The Red Wings lost their last pre-Christmas game in Toronto on Sunday night after blowing two leads, but they spent a lot of time taking the play to the Leafs and I’m not really mad about the loss thanks to a mixture of Christmas spirit and another rare appearance of sustained Red Wings’ pressure.
One such appearance led to a goal even. Here’s the end of the play.
To do this play justice, I could try describing everything leading up to it, but as you’ll see in the first of the following series of gifs, this sequence starts more than a full minute prior to the goal being scored. It can take me about 400 words to describe 15 seconds of action so just watch and I’ll touch on the highlights:
The play starts out with Jake Gardiner resetting behind his own net after an Abdelkader dump-in that allows both teams to change. Luke Glendening knocks the Gardiner outlet pass attempt out of midair and we’re underway.
Next we have Jensen making a good aggressive pinch in the corner to keep the Leafs from getting the clear, setting up de la Rose for a chance, and then ranging completely around the zone for a SECOND pinch down the boards to make another play which helps the Wings maintain pressure/possession
In .gif #3, we see Glendening, JDLR, and Jensen using the boards to move the puck quickly in order to keep the Leafs’ defense from cutting off the puck. They’re looking for space to get to the middle, but can’t make it quite yet.
At this point, we’re more than 40 seconds into the sustained zone pressure and again, Nick Jensen is deep in the Toronto zone. This time a feed out to Ericsson leads to a shot attempt that fails due to Riggy’s broken stick.
Fortunately, a Red Wings player is there to retrieve it (you’ll never guess who!)
Finally, we see the culmination of all the work, as Rasmussen is cross-checked but manages to get it back to Jensen, who delays while Larkin comes on as the extra skater. Jensen feeds Larkin, who fires a one-timer from the point
Rasmussen has gotten up from being knocked over at the boards and is in position in front of Sparks to tip the Larkin shot in
Credit Where Credit is Due
Nick Jensen with his secondary assist is the star of this play and is all over the damn place during the sequence making sure the Leafs’ defense can’t get comfortable and helping set the Wings up to take advantage. This is a great shift by #3.
The unsung heroes of Nick Jensen’s wanderlust on this sequence are de la Rose and Rasmussen, who do a good job covering for him each time he pinches. JDLR picks up the first pinch while Rasmussen wisely covers the next two. Each time Jensen pinches, the Wings are in position to get back if they lose possession and this frees them up to keep the defenders on their heels.
I also want to give a shout-out to Luke Glendening getting this play started by knocking down the Gardiner pass and taking an active role in the cycling that kep the play alive. He wasn’t even on the ice by the time the goal was scored, but just transpose Nyquist’s number on the change and give Glendening the honorary plus for his work in creating this goal.