Friday, April 18, 2014

Chalk Talk: The Dagger In Game 1

In last night's tragic 5-4 overtime loss, Minnesota had a golden chance to bury the Avalanche once and for all in the game. It was just the type of play where you thought "We're going to remember this one later, aren't we?", when the game ends.

*game ends*

Yep, we sure did. Let's dissect the play shall we?

Mikael Granlund takes the errant pass just inside the Colorado blue line and begins to drive to the slot area. He already has Matt Moulson behind the two defenders, but he is turned the wrong way, otherwise Granlund slips him the puck for an easy breakaway. Jason Pominville is in the neutral zone, but he too begins to dash towards the slot.

As Granlund moved towards the slot area, he throws the puck over to Jason Pominville who moves to the high slot as well. A third Avs defender has jumped in the play here, and note that all three have their eyes solely on Pominville and are paying no attention to Granlund whatsoever. If you are thinking Pominville should have fired a shot there, think again. He was right to pass it.

Granlund takes the puck back from Pominville just inside the faceoff circle and continues to move down low. The goaltender, Varlamov, was down at first but quickly collected himself and came out to challenge Granlund. Granlund has been looking to pass the entire time here, but Moulson is covered on the goalmouth and Pominville is looking to sneak in the back door but there are too many bodies blocking the passing lane. What Granlund did not see here, was that Varlamov was not positioned right, as he was leaving a rather large space to shoot in the five hole area. 

If Granlund saw this, the score becomes 5-3 Minnesota, and Roy probably pulls the goaltender following the next faceoff (the last part was slight sarcasm). But, Granlund tried to force a pass here and it resulted in no goal for the Wild.

This is the play that stuck out last night. It hurt then, and it still hurts today. Golden opportunities like this need to be taken advantage of in the postseason. If you don't cash in, it will be a short series.

Follow Giles on Twitter @gilesferrell

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