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Systems Analyst: Teravainen Tips One Home

Teravainen earns Systems Analyst honors again, this time with a deflection.

NHL: Anaheim Ducks at Carolina Hurricanes James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

In light of last night’s defeat at the hands of Carey Price the Montreal Canadiens, it seemed more fitting to focus on a play that helped the Carolina Hurricanes win over the Habs last weekend.

Specifically, Teuvo Teravainen scored the go-ahead goal to first stake Carolina’s claim to the two points that were up for grabs. And while he barely made contact with the puck in order to get his name on the score sheet, he won the initial battle to gain control for the home team. More on that in a second.

Obviously, a deflected goal is a highly skilled (and a bit lucky) play. But it took all three forwards and a smart decision from a defenseman to get the puck in the net here. I’ll explain:

Above, we start with the aforementioned battle that Teravainen won to regain possession for the Hurricanes. If you watch some of the replays that show more of the play, you see that Teravainen is able to stick with the puck, despite Alexei Emelin shielding it well.

Once Emelin falls, his last ditch effort is exactly what Teravainen wants: a desperate wrap up the boards to a waiting Hurricane.

Oh look, another puck battle. Elias Lindholm engages with Alex Galchenyuk, and is able to tie up the defender’s stick just long enough to poke it free to Victor Rask, who is in perfect position as a supporting forward. (Remember Aho in last week’s analysis?)

Also, notice how neither Brendan Gallagher nor Shea Weber follow Rask as he goes in to support the play...

...this makes for a confusion of responsibilities for Paul Byron once Rask gets the puck. He is currently well positioned—as a winger, he is charged with keeping Justin Faulk (off the screen just to the right of the Harris Teeter ad) from receiving a pass—but is clearly hesitant about whether to leave his post or not.

Gallagher, in his own hesitance to chase Rask, has left Hainsey just unguarded enough to be the only passing option for Rask, who likely looked to Faulk as his first choice, but saw Byron in the lane.

Just to recap, we’ve had a puck battle (mostly) won down low by Teravainen, great support from Lindholm to seal the boards, and even better support from Rask to collect the puck as it is spat out from their battle. A well-run cycle play like this one, with all three forwards involved and winning battles, can create energy and chances for their team and frustrate their opponent to no end.

Okay, back to the play at hand. Above, Gallagher’s gap to his mark is too wide, and the pass is easily sent through. And as Hainsey receives the puck, notice his feet. His right foot is already pushing off in order to “walk” along the blue line with the puck, putting Gallagher even more behind the play.

Hainsey’s decision upon receiving the puck is absolutely crucial. Look at where Gallagher is versus where the puck is. There’s no way he’s blocking a shot from there.

However, if Hainsey was not preemptive in his push-off with his right foot, the very quick Gallagher does not lose the step that he did on this play and likely gets to Hainsey in time. Walking along the blue line is a great way for a defenseman to buy himself extra time to shoot and to allow for traffic to gather in front of the net.

As 65 releases his shot above, look again at where Gallagher is. He’s gained some of the lost ground back, but has only made it to in front of Hainsey instead of in front of the puck, which allows for a clear lane to the net.

And again, all it took was maybe a stride and a half towards the middle of the ice from Hainsey to get clear of Gallagher’s block attempt. If he receives the pass from Rask flat-footed, he essentially traps himself and would be lucky to get the puck deep once again.

Back down low, Emelin and Weber have left Teravainen untouched as he makes his way to the front of the net. Had either one of them gotten in his way at all, Al Montoya could have seen the shot and simply caught it with no issue.

Teravainen is clearly looking to deflect the puck even though it is coming in fairly high, and based on where Hainsey shot from, actually has a clear chance to make a play on the puck instead of having it hit Weber.

Even though Teravainen was looking for the deflection, he’s actually facing Montoya as he makes contact with the puck. So yeah, he got a bit lucky. But the Montreal defense allowing him to go to the front of the net wholly unscathed is asking for him to make a fantastic play.

On top of that, Weber even inexplicably tries to reach out and block the shot from 5 feet in front of his own net, which is probably the worst idea he could have there. Even if Teravainen did not deflect the puck, Weber’s outstretched glove would surely have distracted Montoya enough to cause a rebound or worse for the Habs.

Also, notice how the Montreal netminder is standing up to make a save on the shot from Hainsey. He was not prepared for any type of deflection at all, given that he was not even leaning towards going into a butterfly stance. So chalk one up for luck and the element of surprise, I suppose.

In the end, both teams added another goal and the Hurricanes beat the Canadiens 3-2. And sure, each goal counts the same. But this one should be special for Hurricanes fans. The work put in by the Carolina forwards shows just how far they have come in terms of chemistry, and the quick thinking from Hainsey to slide inwards before shooting is a fine example of how the veteran is still a mainstay on one of the youngest blue line corps in the League.