• Oilers-Canes: Special Teams

    by  • November 10, 2010 • Uncategorized • 5 Comments

    From a production value standpoint, the highlight of the Oilers/Canes game had to be the Hurricanes’ first PP in the second period. In the 1:01 between Steve MacIntyre’s penalty and Tom Gilbert’s replay, they managed to miss three faceoffs, all in the service of showing uninteresting replays. This seems to be a real problem for Sportsnet, with seemingly every second faceoff during special teams missed while Sportsnet showed inane replays or gave us a shot from the penalty box on one of those low-resolution cameras that have the feel of being something used to illicitly film people in the washroom. If it’s an attempt to hide the fact that the Oilers suck at faceoffs, the cat’s already out of the bag. If it’s not, it’d be nice if they’d get their act together.

    Anyway, it was a pretty miserable night for the special teams, goalwise, although the Oilers look to have moved the puck reasonably well relative to Carolina. (A side note: I am focusing on only 5v4 play.) I’m not sure how much to take from this game, given that there were third period PP shifts being taken by Zack Stortini, usually an indication that the coach has given up for the night.

    7:09 of 5v4 time for Carolina tonight to 8:20 for the Oilers, with Carolina establishing possession in the offensive zone on more occasions (26 to 24). The Oilers had 10 10 second+ possessions to Carolina’s 8. They both had 6 5-9 second possessions and Carolina had 12 short possessions to Edmonton’s 8. The Canes made 66 passes successful passes while in possession to the Oilers’ 60. The data is below.

    One of the guys in the booth usefully noted during the broadcast that Carolina was sliding a guy into the high slot on the PP. The Oilers were setting up a diamond tonight and Cole took advantage of it on the first PP – the replay was fascinating. Cole was down low and, when another Hurricane player came down there, he drifted it up. The puck was on the high boards, with Jeff Skinner holding it. Hemsky was the high point on the diamond and Strudwick the left side of it. Cole just slid back so that Skinner could sneak a shot/pass between Hemsky and Strudwick and re-directed it home.

    The sequence of events that led to Joe Corvo’s goal to make it 3-0 was a pretty fascinating one. Carolina gained the zone and possession with 1:31 left in the PP. They proceeded to set up to Khabibulin’s left. Eric Staal was playing the point on that side of the ice, so I’d imagine that that’s a pretty common play for Carolina. Jordan Eberle was at the far right of the diamond. Carolina was essentially set up with three guys on the left side of the ice – Tuomo Ruutu, Eric Staal and Jeff Skinner. Erik Cole was back playing in the centre of the diamond and Joe Corvo was to Khabibulin’s right.

    I’d be interested to know what the expectations of Eberle are in this circumstance. He’s basically got Cole in front of him, although in such a position that’s going to be difficult for him to make a play on Cole if the puck comes to him. He also has Corvo behind him. It strikes me that it’s going to be pretty tough to control Corvo there, because he has a heck of a time watching the play in front of him and Corvo behind him.

    Sure enough, the puck was worked to Corvo a couple of times. With about 1:17 left in the PK, Eberle starts to move towards Cole, who was gliding towards the dot to Khabibulin’s left. Staal sees this and whips a pass through the diamond, with Eberle’s side collapsed a bit, to Corvo. Eberle comes to Corvo, who returns the pass to Staal.

    At this point, you can see Eberle start to lose track of Corvo. He checks him once, with about 1:13 left in the PK. Carolina moves the puck down low on the left side and Eberle follows, without checking on Corvo. Carolina was trying to work it out to Corvo for the shot here but was unsuccessful.

    With 1:01 left in the PK, Corvo drops down almost to the goal line. Eberle read this nicely. He keeps checking to his right but, seeing nothing, drops deeper towards the net, keeping Cole in front of him. I would guess that his thinking was that if he couldn’t see Corvo, Corvo had to be down low and, in those circumstances, he was free to drop back, taking away the pass to the point and putting himself in front of Cole. Skinner ended up trying to force a pass through Eberle’s position, which he blocked and it was only a bad bounce that led to Corvo getting a chance there.

    Ultimately, Eberle lost the battle. The puck went back to Skinner at the point, Corvo made his move, although not as deep, Eberle checked to his right, didn’t see Corvo and started to collapse towards Cole and the net and Corvo pulled up into the hole that had been created. Skinner’s pass made it through and a soft goal beat Khabibulin.

    The third Carolina PP goal featured the far side of the Oilers diamond getting pulled open again, creating another opportunity for a cross-ice play and a shot. Penner and Hemsky were the forwards, with Hemsky being the high man. The puck came to Brandon Sutter, playing in the centre of the diamond. Sutter bobbled it and both Hemsky and Penner came to him, like moths to a flame. Unfortunately, Sutter managed to knock it back to over to Jussi Jokinen, playing on the half-boards to Dubnyk’s left. Jokinen whipped it through the space vacated by Penner on the far side of the diamond and Corvo scored on Dubnyk, after he couldn’t quite squeeze the puck.

    A tough night for the diamond. Two of the three goals were pretty soft – both Khabby and Dubnyk probably would want the Corvo goals back – but Carolina was able to exploit the opportunities that they found in the PK, a not unfamiliar event this year.



    5 Responses to Oilers-Canes: Special Teams

    1. David Staples
      November 10, 2010 at

      This diamond penalty kill makes little sense to me. The defensive angles seem all wrong to block passes — maybe it’s just that the players are so unfamiliar with it. The team seems vulnerable to a quick pass down low to a forward near the net, where the Oil have just one d-man at the bottom of the diamond.

      And, of course, twice now we’ve seen the puck slipped hard into the slot, then redirected at the net, first by Sedin, now by Cole.

    2. BRIdub
      November 10, 2010 at

      I think one of the other problems I’ve seen with it is when the forward at the top of the diamond has to drift towards the half boards for whatever reason the diamond rotates leaving a defenceman covering the far point and a forward down low covering near the net. It often seems like a neverending clusterF of people covering for people with the same inevitable result more often than not.

    3. November 10, 2010 at

      I agree with Staples on the issue of the angles. The most dangerous pass on a PP is the one that goes diagonally across the zone, whether its from a corner to a point, or a point to a faceoff dot. The traditional “box” blocks those angles better with the two high forwards. With a diamond formation, it feels like you have more open passes in that regard. Not only that, but having one forward up against the point seems extremely wrong – it’s essentially accepting a 2v1 at the “setup” point of the PP unit. The diamond seems like it only works with very strong “man coverage” concepts, instead of passing lanes. When you get into man coverage on a penalty kill, you quickly find out that you (surprise!) are missing a man.

    4. dawgbone
      November 10, 2010 at

      The Oilers PK reminds me of a company I used to work for.

      Whenever there’s a problem, throw more people at it. Don’t worry about worrying about who does what, just throw more people at it until it’s done.

      Puck on the sidewall? Throw a d-man at it. Puck gets carried to the point? Throw a forward at it too.

      What’s that you say? There’s 3 people open? No worries we’ll throw 2 guys at one of them and hopefully we either get the puck out and do it again or they score and we don’t have to worry about it.

    5. November 13, 2010 at

      Heh, just reading this now. It seems we’re on the same page w.r.t. Sportsnet’s coverage or lack thereof of the faceoffs, which is appallingly bad. I just wrote a piece on this very subject yesterday over at C&B. I hadn’t read this one, honest!

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