In this post we’re dissecting Pavel Datsyuk’s end-to-end goal against Nashville. As great as the individual effort was, there are quite a few team details that really made this play possible.
It starts with Datsyuk providing proper support for his defenseman in the defensive zone. He picks up the puck and initiates the breakout to the right winger. After making the breakout pass, he follows up the play, providing mid-lane support on the breakout. As the breakout is happening, the weak-side winger blows out of the zone, pushing the opposing defenseman back, which opens up space for Datsyuk to wheel. The play finishes with the opposing defenseman reaching for the puck, and Datsyuk eats him alive.
Great individual effort, made possible by well-structured positional play.
We talk a lot about positional play on this blog. Positional play is extremely important, but it’s only part of the equation! There are tactical elements that must be executed in any given scenario for the positioning to be worth anything. In other words, it’s great to be in the right place at the right time… but if you are doing the WRONG thing while you’re there, it’s useless!
Controlling the Stick
There are many instances in games where positional and tactical must be executed together. In this video you see situation where the Team Canada has a positional mix-up, and a forward ends up playing defense. He does a good job covering for the defenseman positionally, but tactically he makes the mistake of not controlling the Slovakian player’s stick, and it results in a goal against.