Hockey is back. Finally. I wasn't ready for it to be back after the long summer that felt so rewarding seeing the Cup win. But 10 minutes into the game between the Pens and Caps on Thursday night, I was back. It didn't take me long to go from being very zen to being very fired up at a diaper-filled Justin Williams.
With hockey being back, so are my breakdown pieces. These became a staple of my writing during the playoffs, and I hope to keep them going and trying to have one per game.
For Thursday's game, I'm a day late, but better late than never. The play I decided to break down is going to look at the dreadful plays by Dmitry Orlov and T.J. Oshie and the turnover to Conor Sheary that led to Evgeni Malkin's goal. Let's take a look.
This play happened so very fast, that until you take the time to look at it again, you don't even realize what went wrong.
It all starts with Dmitry Orlov, and the forechecking pressure from Patric Hornqvist.
I'm not going to act like Orlov had a ton of options here and picked the worst option. The positioning of the Penguins forechecking make it difficult for him on what he should have done.
Evgeni Malkin was hanging out behind the net, covering any possible drop passes or attempts to eat the puck and slow down the breakout. Patric Hornqvist was pressuring for an immediate play. Conor Sheary and Brian Dumoulin were covering the middle lane, and Kris Letang pinching up the boards towards T.J. Oshie was preventing a pass up the sides.
As Orlov tries to chip it up the middle of the ice, it comes to T.J. Oshie, who tries to push the puck along a little further.
The puck landed perfectly into the lane and the active stick of Conor Sheary, who made a very "heads-up" play to be in position to not only break up the pass, but keep possession as well.
I think this angle here shows how the presence of Kris Letang may have forced Oshie to try and change the angle of the pass breaking out towards the middle, which ultimately was a fatal error, being that Sheary was lurking right in that area.
As Sheary kept possession, the play was immediately set up for success. John Carlson was caught a little bit up ice, and was unable to get back into the defensive zone to make a play. The hit laid by Hornqvist on Orlov from the beginning of the breakout kept him tied up and out of the play as well. Sheary fed the puck to a wide-open Malkin in front, with time.
If you're a goaltender, this is never a sight you want to see. Next thing you know it, it's 2-1 Penguins just a minute from the 2nd period being over.
This is just one example of how offensive pressure and forechecking can create chaos for a team in their own zone and when teams are on their heels, sometimes they make mistakes. That's a joy to see in Game 1, with that kind of attacking pressure.