Upon further review: The beauty of YouTube


In my “story in today’s Journal News”:http://www.thejournalnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070201/SPORTS01/702010422/1034/SPORTS, I referred to a “misread” by Thomas Pock that led to Mats Sundin’s deciding goal in last night’s loss to Toronto.

I’ve since watched a clip of that goal more than a dozen times, thanks to the “magical genius of YouTube”:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WpKPjHWtXCk&feature=RecentlyWatched&page=1&t=t&f=b (it was either that or a clip of senior citizen square dancing). What I’ll say now is that I still think “misread” applies when it comes to Pock’s position on the play. But it doesn’t seem now that the fault lies solely with him.

For starters, it’s always a defenseman’s job to not let an opposing forward slip behind him, ESPECIALLY when his partner has possession of the puck. But it’s more complicated than that. I asked Pock what happened and he said that he has yet to see the tape, but that he remembers not wanting to retreat from the blue line because the Rangers would forfeit whatever pressure they were applying in the offensive zone.

“Could I have gone back? We were in their offensive zone and battling for possession of the puck,” Pock said. “When you’re out there with Jagr’s line you want to create offense. There’s no reason for me to stand on our own blue line and wait for them to come down. I’m not doing anyone good by doing that.

“I saw Karel (Rachunek) got the puck and I thought, ‘Good, we’re going to get a shot off.’ The next thing I know, (Sundin) is gone. He was way too far out. I have no idea where he came from.”

Enter the beauty of YouTube. Look at the video and you can see that Sundin actually released off coverage of Rachunek right when Rachunek sent off a pass toward the far post. That pass ended up being intercepted, which allowed Ian White to float a brilliant pass to Sunding streaking toward the Rangers goal. All of this happened in the span of about one second.

So is Rachunek to blame more than Pock? Let’s put it this way: I’m not sure either wants to include the clip in their career highlights (and you might as well throw Michael Nylander, Martin Straka, and Jaromir Jagr into the mix as well, since all three were low in the zone and unable to help). It was a devastating play at the most devastating time, and at season’s end, it’s one of a number of plays that could come back to haunt the Rangers should they fall short of a playoff berth. But as I said earlier, I’m not sure it’s fair to say the blame falls to a single guy, especially when you consider he hasn’t been allowed to get in much of a rhythm all season.

And that leads to the question of whether Pock was benched the rest of the game because of the Sundin goal? Tom Renney said last night that it was more a reflection of wanting to get down to four defensemen in the closing minutes, although he did allow he worried about another lapse. When I asked the coach about it again today, he said it was a five-man error and the whole team can learn from it. Still, we probably won’t know the real repercussions until Saturday against Tampa Bay, when Renney fills out his lineup.

Either way, put this down as yet another example of how quickly this game moves.

“These things happen. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been in the league 15 years,” Pock said. “But I have to see it again. I’m still not sure what happened.”

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  1. Sam,

    Here’s the what i Don’t get understand. We’re down a goal, who gives the rangers the best chance of scoring a goal?

    Aaron Ward, Malik,? Pock has much more offensive talent and skill than both. That’s why it makes no sense to me to go to 4 defenseman.
    Now back to the play, im sorry, but how can be on Pock. It’s rachuneks job at that point to get the puck deep or on net, NOT to try a fancy pass in the middle. No excuse for that, none at all.
    It’s a shame that the kid has to take the blame for this. And is it me, or this like th 4th time Krog was extremely luck turning the puck over in our end to get saved by henrik….yet, renney rewards him with betts ice time.
    I painfully obvious its just been quite some time since we had a head coach who had a clue.

  2. Sam – I echo those who praise you for your work and time devoted to keeping us informed. Its a must read especially on those nights I go to the game since I usually will then know who is playing, sitting and why.

  3. Hey Sam, could Aaron Ward position himself in a more intelligent way so he canstop the crossing passes instead of knocking them in himself???

  4. Doodie Machetto on

    Sam, you don’t need youtube, you can watch highlights on NHL.com. I’m sure youtube probably had some replays though.

    I can see some of the blame put on Rachunek, but it needs to be equally shared by Pock. If one defenseman commits to offense, the other needs to hang back to prevent EXACTLY what happened. Poor offensive choice by Rachunek by choosing a pass instead of a shot, poor choice overall for Pock by choosing offense over defense. I find Pock’s choice to be a little worse than Rachunek’s because that’s a choice for which there can be no safety net if you make the mistake.

    I like Pock, I thought he played especially well the last few games that he was in the lineup. But that play was definitely his error defensively.

    BTW, for as good as Henrik is in the shootout, he gives up a lot of goals on breakaways.

  5. Doodie Machetto on

    Go NYR: some announcer said last night that it’s not bad positioning, its just that he’s a big guy in fron of the net. But I disagree entirely! It’s terrible positioning, considering how it’s actually a noticeable problem and how he’s had this problem in the past! don’t angle your skate to the goal!

  6. Doodie Machetto on

    No, I don’t know where I could find those. It just seems to me that when there is a clean breakaway, he lets them in more often than not.

