Breaking Down the Backbreaking Goal Against the Penguins
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Penguins Analysis

Breaking Down the Backbreaking Goal Against the Penguins



Pittsburgh Penguins

The Pittsburgh Penguins defense did not have their finest hour on Tuesday night. The Montreal Canadiens split them, went around them and overpowered them. From the opening minutes when Artturi Lehkonen breezed by Justin Schultz, to the pair of wide-open chances which the Penguins afforded to Nick Cousins, it was an auspicious start which didn’t improve in the second period.

Montreal scored three goals in the second period, including a pair of late goals against John Marino and Kris Letang. The second Montreal goal was squarely on Letang who allowed Armia to easily pass at the blue line.

But the third goal is worth exploring as an academic hockey exercise. As one tweeter pointed out, Letang should have gone to the far post on Shea Weber’s wrap-around goal. That is textbook positioning on a two-on-two and if the goal were an even situation, that’s a no-brainer. However, this very quickly devolved from even to an odd-man break, which changes everyone’s responsibility.

Let’s start with the gap and play recognition. You can see in the first frame, Weber is at full speed out of his own zone, but Marino (top defender) doesn’t yet see it. Marino’s head is turned towards Artturi Lehkonen.

Pittsburgh Penguins

This is already a two-on-two. Lehkonen is Letang’s man. Marino (black circle) has to recognize the charging threat (red circle and arrow) but is focused on the puck carrier. Marino begins to feel the play at his own blue line and should be adjusting to get in front of Weber (red arrow) but is now caught between everything. This is where the pair could have called a switch, but 1) that is a long way for Letang. 2) Neither Marino nor Letang yet knew Marino was beaten.

Pittsburgh Penguins

Just feet inside the blue line, Marino is toast. He was forced to lunge at Weber and the play began to break down for the Penguins.

Pittsburgh Penguins

Weber is easily ahead before the faceoff dot. The television replays don’t show it as clearly but take it from someone whose pressbox seat was on top of the play, Marino was five feet behind by the dot. By beating Marino so quickly, Weber made the play a two-on-one against Letang. Weber even dipped his shoulder on the rush, to signal a pass.

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Below, Marino is burned. The two-on-one means two things: 1) Letang must take away the pass. The dotted line denotes his path and his defense to prevent Lehkonen from getting an easy goal. 2) The goalie takes the shooter.

If Letang leaves his man, as some wanted, it’s an easy goal for Montreal because Lehkonen would have been on his forehand with a mostly empty net.

It is important to note, you and I know Weber went all the way around the net, but the Penguins defenders didn’t yet know. So, as you scroll through, keep in mind each stage is a decision.

The mistakes pile up as now Jarry is out of position in the next to the last frame. Remember, Jarry has the shooter, which is Weber, and Letang has to take away the pass.

In that context, the Pittsburgh Penguins hopes to stop the play are a few. Marino has to catch Weber or chip him just enough at some point as he circumnavigated the net. Jarry overplayed the angle. Notice Jarry’s right skate below. He has left the net and nearly all but his left skate is beyond the post. Jarry has put himself in a bad angle. His stick should have been ready to defend the pass or the puck, but he was passive on this attempt. At this moment in the process, Jarry must pokecheck Weber to prevent the play, or hope he passes it.

Marino is still trailing Weber and the defensemen didn’t switch. Marino is out of the play.

Letang can’t bolt for the post, or Lehkonen would be open for a tap in. The time for a switch is over.


The grand finale: A wide-open wrap-around by a defenseman and the backbreaking goal in the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-1 loss.

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Pittsburgh Hockey Now owner, formerly 93.7 The Fan, Sportsnet Hockey Tonight. Catch Dan tweeting @theDanKingerski and the official @pghhockeynow account.

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  1. candydasein

    December 11, 2019 at 8:36 am

    Bread analysis, Dan. All stemmed from a rare mistake in an otherwise stunningly successful season for Marino.

    • candydasein

      December 11, 2019 at 8:37 am

      That should say great analysis not “bread analysis.” Although bread is great.

      • Dan Kingerski

        December 11, 2019 at 1:44 pm

        Thanks, Candy. I agree, bread is great.

  2. Herman

    December 11, 2019 at 8:37 am

    What is it about the second frame for the Pittsburgh Penguins? Obviously, the flood gates opened up by the Weber goal but Pens seem to let team back into games in the second stanza (even when they are winning).

  3. Edgar

    December 11, 2019 at 1:46 pm

    What bothers me here is the second and third frame. Marino has his eyes on Weber nd he sees the guy is looking to pass it to him. So, how does he get so out of position by the very next frame that Weber is already by him? He needs to be smarter and take the proper angle.

  4. Jeff Elson

    December 11, 2019 at 7:03 pm

    The other thing that irks me about this defensive breakdown is the the lack of any back pressure from Jake or Rusty on the play. Instead of moving their feet when they saw Weber exiting his zone with speed, they both stopped skated and watched the debacle unfold in front of them while coasting into their defensive zone. Had either one of them decided to provide meaningful back pressure, they would have been close enough to get stick on puck as Weber tried the wrap around.

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