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Key Play Breakdown: The Oilers wear down a passive Red Wings defense

NHL: Edmonton Oilers at Detroit Red Wings Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The winning streak had to end sometime and oh boy did it end in fashion against the Oilers on Saturday night. The Wings were thoroughly outhustled and outplayed by Edmonton at the LCA and we’ve got the goal that perhaps best highlights that: Alex Chiasson’s goal was the 2nd of the night for Edmonton:

The Setup

Detroit controls the period-opening faceoff but can’t get anything going on a dump-in by Daley that’s tipped into the Oilers’ zone and immediately taken back out and up ice by McDavid’s line. The Oilers also end up having to get a puck dumped in (off a deflected pass), but their pressure is better and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is able to take a relatively weak Dylan Larkin clearing attempt and keep it in. This is all in the first 20 seconds of the period and the goal happens 75 seconds in, so I’ll skip forward a bit - the next 20 seconds are the Wings trying to keep the Oilers contained in the corner and allowing one shot attempt (a wide shot by Klefbom from the point). McDavid is a one-man puck-retrieval unit and his good work pays off when Trevor Daley gets caught flat-footed by RNH and ends up lazily slashing at him, creating a delayed penalty that gets Koskinen off the ice for the extra skater.

Darren Helm is able to briefly disrupt the cycle and force McDavid to regroup at center, but he gets it back in quickly and the Oilers set up 6-on-5 quickly, this time running the play from Bernier’s left side.

The Finish

McDavid tries to saucer a pass to Nugent-Hopkins in the middle, but the puck is deflected by the stick of Luke Glendening and to the boards. Mantha hustles to try to get control, but RNH is closer and quickly backhands it to Larsson who feeds it back to McDavid at the top of the circle from where he just tried passing. McDavid in the high-danger area draws the already-stretching defense out and opens up a cross-ice lane to Chiasson all alone on the back door for the easy one-timer into the net.

The Blame Game

Trevor Daley has a pretty bad shift here trying to deal with Edmonton’s top line. The penalty by Daley to set this up is caused by what’s going on with him the entire shift; he’s at least a half-step behind for the entire play. He’s not well-positioned when RNH angles him and is forced to chop at his man to take the delayed call. On top of that, he had a chance to disrupt the Edmonton cycle and misses the puck with a swipe in which his body positioning is not good. Finally, he’s caught kind of drifting through no-man’s land when Chiasson finds himself open in Daley’s territory.

To Daley’s (partial) defense, he has to be drawn to the middle because Draisaitl is on the doorstep and is in danger of being left completely uncovered when DeKeyser has to come out to try and take an angle on McDavid with space to walk in at the circle (and Glendening not on time coming back from having tried putting pressure on Larsson following the RNH pass to him higher in the zone).

DeKeyser leaving Draisaitl and therefore leaving Daley to have to (slowly) make the decision on how to cover both the man in the middle and the cross-ice pass that eventually comes is a tough choice, but appropriate. In all honesty, watching DDK for this entire shift, he actually does a pretty good job of maintaining good positioning and in battling along the boards, but he just doesn’t do well enough. He’s also just a hair too slow, although I’ll say he’s much more let-down than he is the let-down on this sequence.

Dylan Larkin is the forward who lets DeKeyser down a couple times on this shift. He’s the one who gets the puck off DK’s race to the dumped-in puck and then fails to get it out of the zone, gets in too late to help the follow-on board battle after that turnover, later gets out-angled by Caggiula on a puck along the boards, allows McDavid back into the zone, and then finally leaves the lane from Larsson to McDavid open for the pass that begins the end of the sequence. Not a good shift for the future Wings’ captain.

Darren Helm starts the shift and his big mistake here is tipping the puck that ends up being the dump-in. I’d rather he had not touched it and let DK disrupt that pass instead, but it’s not that big a deal. Helm changes for Glendening, who positions himself well after the setup with the Wings already skating against a man advantage, but chasing too aggresively on Larsson opens up the defense for what becomes the royal road pass to finish the play.

Anthony Mantha is the last skater here and his shift is also one where he’s too far behind the play and ends up passively chasing. It starts when he has an opportunity to pressure Klefbom in the Oilers’ one and allows the puck out where had he been half a step earlier, he could have done it better. From there, the Edmonton cycle on the initial recovery is in Mantha’s side of the ice and, although the big guy is responsible for making sure he doesn't lose the point man (which he doesn’t), there’s a few times where he’s just kind of reaching with his stick in a situation that would call for a more-aggressive (and riskier) play that he passes up on.


For the most part, this entire unit of skaters played this entire shift reacting to the Oilers rather than trying to funnel them. It was basically a downward spiral of a bunch of guys all taking absolutely no risks and paying the price for it. From Daley sweeping at the puck to DeKeyser seemingly not wanting to risk a cross-checking penalty to Larkin and Mantha rigidly sticking to primary zones when they could have made a covered jump in coverage to disrupt the play better, this was just a passive shift and it cost Detroit a goal.