The Wings have won three straight after a 4-3 win over the Devils on Thursday night. This was a special teams affair, as all four of the Wings’ goals were scored without the normal number of skaters on the ice - two PPGs and two shorthanded.
While the PPGs were pretty, I’d rather let Peter’s excellent power play writeup continue to focus on that and I’ll instead cover the shorty that should have counted as the game-winner.
The play starts with Niklas Kronwall in the box for grabbing Kyle Palmieri from behind to stop what would have been a breakaway just after a bad Darren Helm pass ended a 2-on-1 the other way with Anthony Mantha. Luke Glendening loses the defensive zone faceoff to Brian Boyle and the Devils start to get set up on the man advantage with Nico Hischier pushing it back to Will Butcher at the point while Taylor Hall fans out to the opposite wing. Butcher is pushed towards the middle by Abdelkader coming out to challenge and the familiar 1-3-1 setup takes shape.
Butcher feeds to Palmieri on the near-side half-wall to send Abdelkader off and give himself a bit more room for the return pass while both Abby and Trevor Daley challenge Palmieri. The Devils forward immediately goes back up top while Luke Glendening covers Hischier in the high slot. Glenny immediately disengages from Hischier to close the gap on Butcher while Abdelkader circles back to get to the middle and Daley turns to get back low and help out Nick Jensen, who at this point is one man who has to worry about covering three Devils players below all of his teammates.
The good news for the Red Wings is that Glendening’s angle on Butcher is very good and he has his stick exactly where it’s needed. As Butcher tries to make the pass that would catch the Wings’ PK in their aggression, he doesn’t elevate it over Glenny’s stick and instead sees it get knocked down and taken up ice by the Wings’ center.
The good news about almost getting caught with too many PPers beneath you is that on a turnover, it turns into not enough PPers in front of you and this is also known as an odd-man rush. Abdelkader recognizes that Glendening controls the puck off the Butcher turnover and is immediately on his horse with way more jump than either Hischier or Palmieri trying to get back on him. Butcher angles Glendening to make him go wide, turning at his own blue line to stay in the passing lane, but this turn sacrifices a decent amount of positioning and allows Glendening space closer to the middle than you’d like to see a defender give a player coming in on an odd-man
This space gives the right-shooting Glendening coming in on the left wing side an easy decision to shoot. The shot selection is low to the glove side trying to go below the glove but above the leg pad. Schneider gets enough of the shot to stop it, but not enough to control the rebound. Butcher can’t track Abdelkader at this point and the supporting forward is able to slam the rebound in the moment he arrives at the crease.
Credit Where Credit is Due
This one is basically all forwards. Nick Jensen is responsibly minding his own business hoping not to be the star of this highlight for the Devils after kinda being left out to dry by Trevor Daley, but it’s also hard to say that without Daley, Palmieri goes back to butcher at the point and opens the opportunity for the rest of the play to happen. There’s not really a more-appropriate place for Daley to go on this setup anyway - backing down gives Palmieri too much room to create that pass to Taylor Hall.
Both Glendening and Abdelkader are aggressive on the wedge +1 formation at attacking the puck and handing off the middle. The biggest part of this play is Glendening (who I’m writing positively about a lot in these posts lately). The angle and pace he gets back on Butcher prevents a pass/shot down the middle lane and his stick positioning takes away the option to Hall that would have resulted in a likely chance for the Devils. He controls the puck well and then the route he takes down ice to force Butcher to turn where he does and to give him space is good - his shot selection is an excellent choice given the circumstances of trying to shoot but also going with the shot most-likely to create a positive result if the goalie stops it.
Abdelkader wisely keeps his feet moving throughout this play and does a good job with the aggressive work in his own zone on the setup. The immediate reaction to the turnover and taking the right lane to push up ice and help make space along with keeping his stick on the ice is well-rewarded when he finds the rebound and jams it home.