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Key Play Breakdown: Turnovers are Bad

NHL: Detroit Red Wings at Buffalo Sabres Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

The Wings winning streak out of the break has turned into a two-game losing streak after Detroit got to beat up on three Canadian cupcake teams and found themselves finally having to face American juggernauts again (it’s sarcasm, calm down)

Of the four goals in Detroit’s 3-1 loss, only one was a even strength. It was this one:

I enjoy that the caption on the video calls this a “great individual effort” because that’s a very charitable way to put it.

The Setup

Early in the 2nd period, Dylan Larkin wins an icing faceoff, but good Buffalo pressure forces Mike Green to just make a safe play up the boards for Gustav Nyquist to tip the puck to center where Buffalo retrieves. Detroit sets up their turn to forecheck as Larkin forces Ristolainen to dump around the boards to Sam Reinhart at the far wall. Niklas Kronwall steps up to prevent transition while Justin Abdelkader gets back to cover for the pinch aided by Gustav Nyquist and ultimately last-man-backstopped by Green.

The Kronwall pinch works and Reinhart has to just dump it to center directly to where Abdelkader is skating.

All is well in the world of preventing-transition-hockey for both teams so far.

The Finish

As Abdelkader gets to the puck, he immediately pushes it off the boards on his backhand and straight to Connor Sheary as the lone Sabres player to have been flying the zone when Reinhart got the puck. Mike Green is in front of Sheary, but has to give him the space to enter the zone.

Sheary takes this space and makes a little more for himself with a cut, getting to the middle before releasing a wrister from the danger zone just past Green’s boot that beats Howard high on the blocker side.

The Blame Game

This turnover by Justin Abdelkader is so awful I could just leave it at that. He’s probably trying to make transition happen quickly with a pass to Green, but completely forgetting Connor Sheary exists here is so baffling I have to entertain there are other possibilities about what he’s thinking

  1. He thinks he’s passing to Nyquist wearing a dark jersey
  2. He’s secretly the commander of #TeamTank

This is the kind of goof that would have gotten a kid last season benched for an extended period. To be fair, the only forwards who got less TOI in this game than Abdelkader were de la Rose, Ehn, and Rasmussen, so he did appear to have shifts taken away from him.

In terms of the other players on the ice, Kronwall and Larkin are really the only two truly blameless players. Nyquist was kind of cheating waiting for the opportunity to turn the other way and probably should have recognized that doing this while Abdelkader was being angled by Sheary was creating what could have been a 2-on-1. Green misses the proper gap on Sheary, despite the challenge of where the turnover happens too. Also, I won’t fault Jimmy Howard for not stopping a well-disguised shot from a high-danger area, but I always want to see him stop them so I’m not giving him a break on this one either.