in key situations in Game Seven. We shall see.

The goal by Patrick Kane was simply a great shot. If you watch closely, though, Marian Gaborik plays Kane soft at the top of the circles, allowing him to gain a little space to get a shot off. Gaborik should have been leaning on Kane at least as he made his way into the middle of the ice, but he decides to shy away from Kane.

Why would a forward of Gaborik's speed and skill fade away from the last man back when a poke-check could easily lead to a breakaway or odd-man rush the other way? You have to play tough on a player like Kane because, as seen, a little room can be extremely dangerous. Gaborik has to be willing to play defence if he wants to generate a little offence.

Game Seven goes tomorrow night, and it's set to be a beauty. Will we see this again?

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

No comments: