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Key Play Breakdown: Kempny’s Game-Winner Cashes in on Offensive Zone Turnover/Weak Backcheck by Red Wings

Detroit Red Wings v Washington Capitals Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images

Detroit lost in Washington on Friday afternoon after building their traditional two-goal deficit and then simply not climbing out of it. Washington had a ton of chances, but the Red Wings didn’t play so poorly that this loss is crushing or anything. Hard to say it’s not deserved, but I’m not all that worried.

Here’s the game-winner, which we’ll be taking a closer look at.

The Setup

The Wings get the puck on the forecheck after Nielsen loses a faceoff in the offensive end but Jensen jumps up to force a puck along the boards that Gustav Nyquist picks up. Nyquist tries quickly throwing the puck to the middle and has it go off Kempny’s stick and straight to Travis Boyd, who gloves it down and outlets it to Devante Smith-Pelly. Burakovsky joins Dowd against DeKeyser and the two get into the zone due to the speed they build. Jensen gets back in time from pinching, but the Wings have had to collapse vey quickly just to prevent an odd-man chance.

Burakovsky takes it to the corner and passes back to Boyd as DeKeyser closes on him. Jensen covers Smith-Pelly at the net front while Neilsen takes up the dot in the middle and Nyquist covers Boyd coming in on the strong side late. Athanasiou is the last man back in the play and is covering near John Carlson as the very last Caps player back.

The Finish

Burakovsky curls and goes back to Boyd, who collects the puck and then turns and makes the same pass Nyquist had tried earlier, only this one connects to Kempny at the top of the opposite side faceoff circle. With nobody near him, Kempny has time to wind up for a slapper while Nick Jensen is frozen into hoping that he can block the shot without also helping Smith-Pelly screen his goalie.

Jensen doesn’t accomplish this, and Bernier never sees the slapper off Kempny’s stick. This turns out to be the game-winner.

The Blame Game

Jonathan Bernier - Screened on the goal. Maybe a bit deep in his crease and down on the shot early, but he’s more let down by his team than he’s the let-down here.

Danny DeKeyser - Last man back defending against what could have become an odd-man rush, he chases his player off to the boards while his partner gets back and plays this sequence appropriately. Not a great game overall for DK, but on this goal, there’s not a lot of fault for him.

Andreas Athanasiou - The FSD broadcast later telestrates this play with Darren Eliot showcasing him being on the wrong side of the ice for the coverage, as seen here:

While they’re technically correct that AA coming back up the middle leaves him in a better position to challenge Kempny, the responsibility for preventing the pass from Nic Dowd to Kempny lies on the other two forwards and to be perfectly honest, Frans Nielsen should be closer to the middle. AA’s primary job IS to cover the last-man back and that’s Carlson. He should also be in position to be able to move over and cover Kempny, but the FSD analysis places more blame on AA than I feel is warranted.

Nick Jensen - Jensen’s offensive zone pinch is fine and his hustle to get back is good. He is covering where he should when the pass gets to Kempny, but at the point of the shot coming, a defenseman absolutely either has to block it or he has to make sure the goalie can see the shot. Jensen fails at the most-crucial point.

Frans Nielsen - I feel I covered what he did wrong in his own zone above, but it’s also worth noting that he was the one covering for Jensen and was jumping into the play when the turnover happened, so the Caps getting a controlled zone entry is because there’s room made through center due to Neilsen essentially being caught pinching.

Gustav Nyquist - Where Dowd succeeds in making a cross-ice pass from the half-wall, Nyquist fails, and that sets up the whole play. He honestly should be trying to hit Nielsen jumping in with a shorter pass and either way, he needs to succeed in getting the puck past the stick of Kempny. Then allowing Dowd’s pass to cross the ice to Kempny in Detroit’s end completes the failure of Nyquist on this play.