NJ Devils Goal Breakdown: Mattias Tedenby's Backhander from 1/17/11

Let's go back to January 17, 2011.  The New Jersey Devils were defeated in their previous game 3-2 in overtime to Florida.  They had to take a short trip to Nassau County to take on the New York IslandersMattias Tedenby was on the roster, but he wasn't playing much; having thought to be in Jacques Lemaire's doghouse.   However, Tedenby was activated for this one in place of Adam Mair.  Whatever the reason, the decision worked wonderfully as Tedenby dazzled in a 5-2 win over the Islanders.  What Devils fans will probably recall the most from that game is Tedenby's goal.  It was a great individual effort finished off with a cool backhand shot for the team's third goal of the day. 

It was also such a great play that it demands additional review.  Yesterday, I did a breakdown of my favorite goal from last season.  It was a bit of work, but I enjoyed it and so did most of those who read it.  Prior to writing that post, I asked for other goals to breakdown on Twitter.  This goal by Tedenby was the first one to be suggested by @stlmn39 and also mentioned by @catchy_nickname.   It certainly was great to watch again, and in further detail, I came away more impressed with what Tedenby accomplished on the play.  Maybe you will too.  Please set your viewing to "wide" and continue on after the jump for a picture-based breakdown of Tedenby's goal against the Isles on January 17, 2011.

The Goal

First, check out the video of the play in motion from NHL.com.  This one consists mostly of the play itself.

The fellow wearing #21 in white certainly did a lot.  Let's look at it in more detail.

The Breakdown

Note: The following stills are from the video. The poorly drawn arrows, circles, and other stuff in MS Paint are mine.

Tedenby_play_beginning

The play, and the video, begins with Mattias Tedenby carrying the puck into the Islanders' end of the rink.  Travis Hamonic (#36) is directing the guys in front of him.  Andrew MacDonald, Hamonic's defensive partner on this shift, is setting himself up to close down Tedenby.  This will force the winger to go up the boards.  

At this moment, Tedenby doesn't have a lot of options.  Jason Arnott is the only one in frame of the camera and he's got P-A Parenteau in front of him.  Blake Comeau is coming in support from the rear.  

Tedenby_macdonald_1

Tedenby goes up the boards in a path similar to the pink line preceeding the circle.  The orange line right below it is MacDonald's path.  Hamonic moved from above the left circle to the slot, which is where he should be given where his partner is on the ice.   Parenteau moved off Arnott but that's fine as he's more concerned with any other Devils coming into the zone.   Comeau is watching Tedenby-MacDonald, waiting to see what he has to do.

In this picture, the Islanders seem to be in control.  MacDonald is right in Tedenby's grill and 3 of his teammates are in position.   In many cases, the attacking player with the puck will either be forced to dump it away or battle for the puck with the defender and hope he either wins or gets some support.   This is where Tedenby's individual effort really begins. 

Tedenby_macdonald_2

It begins with a break for Tedenby.  MacDonald stumbles a bit.  Not much, but it's enough for Tedenby to continue on with the puck along the boards.  Why did MacDonald stumble?  Who knows.  The important thing to note here is that Tedenby doesn't blow by MacDonald, he just has the space to go around him.  He's going to keep up with the Devils winger as he travels behind the net.   Tedenby has to do this because he doesn't have any other option at this point to keep the play going.

Tedenby_macdonald_3

This is the first crucial event on the play.  As Tedenby protects the puck (circled in black behind the net), the winger fights off MacDonald.   There's no chance for the Islander defenseman to get the puck even as he's being kept back.  There's no chance for MacDonald to really recover here since he's going to be left behind the net.   Tedenby's strength allows him more space to keep going behind the net.   Again, Tedenby has to do so for two reasons. The first is to make sure MacDonald doesn't get a second chance at getting the puck. The second is that he still doesn't have any options to pass it off to anyone.  Rod Pelley gets in frame, behind Parenteau and the now-arriving Josh Bailey.  Arnott is open but behind Tedenby.

