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Key Play Breakdown: Caps take advantage of Wings separating the men from the Boyds

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NHL: Detroit Red Wings at Washington Capitals Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Red Wings got pasted by the Caps on Tuesday night by a 6-2 score and I almost chose the Dylan Larkin goal as the key play breakdown just because. That wouldn’t have been fair though. The far more-indicative play for how this game turned out was a goal you could say was actually key. Washington’s 2nd kind of set the tone for a Wings team that spent a lot of time chasing the puck and losing coverage in dangerous areas. Here’s Travis Boyd’s 2nd career goal:

The Setup

The play starts in the Washington end with Thomas Vanek trying to dangle three Washington defenders while the Red Wings change. Vanek cant pull it off and instead turns the puck over cleanly to Boyd coming in with a sweep check and on a good angle. Frans Nielsen is there to keep Boyd from getting cleanly up ice, but he’s able to flip it high out of the zone to the opposite wing side to create a footrace for Dmitrij Jaskin to negate an icing with Mike Green. Jaskin does indeed win this race as he recovers the puck in the corner behind Bernier’s right shoulder.

The Finish

Jaskin wins the race cleanly enough that he’s able to make a move to elude Green and give himself some room to turn and face back up the ice to explore his options from there. The Caps’ forward finds Nic Dowd trailing in to support down low and he hits him with a pass at the bottom of the circle with space to face Bernier.

The Wings’ netminder holds his post while Frans Nielsen spins to address Dowd right as the pass comes across to Boyd following up with a rush to the far post. Bernier has no chance to get across before Boyd finishes it off.

The Blame Game

Andreas Athanasiou - The least-blameworthy here, he’s playing net-front when Vanek turns it over and is responsible for picking up Orlov behind the play as it moves up ice. He doesn’t do that part effectively, but Orlov doesn’t factor in here so I don’t care.

Jonathan Bernier - He’s playing the shooter the way he should be. Goalies need to be able to rely on their teammates preventing royal road passes like this one and Bernier gets let down.

Frans Nielsen - His pressure on Boyd in the offensive zone is appropriate and he’s caught having to make a really hard play to prevent the pass from Dowd across the ice, which he fails to do. His positioning is appropriate, but he doesn’t execute his responsibility.

Dennis Cholowski - Last night’s key play breakdown hero becomes the first of the truly blameworthy players on this sequence. Cholowsi reads that Green has lost Jaskin and jumps in to help, but doesn’t block the lane for Jaskin to pass to Dowd ad in the process leaves the net-front and far post completely uncovered. He should have backed off and focused on taking out the far post to let Nielsen pick up Dowd instead.

Mike Green - The lost footrace and bad positioning on Jaskin starts from the outset of his shift as Green makes a bad gamble on Thomas Vanek being able to beat three defenders in the offensive zone. He gambles on the beginning of a pinch where he shouldn’t and is never able to recover good positioning.

Thomas Vanek - Not only did he lose the puck on a fancy dangle while his team was trying to change, but he also dogged it on the backcheck and left Boyd to get wide open on the back door. The goal-scorer on this play was Vanek’s responsibility to pick up from the neutral zone and he failed to do so.