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Breaking down the benefits of a pinching defenseman in the offensive zone

Down 2-1 in last nights game against Calgary, the Penguins needed a goal. Ian Cole jumped up into the offensive zone and helped create some offense to tie the game and salvage a point, before losing in OT

NHL: Columbus Blue Jackets at Pittsburgh Penguins Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Late in the third period of the game on Tuesday evening between Pittsburgh and the Calgary Flames, the Penguins found themselves needing a goal, down by a score of 2-1. As the games wind down and you start running out of time, this is when you see defensemen jump up and take chances offensively - sometimes ones who might not be your typical ones to do so.

Ian Cole made perfect use of his chance last night, jumping into the offensive zone, grabbing possession of the puck, and feeding little Jake Guentzel with a remarkable pass to set him up for a tying goal.

Ian Cole started the play off on the right side, rimming it around the end boards, where Jake Guentzel was set up.

Guentzel attempted to keep it in and start a cycle, but couldn’t gain possession of the puck. As Dennis Wideman was going behind the net to play the puck, Nick Bonino applied a little bit of pressure.

Wideman, under pressure, half-blindly threw the puck up the ice towards Troy Brouwer and Sean Monahan.

Brouwer sees the puck coming, but isn’t in an ideal position to try and play it. He was half facing the wrong way, and perhaps a little off balance.

The puck hits Brouwer’s stick and pops up in the air. Monahan sees the puck about to land in front of him, and that’s where Ian Cole jumps up into the play.

Ian Cole is the beneficiary of a bounce that hops over Monahan’s stick.

Cole takes a second to corral the puck a bit and try and make a pass to Guentzel, who is turning to open up for a shot.

Cole plays the puck to Guentzel, with a nice pass between the feet of Monahan. By this point, Jake has opened up perfectly — remarkable poise by the young player to get himself in a scoring position.

Ready to shoot, Guentzel gets the puck and immediately blows it past Chad Johnson to tie the game at 2-2.

Sure, Cole got a little puck luck with the bounce over Monahan’s stick, but all-in-all, that jump into play and that nice kind of pass are the types of things you need to see from defensemen when you’re desperate for a goal late in the game.

My biggest takeaway from this goes back to the offensive awareness and “hockey IQ” of Jake Guentzel. He missed out on the chance to keep the puck in when he was in the corner, but didn’t give up. He kinda lurked in the high slot waiting for a chance, and capitalized on it when he got one.