One more thing, Hamonic sees this and motions towards the crease.    He will soon be directly involved with the play.

Tedenby_trap_1

Hamonic tracks Tedenby behind the net and moves to it's right.  He correctly stretches out his stick to close off any potential passing lanes to the slot.  This was wise because if he didn't, Tedenby's got Rod Pelley waiting for a one-timer just inside the right circle.    Tedenby doesn't challenge Hamonic with a pass and will continue behind the net.

At this point, I should note that MacDonald is still behind the net and is scrambling to get back in front.  Bailey takes on Arnott in front of the crease; while the two wingers aren't a factor at this point.

Tedenby_to_fraser

This is the second individual effort by Tedenby, which is ironically a pass.  He waits for the right moment to get it off to the right point as Hamonic gets on his body.  Hamonic provides a good challenge, too.  His body effectively ensures the pass couldn't be for Pelley.  In most cases, forcing the puck-carrier to throw it back to the point is a good thing.  It relieves some pressure down low, assuming his forwards do the right thing at the point.

Tedenby_fraser_to_pelley

Parenteau was not able to do just that.  The pass went up to Mark Fraser, who quickly looks up and notices quite a bit of traffic in front of goaltender Kevin Poulin.  MacDonald's decision to come around the right side of the net adds an extra body along with Bailey and Arnott.   So Fraser, I think, elects to shoot.  That's not a bad decision considering the traffic in front.  He's able to get it off just after Parenteau gets into his line of sight. 

However, there's a problem and his name is Rod Pelley.  He was also in Fraser's line of sight and so the attempted shot gets batted down by Pelley.  An inadvertent block, to be sure.  However, this would prove important for Tedenby. He is off-camera here but is about to skate behind Pelley's position as indicated by the pink arrow.

Tedenby_collects_behind_pelley

The puck bounces off Pelley's stick and eventually finds it's way behind Pelley.  Hamonic was in position as the puck was bouncing so he takes his attention off Tedenby and attempts to bat the puck.  That didn't work, so while he's looking at Tedenby taking the puck, he's got Pelley right in front of him.  Parenteau can't do anything, so he's out of the play as indicated by the X.   Comeau hasn't been involved in this play, so he's not a concern anymore.  

This is the main "luck" part of this play. The puck could have been bouncing anywhere, but it just happened to drop in a position for Tedenby to pick it up.  This attack could have died or went really sloppily, but instead, the winger gets a second chance to continue it. Adding to his fortune is where he gets it - just above the right dot.  This allows him to use Pelley as a blocker as he looks to get into the slot with the puck.  MacDonald is still trying to get his bearings, and Bailey is still concerned with Arnott.

Tedenby_in_slot_fake_shot

Tedenby succeeds in getting into the slot.  It is at this point where most players would elect to shoot.  I wouldn't have complained.  The slot is a good spot to shoot from and with the bodies in front of him, it's possible the goaltender doesn't see it coming.   Moreover, Tedenby's open at this juncture.  Hamonic is trying to get an angle but it's too tight for him to get to Tedenby.  Bailey rotated back which frees up Arnott and allowed MacDonald to cross into the slot.  MacDonald returns as the main person Tedenby has to deal with on this play, indicated by the circle; but he's some distance away.

Tedenby decides not to shoot, and this is defensible as well. With all of the bodies in front, it's not clear whether or not Tedenby even has a clear shot.  Going to his right could strike Arnott or have it go wide. Going to his left would have the same risk except Bailey would get to it first.   Shooting straight would be very difficult since he sees MacDonald into the slot and coming towards him.    While it looks like Tedenby's going to shoot, he's not going to do that.  He's going to make his third significant individual effort.

