Thursday, November 18, 2010

How Not To Play Defense

Hermano here.

Last night's game against Columbus was excruciating simply because we should've won. After clawing our way back into the game and even taking the lead, yet promptly giving it up, it seemed the Kings were moments away from scoring that go-ahead goal late in the third period. The pressure was good, we were getting decent shots on Mason, and you could just feel that the Kings were a bounce away from scoring our fourth goal.

Enter Davis Drewiske.

You could make an argument that he was somewhat at fault for the BJ's third goal. But let's skip right ahead to 3:16 left in the third period and show everyone how not to play defense.

Slide 1:

At this point, Drewiske is circled in red and Steve Rick Nash is on the top-left of the screencap. I would argue that Drewiske is in decent position, although I'd prefer him to be a little closer to Nash. If Brassard beats Jack Johnson one-on-one (note: HIGHLY unlikely), Drewiske would be able to pinch in and help out. So far, so good.

However, Drewiske HAS to know that Brassard wants to give the puck to Nash - who is basically a combination of Steve Nash and Rick Flair. In other words, he's really really awesome.

Slide 2:

Okay, like I said, Drewiske HAS to know that the pass is coming to Nash. What would Drew Doughty do? He'd intercept the pass (in a Tracy Porter-esque fashion), take it end to end, and fire a rocket through Mason. What does Drewiske do? Look at that screencap - his stick is literally ready to intercept that pass. He knew it was coming but yet he hesitated and let the pass reach Nash. Bad idea.

Slide 3:

What's the first rule about playing defense? Put yourself between the puck and the goal. What's the second rule? Force the guy outside so he can't take a good shot on your goalie.

Anyone, especially someone like Rick Nash, will have an infinitely better chance at scoring down the middle compared to scoring from the outside. All Drewiske has to do is hold his ground and force Nash to go around Drewiske's right. But look at where Drewiske's momentum is carrying him. (I drew little arrows in case you're having trouble following.) He's ready to force Nash to the outside, except that there's too much space in between Drewiske and Nash.

Slide 4:

And there it is. All Nash has to do is make the quick move to the middle and he's got a free lane to shoot at Quick. What pains me about this is that Drewiske KNEW the pass was going to Nash, knew that all he had to do was prevent Nash from cutting to the middle, and yet he still blew it. Look at Drewiske's stick! He can't even get his stick on Nash to disrupt the play. It's not enough that Drewiske physically can't put his body between Nash and Quick; Drewiske can't even get a stick on Nash. (Things also don't really help when your goalie did a butterfly slide while following Brassard's pass, and thus was already in a down position - leaving the top corners of the net exposed.)

Slide 5:

Just look at Drewiske. He's the guy who's parallel with the ice. That's never a good thing, unless you're trying to block a shot. (Also look how far Quick is in his crease, giving Nash a whole lot of net to shoot at.)

Final Thoughts:

Yes, I might be a little harsh on Drewiske, but it's mental lapses on defense by our non-superstar defensemen (Randy Jones immediately comes to mind, with his "performance" during last season's playoff series against Vancouver) that cost us games. It's not just goals they're costing us - it's the game. That's right - Drewiske cost us the game. We had all the momentum during that third period and Drewiske's huge mistake cost us everything.

Click here for the full video.

My only hope is that the Kings correct these mistakes and move forward. This is a great team but there's no excuse for blowing games like last night.

Much love till my next post.


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