Sunday, April 10, 2011

Was This Goal a Set Play?


Here's a basic principle for watching the Sedins: they never do anything by accident. Often times, the twins will pull off something so unthinkable that you'd be forgiven for deeming it a fluke. It never is. Rather, it's a set play from two eternal optimists--guys convinced everything they try will work. Usually it does.

With that in mind, take a look at Alex Burrows's goal from last night's season-ending matchup with the Calgary Flames. At first glance, it looks like an accident: Daniel Sedin comes out from behind the net and tries to go top corner with a shot. Instead, he misses wide and hits Alex Burrows in the gut. The puck falls in front of Burr and he taps it in. But that's not actually what you see. This was a set play, executed to perfection. Here are three items of argumentative proof:

1. Daniel Sedin's shot isn't that poor. Daniel proved at this year's All-Star Skills competition that he's one of the league's most accurate shooters. Furthermore, when he comes out from behind the net, he tends to put the puck exactly where he wants to.

Now, you'd be forgiven for assuming this is a shot, especially since it's four feet in the air, but watch the overhead angle at 0:37 of the clip: the puck goes straight across the crease. Either this is the worst miss of Daniel's career, or the puck goes where he wanted it to. On second glance, it looks like Daniel Sedin meant to put it exactly where it went--into Alex Burrows's glove.

2. The Sedins love that high pass. Each year, the twins return from the offseason with a new series of plays, and it appears they spent last summer focusing on how best to utilize all that undefended space above the ice. All season long, we've seen obscenely high saucer passes, such as on this powerplay goal versus the Stars.

We've also seen a new arsenal of full-blown football-style lob passes. This year, a common occurrence during Sedin shifts has been a high pass across one or more zones meant to be caught and dropped onto the stick of the receiver. We saw it in this goal versus the Oilers, where Alex Burrows shows he's a good student, lobbing a backhand pass over the defensive and neutral zones to spring Daniel and Henrik for a two-on-one at the offensive blue line.

We see another use of the high pass in the clip above, when Daniel gets the puck past two Calgary defenders by putting it four feet in the air.

3. There's a precedent for this play. This goal bears something of a resemblance to Marian Hossa's goal from last season, where he snags the puck out of mid-air then drops it and slaps it in, all in one fell swoop. Burrows does the same thing in this clip after Daniel's pass goes right into his glove.

Granted, Burr doesn't convert it with Hossa's fluidity, but what he lacks in grace, he makes up for in intention. Where Hossa is improvising, Burrows and Daniel are executing a planned play.

That's sort of impressive, no? Many people are talking about the Sedins' other goal on the night: a setup for Ryan Kesler that tied the game at two. That, too, was a beautiful passing play, but while you're marvelling over that one, be sure to give this one another look. It might have been prettier.

11 comments:

  1. Telepathy and Batman-like prep time.

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  2. My word,
    if they play in the playoffs
    like they played “in the turd,”
    'twill silence the coughs
    that must have been heard
    in the second and first,
    when they were the worst;
    it was so simply absurd
    even chicken hawk cursed.

    chicken chick

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  3. Also, it looks like Burrows says "nice pass" to Daniel as he skates in for the post-goal hugs-and-helmet-taps at 0:06 in the clip. I could be wrong of course; I'm only an average lip-reader.

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  4. I think you also see Burrows say "nice pass" to Daniel as they celebrate.

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  5. Haha, Skeeter! Great minds think alike... and apparently at the exact same time! Maybe you're my long-lost Sedin twin!

    "But I thought I was the only one!"

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  6. man those chicken people are annoying

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  7. I don't think the problem is that you're an average lip-reader, Daniel; it's that Burrows' enunciation (pronunciation?) is below average. Looks like "nice fass" to me.

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  8. it also could be Burrows saying "Not bad"
    when he talks, it looks like his mouth is full of rocks.
    also, further evidence to it being a set play, directly behind Burrows is Henrik, so if Burrows isn't there ie. is too slow or gets cut off, then the pass would go right to Henrik.

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  9. I think they should keep fire extinguishers behind the bench in case somebody internally combusted while playing a hard fought turd!

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  10. Sutter's face at 0:11!!

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