I made the conscious decision that I would write this about a good thing tonight regardless of the outcome of the game and the Wings helped me out by actually scoring a goal.
The play starts immediately after the end of a Red Wings’ power play as Yanni Gourde dumps the puck down ice and forces Dennis Cholowski to head back and grab it. Cholowski catches up to it inside the faceoff dot, turns with it, and immediately fires a pass up-ice to Darren Helm in stride to re-enter the Lightning zone supported by Glendening on the right wing side and Abdelkader on the left. The speed of this play forces Tampa’s defense back and Helm goes to Abby on the left before driving the net to force the defenders back even more.
Abelkader takes the pass while Glendening goes to the slot and Helm crashes the front, then quickly drops it back to Trevor Daley jumping into the play as the late man to take advantage of all the space created/given here. With Helm dragging Hedman and Glendening keeping Johnson at-bay, Daley dekes around Coburn coming out to challenge him in the slot before feeding it back across the ice from the right side.
The Daley pass goes off Abdelkader’s skate and sticks around the middle of the ice for a Luke Glendening backhand opportunity while Vasilevskiy flails around trying to regain composure after the pass. The first chance slides right into the fallen goalie, but is kicked right back to Glendening by all that aforementioned flailing. On the second opportunity, Glenny is able to pop it in.
Credit Where Credit Is Due
To start with, the retrieval by Dennis Cholowski followed by the turn and the pass is something I don’t think the Lightning were prepared for and it helps catch them in a change. He gets to it quicker than expected and the tape-to-tape from distance to hit a guy in full-stride is the main reason this play develops like it does:
Helm takes the puck smoothly, makes sure to cross the blue line, and then does exactly what he should do in utilizing his winger and then driving the front of the net to create space. Once there, he makes sure his defender is locked in on him without being able to escape while keeping good scoring position.
Justin Abdelkader has his head up the entire way and makes a really good pass to Trevor Daley (since the last two of these I’ve written have been about somebody else essentially failing to make this very pass, I want to make sure I mention that it’s really good). Following that, he times his jump down to stay essentially parallel with Daley and finds himself in the right position.
Glendening starts the play by making sure he’s dragging his defender to the right spot in order to make space for Daley to make the play and then keeps his stick on the ice, affording him the two opportunities he needs to put this one in. The stick on the ice thing can’t be overstated considering that’s been a problem for the Wings this season.
Daley is smart to recognize that this is exactly where he should be jumping, knowing that he’s beaten Kucherov up the ice off the Tampa bench and also recognizing that Cholowski being all the way back in his own zone gives plenty of leeway for him not having to be the last man back.
Overall, this is the kind of play the Wings have been getting burned on lately when they’ve screwed up and I’m just happy to see it go well for a change.