Wednesday, March 02, 2011
This is why you watch.
I wish it was easier to find the game last night. But, these days, sometimes finding a Stars game on the Fox Sports alternate is a battle in itself.
But, once you fight through the search and the late start and the close chances and the blown lead...
Then, you get the payoff.
Last night, it was easy to hang on every last shift of the game; at times very pleased with how solid the team looks and at other times bothered by how pesky and diligent the Coyotes are in sticking with their game plan.
The blown shutout with 3:39 to go and then the blown lead with 0:38 to go just about ruined the evening.
Then, a rather harmless looking sorty from Mike Ribeiro down the middle drew a penalty with 0:13 to play seemed to set things up great in overtime.
Little did I know...
You know, often times in hockey, it takes a little detail to win a game. Just a pebble of sand on the vast beach of 60 minutes. The trouble is you don't know which pebble.
So, as a coach, you are trying to gather as many pebbles as possible so when one reveals itself as the one that will get you the win, you get the reward; 2 points for you and 0 for your opponent.
Throughout a game, you are looking for matchups and strategy ideas that make sense. All season long you practice and scheme for moments like Tuesday Night. You fill the white board with concepts and ideas for that one offensive draw that you want to win and run your play.
And Tuesday Night, it happened.
The Stars had 4 Forwards (Ribeiro, Morrow, Eriksson, and Benn) and new PP QB Alex Goligoski on the point. The idea is to win the faceoff and get a point shot from Benn or Goligoski most likely, but when the puck goes to the corner, you run the alternate idea. Two men (63 and 10) go outnumber the defensemen (33-Aucoin) in the corner and win the puck. Eriksson, the 3rd forward sits at the faceoff dot to either get a 1-timer off, or find the opposite point man streaking down. Because the Coyotes are shorthanded, they cannot cover everyone. Also, they know that all offense with go through Goligoski, so they cheat on him (38-Fiddler) and try to take away the point pass.
So, Aucoin and Morrow are matched up. Ribeiro gets the puck in the corner and 16-Klesla heads to him. Fiddler is cheating on the point pass up the boards, leaving poor 28-Korpikoski to figure out what to do. He decides he has to go to Eriksson, because if he doesn't, everyone knows that Loui is A) a fine scorer and B) in a much more dangerous spot than Benn who sits at the blueline still.
Once the backhanded pass gets to Loui, things happen fast. Korpikoski closes in and Fiddler tries to come from behind. Loui, settles the puck and might be still looking shot at this moment - with 0:07 left.
Now, Jamie Benn uses some subtle genius. As one reader points out, this is Brett Hull's old trick. He would always say the best way to get open is to stay out of the play until the last second. Korpikoski looks over his shoulder at Benn before he goes to Loui to make sure that Benn is not a threat. As soon as he looks away, Benn dive cuts to the crease. Loui barely gets the puck to Benn at the top hash mark and Benn makes no mistake burying the puck.
And there is your dagger. And there is much rejoicing on couches all over North Texas.
A 4-point goal. Right off the dry erase board at training camp. What a stinking beauty.
Was it the goal that put the Stars in the playoffs?