Tedenby_toe_drag

 

A toe-drag!  This may be considered "hot dogging" by some and when it doesn't work, it looks really dumb.  I believe there are times where such a move is appropriate.  This was definitely one of them.  In the above picture, Tedenby's just about done with the move and you can see the effect.  Hamonic vainly stretches for it, but he's got no chance.  He's now out of the play.  Bailey is behind the play, so all he can do is watch.  Most of all, MacDonald gets on his knees and lunges for it; but Tedenby pulled off the move at the right time so he can't get to it either.   Poor MacDonald, he got upstaged by a rookie twice in a matter of seconds.  

As for Tedenby, he now has a lane go around the bodies and attack the net from the right side.  Arnott was passive on this attack, but it's a benefit for #21 because he can use him as a screen if he so choose.  At the least, it gives Poulin a reason to hesitate.

Tedenby_preshot

The conclusion of the toe-drag: Tedenby's got a one-on-one with Poulin.  Tedenby got around MacDonald and ensured that he's all by himself for a few moments with the puck.   He elected not to use Arnott as a screen.  The puck's on his backhand and now all Tedenby has to do is shoot it and get it on net.

Poulin has had some traffic to deal with on this play, but he knew he had to get to his left as soon as he could after the toe drag.  However, he wasn't as quick as Tedenby in going laterally; and he was already on his knees.  I believe his position made sure his glove stayed low.  This meant Tedenby had to shoot the puck high off his backhand, which is by no means an easy shot.  The puck could soar over the net, not get enough elevation, or just go astray.

Of course, as we know now, Tedenby roofed it over Poulin to finish a play that impressed Devils fans all around the world.

The Summary & Conclusion

The play began and ended with Mattias Tedenby.   In the onset of the attack, it didn't look like anything of significance was going to happen.  However, Andrew MacDonald stumbling allowed Tedenby to keep going and that little break was blown wide open by the winger. Just to summarize what he did: He warded off the defender behind the net, he got the puck away when he needed to, he picked it up when it went loose off a favorable bounce, he carried it right into the slot, he pulled off a near-perfect toe-drag to his right, and then finished the play with a great backhand shot.   Tedenby did a lot of work on this play and surely earned his goal.  It's easy to classify this as a great individual effort.

Yet, it is not accurate to say this was a totally individual effort.  Tedenby did a lot by himself, there were certainly important individual moments.  However, this play doesn't happen if MacDonald didn't stumble to begin with.  It doesn't continue if Mark Fraser wasn't open at the point to give Tedenby an out when Hamonic got to him past the right of the net.  Tedenby wouldn't have got a second chance on the attack if Fraser's shot got through or if it bounced elsewhere off Pelley. (Aside: Fraser still got the primary assist on the goal, for what it's worth).   I'm sure Arnott hanging out at the net provided some kind of passive benefit.  This breakdown just goes to show that even when a player does a lot on their own, they still benefit from some help and good breaks.

Lastly, let's consider this from the Islanders perspective.  In looking at all of these pictures and reviewing the video, I'm not sure what the Islanders did wrong on this play.  MacDonald just looks bad because he stumbled a  bit and got beat twice.  He didn't make any mistakes.  Hamonic was in the right position initially, picked up Tedenby after he got past MacDonald, and tried to get the loose puck away from Pelley.   Bailey picked up Arnott, who wasn't really involved.  Comeau wasn't a factor, and it's not like Poulin made some horrible decision either.  Parenteau could have had tighter coverage on the point, but it's not like Fraser did something great to stop him.   Sometimes, an offensive play just gets the better of a defense.  I believe that's what happened in this case, which was largely - but not completely - accomplished by Tedenby.

Your Take

Now that you've seen Tedenby's work and the help he got in closer view, I want to know your opinion on this breakdown. What did you learn from this breakdown of Tedenby's goal?  What in the breakdown stuck out to you the most?   Which one of Tedenby's maneuvers did you appreciate the most?  For me, it was the toe-drag; a great example of when to use it in a game.   Please leave your answers in the comments along with any other thoughts about this particular goal.  If you have any other suggestions for a specific goal to breakdown, leave it in the comments or tell @InLouWeTrust on Twitter with important details like who scored it and when it was scored.  Thanks for reading.

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