Video Breakdown: Brendan Smith's bad pinch creates 3-0 deficit for Red Wings vs. Panthers
Improperly timed pinching has been a huge issue for the Detroit Red Wings in the early part of the 2016-2017 season. In the offseason, head coach Jeff Blashill stated that he wanted his team to play faster and for his defense to be more active. The problem has been that the Wings defensemen have not activated appropriately, causing numerous neutral zone breakdowns. An example of this happened on the Florida Panthers 3rd goal. Let's take a look:
In this image, the Panthers' defenseman has recovered the puck and is preparing to send it around the net to the starred player on the near side. The Wings have 2 forecheckers below the faceoff dots. Riley Sheahan (1) is tasked with trying to prevent the pass around to the near side while Darren Helm (2) is available to check the play depending on where the puck goes. The 3rd man, Andreas Athanasiou, is not pictured as he's still joining the play but he ultimately becomes the key guy here.
Sheahan (1) failed to block the pass and Helm has also gotten trapped below the faceoff dots. The puck has reached the near-side player and at this point in time you can see that neither Athanasiou nor Helm is in position to cover up for Smith if he were to pinch. As such, Smith should back off and focus on the Panthers player who is about to break out of the zone (blue arrow).
Well Smith, elects to pinch and as such, Athanasiou has to book it in order to try and shut down the 2-on-1. As fast as Athanasiou is, he can't catch the Panthers' player who is able to put the puck in the net on the one-timer.
Overall, the Wings have to get smarter about pinches, otherwise they will continue to give up odd-man chances. Over-aggression on the part of both forwards and defensemen has allowed for easy zone exits and numerous odd-man chances for the opposition.