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Key Play Breakdown: Carolina’s Power Play Tic-Tac-Goal

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Carolina Hurricanes v Detroit Red Wings Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The Red Wings’ first winning streak of the season will have to wait a little while longer after they got clobbered by the Hurricanes on Monday (although the scoreboard didn’t really indicate the clobbering, those of us who watched it know what we saw). Here’s a microcosm of the game for you:

The Setup

Detroit is shorthanded and getting outshot 29-8 when this power play starts. Anthony Mantha is in the box for roughing after hog-tying his man in the Wings’ zone and getting his glove up high while holding him. The Canes win the faceoff, but Darren Helm gets a clear off a blocked shot from Aho that hits Trevor Daley.

Faulk and Justin Williams move up ice and regain the Wings’ zone against a very soft defensive setup by the Wings’ PK that collapses low while the Canes stop up at the half-wall to set up and move it high around the blue line to get their own setup going to take advantage of the over-collapsing defense. As the Wedge +1 defense gets set up, Faulk steps around Frans Nielsen finally coming back out to challenge him and feeds it to Williams for a shot attempt at the top oft he circle that’s blocked by Hicketts back to Williams. Helm steps in to challenge Williams, but the Hurricanes’ captain shields the puck and goes back to Faulk at the top of the zone and the death knell rings for this PK:

The Finish

Faulk crosses to Aho now that the momentum of the play has taken the wedge to the other side of the ice and this essentially turns the 5-on-4 into a 3-on-2 using half the ice. Aho carries down to the top of the circle to make himself more dangerous, allow his two low teammates to separate from their co-net-front habitation, and to freeze the defenders in place, trapping Trevor Daley into the center of a triangle that makes him choose one thing among three options.

Daley chooses stay between the shooter in a dangerous area while hoping your stick is long enough to also disrupt a passing lane and is proven wrong to hope when Aho passes it down to Zykov at the side of the net for a bump pass immediately to Micheal Ferland between the hash marks for a quick snap shot over Jimmy Howard’s glove and into the net.

The Blame Game

The fun thing here is we’ve got a mixture of a really good setup for the Canes and pretty bad execution for the Wings on how this goal has scored, so you can appropriately credit Carolina for using a play that works well against the specific PK the Wings are using while also finding enough blame for pretty much every skater on the Wings.

Nielsen and Helm don’t slow the zone entry down and are caught chasing the puck around the top of the zone while Carolina uses that space they can’t occupy to full stretch themselves when needed and then contract against the spaces the wedge can’t cover while it’s bouncing around chasing the puck. Nielsen is already pretty much in no-man’s land by the time Williams gets the puck back to Faulk and Helm having lost the positioning battle for Williams after the Hicketts shot block ties him up for too long to recover into the play.

Hicketts is covering a cross-crease pass to Williams that, had he stepped up to cover Ferland, would have made for a pretty easy goal on that end, but he likely should have at least tried to disrupt both that lane and the pass to Ferland. Instead he’s caught too low and the dead center of the dangerous scoring area is left undefended instead of the left edge of that high-danger area.

Daley probably should be standing closer to Zykov and allowing Aho space to snipe it past Howard from slightly farther away or a chance to gamble on getting closer and letting Nielsen catch up to him. Honestly, Daley’s inability to clear the zone on the power play in this game is worse than his positioning on this play, but the one guy that was most taken-advantage-of on this play certainly isn’t blameless for allowing it to happen.