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Key Play Breakdown: The Helm-to-Glendening pipeline is slick

NHL: Detroit Red Wings at Edmonton Oilers Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

The Wings completed their Western Canada road trip by finally holding a lead (barely) and head into the All-Star break just above the basement. I’m ok with that, as I’d rather enter the break on a win. Plenty of time to lose ground in February.

The one that should have been the game-winner was Luke Glendening’s first of the night. Fortunately, he scored another and still gets to have credit for the GWG. Here’s Glenening’s backhander on a beauty feed.

The Setup

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins does a good job creating a chance for Zack Kassian by protecting the puck with his body in the slot, but Darren Helm gets his stick in on Kassian to deflect the shot wide of the net. McDavid picks it up in the corner after finishing a sweep around behind the net; from here he carries it up to the blue line watched by Andreas Athanasiou. AA recognizes when McDavid is at his most-vulnerable at the top of the zone and tries a poke-check that would have created a breakaway, but McDavid fights it off and makes a backhand pass to Petrovic closer to the boards.

Petrovic pulls it to his forehand and winds up for a big slapper, which gives Luke Glendening time to get into the lane and block the shot. The puck bounces off Glendening to the half-wall and he wins the race to it, chipping it over Petrovic’s stick and towards the blue line. Athanasiou is closest and just has to stop his momentum from flying the zone to make sure the puck gets out while RNH races Helm to the loose puck. On its way, AA nudges the puck and makes sure he steps into #93’s path to give Helm a clear shot at the puck and what is now a 1-on-1 rush against Kris Russell giving up a lot of space in the neutral zone.

The Finish

Using the space gifted by Russell (given because AA’s threat to fly the zone seconds earlier), Helm takes the puck into the Oilers’ zone and sets up at the right point while his linemates join the rush with numbers. Glendening is first in to help on the left wing side while AA trails slightly down the middle. Nugent-Hopkins is the second Oilers player back, but he decides to help pinch on Helm before realizing that Petrovic isn’t going to come close to getting back on time and he himself isn’t close enough to Helm to prevent him from making a play.

You can see in the screengrab that RNH already realizes this, but by now it’s too late and it’s just on to watching him corkscrew himself hoping that this mistake doesn’t cost him.

It does...


Credit Where Credit is Due

I’ll be the first to admit that Mikko Koskinen should not have allowed this goal, but I want to appreciate that this play was finished by two defensive forwards finishing a rush that started because of good defensive plays by both of them. Helm’s positioning on Kassian and Glendening’s shot block were crucial here and let to good things down ice.

I also like Athanasiou’s play here first initially jumping the zone on the anticipation of Glendening winning the race after the shot block and then immediately recognizing the neet to get back and the right play to make to let Helm carry up ice instead of trying to take it all on himself (like he sometimes has the habit of doing).

Nick Jensen and Jonathan Ericsson have nothing to do with this play other than not screwing something up so badly Edmonton scores. Kind of rare when a play happens like this and neither defenseman does something to contribute, but fun nonetheless.