clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Breaking down the Islanders defensive breakdown on Kris Letang’s game-winning goal

New, comments

Last night in Brooklyn, the Pens came away victorious in overtime thanks to Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang

Normally, when I write these type of breakdown pieces, I start things off with a mini-recap of what went on in the sequence I’m going to break down.

Before I get into doing that, I would just like to say how blessed we are to be able to watch the Penguins put a 3-on-3 unit on the ice that consists of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Kris Letang. That’s kind of silly, to be honest.

There is not much to be surprised about when you learn that Crosby stepped on the ice in overtime last night, and shortly later, the game was over with the Penguins getting the win.

Anyways, let’s take a look at it here and how it all went wrong for the Islanders.

What vision for Crosby and what awareness from Kris Letang to find the open space too.

As Sidney Crosby steps on the ice, Kris Letang does what all the kids who play on sports teams with a ringer are taught, and give the best player the puck/ball/whatever. He gets him the puck before Shane Prince can step up and challenge for a turnover

Crosby steps into the slot in an attempt to take a shot. As he does this, Kris Letang, who avoided Brock Nelson when making the pass to Crosby, cheats up the ice along the boards.

Prince is able to block Crosby’s shot attempt, but it deflects right to the space that Letang was skating to. Let’s pretend that this was all some big moment of synergy that happened 100% on purpose.

As Letang goes into the corner to retrieve the puck, he’s followed there by both Brock Nelson and Shane Prince.

Letang holds the puck long enough to freeze Brock Nelson, and once the space is more available, he gets the puck back to Crosby.

As Letang gets it to Crosby, he starts heading behind the net in an attempt to lose Shane Prince. Crosby, meanwhile, puts a quick fake-shot on, and Brock Nelson just completely loses his bearings as a result.

Crosby moves back inside, and Brock, buddy, you’re facing the wrong way. Letang does what he was trying to do and keeps on behind the net, and Prince cheats to cover Crosby.

At this point, Nelson has taken himself out of the play, and Prince wasn’t able to quickly get into Crosby’s passing lane. Crosby makes the play that you’re always told — “Don’t pass it to the player, pass it to where the player is going to be.” And he does just that. He makes a perfect touch pass that is exactly where Letang is going to be at the exact time he needed it.

Letang has an open net to shoot at and that’s it.

Underrated part of this entire sequence — Evgeni Malkin doing his best Tomas Holmstrom impression without drawing an interference penalty or without actually interfering. Going back to the first frame and looking all the way through, Malkin was able to occupy the net-front with Nick Leddy the entire time. He never got into a 50/50 battle for space and never got intertwined with Jaroslav Halak. The fact that Leddy just kind of stayed there with him essentially took this from a 3-on-3 OT into a 2-on-2 OT.

To circle back to my original point, more than anything, it’s a legitimate treat to be able to watch three players like Malkin, Crosby, and Letang play at the level that they are capable of night in and night out.

Imagine being an Islanders fan and trying to talk yourself into enjoying Brock Nelson and Shane Prince be the two forwards on the ice in overtime