As a handful of you might have already gathered, I enjoy breaking down game film. I hope you can join me on this wonderful journey.
This week’s Bruins Play of the Year of the Week So Far (™) begins with Loui Eriksson. The play, coming from the game on 12/26 at home against the Buffalo Sabres, starts around 5:43 into the second period, and resulted in the Bruins’ first goal of the period and game. If you’re reading this and saying "I already know who scored here and the exact sequence", you either have an intense, possibly photographic memory, or else you’re the NHL.com/stats page come to life. Either way, please leave me alone, you’re frightening me.
Let the brilliance wash over you.
Step 1 to any great play: get the puck on your stick. Eriksson is a joy to watch when he gets control of it, and he honestly makes my heart rate jump up when he’s in the offensive zone slinging beautiful passes and firing lazers. Maybe it’s his dreamy face - either way, I love it.
Eriksson reminds me of Marian Hossa in three ways:
1 - he has a tremendous pace, knowing when to speed by someone, or slow it down and wait for help.
B - He also is strong on his stick, rarely losing the puck when he has it or getting knocked down.
III - He seems to know where everyone is on the ice, including the other team.
Enough rambling. Step 1 is easily accomplished by Eriksson here with good positioning, as he jumps on the loose puck before the Sabres defenseman can get it out of his feet.
Step 2 of the play is where Eriksson uses his pacing and doesn’t rush the play. He realizes he has enough time and space to glide to the boards.
Step 3; that pass. Ooooh, that pass. Eriksson sees a Man in Black out of the corner of his eye, and has the smarts to know that he can pick up his head and make sure the teammate rushing in is uncovered.
Pass is in Blue, Miller's path in Red
Step 4 is the much-maligned, (and rightly so) Kevan Miller making a nice offensive play, rotating down to where Eriksson came from and left open ice. But not only does he get himself into good positioning, he also makes a smart shot.
What do I mean by smart shot? Isn’t every shot a smart shot in hockey with the likes of Corsi, Fenwick, and so on? Let’s make an analogy using baseball; is it easier to hit a 101 Aroldis Chapman fastball high and outside, or an 80 mph meatball in your sweet spot? I’ll take meatballs every day. My cholesterol can attest to that. Since Miller’s shot is on the ice, it allows Matt Beleskey and David Krejci to get set up in front of Chad Johnson, get their sticks in perfect position to tip the puck, and complete...
Step 5: The goal. Go ahead and re-watch the gif, this time, focusing on Beleskey. This is a guy who knows where his bread is buttered; here, he could have drifted wide here, giving Eriksson an outlet on the half-boards, but that’s not his game. He parks his ass in front and staves off a half-hearted check from Zach Bogosian.
And that’s all for this iteration of the Bruins Play of the Year of the Week So Far (™).
Just don't remind me of the final score.