Anatomy of a power play goal

Ales Hemsky had a great game against Vancouver on Sunday, and his best moment was the power play goal in the third period that sent the game into overtime. The goal showed Hemsky at his best, showcasing his high-end speed and shot, but it was also the product of a lot of work from the entire power play unit.

Superficially, the goal looks like it’s all on Hemsky, but the entire power play contributed in some way, making room for Hemsky’s brilliance. Lets’ have a look.

Devan Dubnyk takes the puck behind his net. He’s under some forechecking pressure from Mason Raymond here and could get into trouble if he hangs on to the puck too long; he opts for a simple, short pass to Ryan Whitney.

Now the pressure transfers to Whitney. He too opts for the safe, simple play: a pass to Sam Gagner along the half boards.

Gagner wastes no time skating up to center. Whitney’s out of the picture but so too is the Canucks forechecker. Now the Oilers are attacking the Canucks blue line with a 4-on-3 advantage. Gagner and Ales Hemsky have Alex Burrows in a 2-on-1 situation along the right boards. Ryan Smyth is driving for the gap between defencemen Alex Edler and Jason Garrison, which leaves Edler facing a plausible 2-on-1 with both Smyth and Yakupov bearing down on him. Gagner opts to cut to the middle a little bit to draw Burrows off the boards and then make a backhand pass to Hemsky, who is at full speed.

Gagner’s move has given Hemsky all the room he is going to need. Burrows corrects to turn to Hemsky while Garrison (the last man back here) also identifies him as the primary threat. Edler stays high on the far side (as he should).

Burrows can’t correct in time – Hemsky takes advantage of the space and blows past him.

Garrison can’t get over far enough to take away the shot; he’s in good position to thwart a pass but if Hemsky elects to shoot there’s nothing he can do. The combination of the Gagner move and Hemsky’s speed mean that the Canucks are going to surrender a good opportunity here.

Hemsky makes a perfect shot.

It’s not really the most complicated goal – the whole play from the time Dubnyk touched the puck to the time Hemsky scored only took up eight seconds (Sportsnet’s clock ticked down an extra second after the goal was officially in) – but watching it last night I was struck by its elegance. On the defensive side, two short, safe passes from Dubnyk and Whitney eliminated the threat of the forecheck and allowed the Oilers to take off on a 4-on-3 rush. Yakupov and Smyth offered Gagner plenty of options as he approached the blue line and forced the Canucks to cover the whole ice. Gagner himself did solid work, pulling Burrows off the boards a little before setting up Hemsky. From there, Hemsky took over – taking the puck at full speed, looking for a shot the whole way, and then picking his spot perfectly.

It was a lovely play, and one the entire second unit of the power play worked to author. 

Recently by Jonathan Willis


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  • Reg Dunlop

    Looking at the difference in Bobby Lou in the last two frames I was amazed how small he made himself after the shot. In the second last frame Hemmer has nothing to shoot at.

    • Double Bingo! Did you see Luongo’s position on the Eberle backhand goal? He’s post leg down and covering the bottom corner only, looking very compact. If he’s in proper post leg up position, square and tall, there’s no way Eberle scores from that angle. Luuuuuu my ass!

    • The Soup Fascist

      Luongo is so deep in his net that it made it possible for Hemsky, coming in on his “correct” wing (vs. off wing) to score from a poor angle.

      Don’t get me wrong, great play by Hemsky, but a confident Luongo is not letting Hemsky see that much net. You are correct he is making himself seem smaller than he actually is.

      I know it is early, but ….. Big troubles in Crackhead City, if they don’t figure it out.

    • Marcus

      Bingo. The 2nd last frame with 5:57 on clock. Hemmer is on the face-off dot and Loo is squared in the crease to Hemmer. Look at that screenshot and ask yourself how the hell does he score over the blocker side shoulder .

      Fricken’ amazing shot.

      • Romulus' Apotheosis

        I think he actually scores below the shoulder, that’s why Lou is obviously upset about not having it. If he just would have squeezed his arm a bit more, it would have been his.

        It was nice to see this second unit do its thing. Once Yak gels with these guys a little more, this could end up being the Oilers best line, especially because if the softer competition they are likely to face.

        Having said that it was nice to see Hall flying around creating a ton of space for just everyone.

        I’m trying not to take too much from this first game win against a depleted Canucks team, but it’s not like the Oilers were firing on all cylinders either.

        Notable highlights were Dubnyks ultra calm play in net, and our third and fourth line playing as good as they might be asked to play.

        On the back end, Petry looked awesome. And Nick Schultz was sorely needed on this team. With the emergence of Petry, the signing of Justin Schultz, and the continued play of Nick Schultz, the Gilbert trade is really beginning to look great.

    • Romulus' Apotheosis

      On top of JWs response… the shoot out doesn’t count.

      but also, Hemsky was already off the ice on the first goal. It shouldn’t be counted as a minus.

      On the second, the blame is clearly on Whitney with a special mention to Gagner…

      But look, the Sedins are going to eff with you at some point during a game, you need to be better but also tip your hat.

      At any rate, Hemsky’s game is a good lesson on how +/- is often a very, very poor stat.

  • 1983 and This Year

    Prior to this year, Hemsky would have looked to dish off an ill-advised pass to Gagner in the slot which would have been knocked away by one of the Van back checkers. I want that selfish Hemmer, looking to shoot the whole way! A Healthy Hemmer and Healthy Hall are going to have a huge impact this year.