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Systems Analyst: Williams’ Wizardry

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Who doesn’t love a good toe-drag-pass-flip-goal?

Jeff knows.
Jamie Kellner

It’s been a rough week for the Carolina Hurricanes. A three-game skid and some questionable personnel choices have raised eyebrows throughout the community, and a road win in their next game against the Coyotes has become an absolute necessity.

BUT! There was a pretty cool thing that happened in game one of this losing streak. Justin Williams and his son Jeff Jeff Skinner linked up for a marvelous goal in the loss to St. Louis last Friday.

If there was ever a goal worth dissecting, it’s this one.

A turnover starts things off going the other way. Vince Dunn strips Jeff Skinner and finds Alexander Steen in the neutral zone before going off for a change.

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The Canes have three guys back, this was never a high-danger chance against. It was likely meant to be a chip play to get the puck deep, but Steen never saw Williams coming. (Related: if Williams was a hitter, this could have been an ugly play.)

With half the Blues’ players going off for a change and Skinner lingering around the blue line, Williams can gather a head of steam back towards the St. Louis end on a 2-on-1.

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Williams has a couple of options. Passing early alters the defenseman’s focus and forces the goalie to adjust his angle. Keeping the puck shrouds his intentions and can cause the Blues to second-guess their own actions, if he plays it right.

Good news: he plays it right.

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Selling a shot the entire way, Williams goads Joel Edmundson into dropping to a knee to block a passing lane to...the corner? Notice Carter Hutton’s twitchy right leg too; he’s anticipating a shot from #14, thanks to Williams locking his eyes on net. If he glances at Skinner below the tops of the circles, Hutton likely prepares for a pass.

Still, Edmundson did well to get close to Williams and limit his ability to make a clean play either way, even if both options are still available. It would take some kind of trickery to get a pass across...

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...oh. OH.

Williams drops his eyes at the last second so it’s entirely possible that he aimed to toe-drag Edmundson and shoot on his own, but this works too. Look closely; the puck actually goes through Edmundson’s skate and his knee. Two inches off in either direction, and that puck doesn’t find Skinner.

Plays like this are also why Skinner has been so lethal in his last 40 games or so. Instead of staying high for a one-timer, he drives to the net and picks up the pass before Hutton can get a glove/stick to it.

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A phenomenal solo effort capped off with a determined finish. They may not do this often, but it’s a comfort to see the kind of offense this team is capable of creating.