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.”