  7. Renney actully said it best about the Sundin goal. It was afive-man error. That’s hockey a game of mistakes.

  8. Hold on…to the poster who wrote
    “If one defenseman commits to offense, the other needs to hang back to prevent EXACTLY what happened”

    I DISAGREE 100%..it’s not like Rachunek was carrying the puck and chose to enter deep into the zone, he had the puck at the blueline..and made a stupid and careless play w/ the puck. A big difference than getting caught down low and not covering for his partner…he was parallel with his partner, who should have gotten the puck down low, instead turned the puck over at the worst possible position….

  9. Doodie Machetto on

    Sundin burst out of the zone as soon as Rachunek went to the puck. When he bursts out like that, you need to stick with him so they cant hit him wide open for the breakaway.

  10. Doodie Machetto on

    Pock was actually out of the zone as Rachunek approached, and Sundin moved out and Pock moved in, making the gap even larger.

  11. Doodie Machetto on

    BTW Sam, on NHL.com, the video is a lot sharper than that Youtube vid you were watching.

  12. Doodie Machetto on

    Ward’s problem can be solved with the angle of his skate. If he makes it perpendicular to the goal, if a centering pass hits his skate it will come to a stop.

    imagine this is the goal line |

    If Ward Put his skate perpendicular |- the puck won’t be able to angle in, it’ll probably bounce back or come to a dead stop.

    But ward angles his skate the same way a shooter would want to have his stick: | \ so it hits his skate and angles in. It’s the perfect target.

  13. This is stupid. Anyone that’s ever actually played any hockey at any relatively good, competetive, fast level realizes that regardless of fault, bounces, personel, lights, scrape girls, valet parking attendents, or which size dogs they offer at the concession stand, if you have guys with reasonable skill on the puck, that keep their head up, breakaways are gonna happen from time to time. None of this changes two things.

    1. Raycroft was brilliant.
    2. Hall Gill took the piss out of Jagr
    3. Henrik was brilliant.

    There’s your post game summary, free of referee bashing.

  14. DavidG —

    I’m in agreement with you, and that’s part of my point, that this games moves so fast. And that’s why I felt the need to address what I said earlier about Pock.


  15. the fault lies mainly with Rachunek because he tried a soft fancy pass instead of shooting the puck. if he had shot the puck, as Pock expected, it would not have gone right onto White’s stick. there should be a second assist awarded on the play–to Rachunek for his perfect pass right on the stick of a Leaf dman to get the play started.

  16. Plus when Rachunek let his pass shot go, whatever it was, there were three Leafs above Nylander Jagr and Straka who were all at or below the faceoff dot. If the Puck was put in deep that would be three against two Leafs but it was blocked trying to go deep and that was the game.

    I can’t blame one guy for that goal.

  17. Longtimerangerfan on

    Things must really be getting bad…Rodent and Bird don’t update their sites as frequently as they used to.

  18. 10 wins in 24 home games. if they miss the playoffs, that is the main reason why.

    it comes back to Rachunek’s screwup. the Rangers try to be too fancy at home. they want to circle and pass, rather than shoot and rebound. they end up with a very few pretty goals, instead of a lot of gritty goals.

  19. Longtimerangerfan on

    the Rangers try to be too fancy at home. they want to circle and pass, rather than shoot and rebound.

    And that’s exactly what we Ranger fans don’t want to see…I know ’cause I’ve been to several games and all I hear is shoot!

  20. sam, your blog timestamp is off by an hour…love the blog and your work..head and shoulders above the others

  21. Benching a rookie defenseman after he makes an honest mistake can be devastating to his development. Why is Renney so forgiving to Malik, who makes horrible plays as a routine???? I’ve just about had it with Renney.

  22. Thanks Chris. Yes, no fine against Shanahan.

    “We don’t muzzle our players,” NHL vice president Colin Campbell told TSN of Canada on Thursday. “We’re not happy that Brendan Shanahan chose to be critical of our officials but he is, within limits, free to say what he wants.

    “Brendan is a veteran player and has been in our league a long time. If he feels this criticism will help him or his teammates or his team, that it might give them an edge or that it just needed to be said, that’s up to him. But I can say that our referees aren’t going to change the way they call the game because of criticism from anyone. Our referees have a great deal of integrity and they call the game as they see it,” Campbell said.

  23. Sam love your Blog BUT you owe Pock an apology. At the speed that play developed no defenseman would of been able to get back and cover Sundin. The only mistake made by a defenseman on that play was the turnover by Rachunek. Think about it if that pass isn’t a giveaway nobody would be questioning Pocks positioning.

  24. “Think about it if that pass isn’t a giveaway nobody would be questioning Pocks positioning”

    While that’s true, Pock needs to be in a position that would allow him to cover for the possible turnover of his partner. It seemed to me on the play that he wasn’t sure whether he should stay out of the zone or go into it, and by the time he decided to go in, Sundin was breaking out, so when the turnover finally happened, Pock not only had to get back, but he had to stop moving forward too.

    Not the worst play in the world, but certainly not his best.

  25. Doodie Machetto on

    You’re right. Rachunek made a poor choice with the puck and Nylander had overly committed himself as well.

    Overall, not the finest moment for anyone on the ice.

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