Last night, during a 3-3 tied game at the MTS Centre against the Winnipeg Jets, the Penguins were looking for someone to come up with a game-winning goal.
In a game that had already featured depth scoring from players like Riley Sheahan and Derek Grant, you might think that would’ve been the end of the scoring from lesser expected players.
It started with what looked like a simple play, where Phil Kessel had a one-on-one but the puck got away from him and into the corner.
Zach Aston-Reese was lurking behind the play, trailing Josh Morrissey, while Blake Wheeler was coasting into the defensive zone on the other side of the ice.
As Kessel corralled the puck and attempted to fire it towards the net, even though it was a low percentage chance, Blake Wheeler stopped at the hash mark.
The timing and bounce were damn near perfect, as it ricocheted directly off of Wheeler and right into the slot, where Aston-Reese was moving towards.
Aston-Reese made a power move into the slot (as we have seen him do in front of the net recently), and with one swinging motion, he fired the puck into the back of the net.
What I particularly like about the way he handled this segment was a combination of his awareness and the type of shot that he made. Having the awareness to know that the puck could be coming to that soft area of the ice, in congress with the shot, and not taking the time to waste and try and get a perfect angle or position, it made it look very easy for him.
The “Hockey IQ” displayed by Aston-Reese here are the types of plays that coaches love and the types that get you moved up in the lineup if other players might be struggling.