*Co-editor’s note. This is a new series of articles. I will be writing about one or several plays that had an impact on the game. The title of this series is called ‘Stop It Right There’ as an ode to Gary Dornhoefer, a former TV analyst for the Flyers, who used to say this when he would breakdown specific plays during the intermissions. Each gif was created on makeagif.com.
Behind three-point nights from Claude Giroux and Scott Hartnell, the Philadelphia Flyers routed the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday night by a score of 5-0.
After a shaky first period, the orange and black collected themselves and dominated for the remaining two periods. There are two plays I want revisit and breakdown because I am a believer in the basics of hockey. When the fundamentals are established, puck start going into the net and wins start to pile up.
Let’s start with Hartnell’s second goal of the night.
Stop it right there. Giroux’s vision and Voracek’s drive.
Hartnell scored his second goal of the night thanks to a turnover from Red Wings’ defenseman Niklas Kronwall. He tried to make a pass, but the Flyers were there to corral it. Giroux scooped up the loose puck and darted out of his zone, through the neutral zone and crossed the blue line.
Giroux is a great player because of his playmaking abilities. He has the vision to see where a play will end before it even happens. This goal happened not only because of Giroux’s slick passing, but Jakub Voracek driving to the net.
With a man on his back, Giroux sweeps the puck to Hartnell who is all alone at the top of the faceoff circle. When the television broadcast crew replayed this goal, Keith Jones pointed to how Jakub Voracek drove to the net. Keep your eye on Voracek. He negates Jonathan Ericsson during this play. As a defenseman, Ericsson had to take Voracek because he posed the biggest threat. This opened the passing lane for Giroux and left Hartnell all alone.
Stop it right there. Voracek’s hustle.
Giroux’s 16th goal of the season was a result of another Detroit turnover, this time at their own blue line. As you can see in the gif below, Voracek made several efforts to regain control of the puck. At one point, he had two Red Wings on his back, yet he still emerged with the puck. Voracek’s puck possession is one of his best skills. He has the speed to beat the defense, but I see a little bit of Ville Leino in him. During his short stint with the Flyers, Leino was able to control the puck,which helped sustain pressure in the offensive zone. Voracek has some of that to complement his speed.
After winning the puck battle, Voracek passed the puck to a streaking Hartnell. Smothered by two defensemen, Hartnell backhanded a pass to Giroux. Staying calm, Giroux took a few steps closer to the net before firing a shot from the faceoff dot.
Once again, it was Voraceks’ commitment to the fundamentals that helped create this goal. Winning puck battles along the boards is crucial to winning hockey games and in this case, it lead to the Flyers increasing their lead.
Stop it right there. Gustafsson’s speed prevents a two-on-one.
Because this was not featured on the highlight reel I found, I am linking the play from the Flyers’ website. Fast forward to 1:22 and you will see how Erik Gustafsson’s speed negated a two-on-one. This is why I think Gustafsson should be in the lineup every night. His speed and puck skills bring a new element to the Flyers’ attack. While his presence alone will not make any headlines, he does make the Flyers’ offense better than Luke Schenn or Nicklas Grosmann* ever will.
I am not saying those two defensemen are bad, offense is just not their game and in today’s NHL teams need players who are better passers.