Thursday, December 23, 2010

Recapping: Vancouver Canucks @ Columbus Blue Jackets

Tonight was an interesting night for hockey..  With Christmas on the horizon, it seemed that a Christmas miracle was both expected and wished for during the pre-game.  I was surprisingly optimistic, although personally, I have been riding the opinion that the defense is more to blame for the goals being scored than the goaltenders.

Up until this evening, the Jackets defense had been playing substantially better with Garon in front of them.  They did not allow too many uncontested shots from the slot, and generally they don't stand around in front of the net with their backs turned to oncoming opposition.  That was all thrown into the trash this evening, as the defense left Garon with a hook in his mouth, and his pants down on easily four of the six goals he allowed.

Per the the previous assessment, I'll go ahead and break down the goals scored, and see who exactly was to blame for them;

Goal 1: Garon makes initial save, and puck is played behind the net.  All six Jackets on the ice stare at the puck, and stop moving.  Puck is played to the front and banged home uncontested.
Goal 2: All five Blue Jackets players are below the hash marks.  Solid play made to the point man, who walks in and takes an uncontested shot.  Garon probably wanted this one back
Goal 3: Bad attempt to clear leads to a broken point shot, which is tipped by a player who freely stands alone in the slot.  Hard to blame goalies for tips.
Goal 4: Center plays too low, allowing room for the pass across.  Hejda covers no one, allowing for the pass back across to the winger for the easy bang in.
Goal 5: Weak effort by Tyutin to get the puck deep.  Nash falls coming back, Garon overcommits to the shot.  Easy one-timer.
Goal 6: This goal is in my opinion one of the worst goals in the game for a defense to give up.  The pass goes into the slot from behind the net, and the only person to come near it is an opposing player.  This is the epitome of a defensive breakdown.

These are the kinds of goals that have been scored on Mason all year.  It was only a matter of time before Garon got the same treatment.  It was almost comical to watch Mase come in, and get great protection for the remainder of the game, short of a decent tip (that he didn't seem all too interested in making a play on).  I never intended to be biased towards Mason, and while it may have come across that way, I think this post is a fairly good indicator that my main goal here is to tear apart the defense.

I went ahead and put together a screen shot of exactly how bad the Jackets are when the puck is behind their net.  Good players have their heads on a swivel, watching both the puck, and the other players coming in around them.  A question to leave you with.... How many of these guys appear to have their heads on swivels, and how many are simply admiring the puck?

In my opinion, this is why our goalies struggle with confidence.  They can't look one way and prepare to receive shots from the other way.  It is the job of the defender to know who is breaking in on net, and cover them up so the passes don't reach an opposing stick.  Too many teams are taking advantage of all the players watching behind the net, and slowly edging closer to the crease.

I will still Carry the Flag... These boys need some help, but I maintain it's on them to resolve it, not necessarily Howson.

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