The Carolina Hurricanes are not a team known for grinding in the corners or in front of the net. At least, not in the offensive zone. And yet, Elias Lindholm scored a power-play goal the other night against the Philadelphia Flyers by winning a battle and parking himself in prime scoring territory with a man-advantage. Imagine that.
Ironically, it’s not a play the Canes should look to replicate — more on that below — but it does give them a walkthrough on how to play in and around the crease.
We’ll begin as Teuvo Teravainen initially picks the puck up off the boards and surveys his options.
It’s important to note here that the penalty being killed by the Flyers is a double-minor, and this unit has been on the ice for basically the full two minutes and then some at this point, hence the lack of movement. With no teammates really opening up and no opponents bearing down, Teravainen just sits and waits for someone to do something. Obviously, he could skate with it. But if no one is on you, why bother?
Finally, Lindholm presents himself as somewhat of an option.
This is excellent work in front of the net from Lindholm — note how he establishes body position on defenseman Robert Hagg and braces himself to ensure that he won’t be moved easily — but this is the odd play in this scenario.
You’d like to see this kind of fight in front from the Canes’ forwards when the puck is up high so they can screen the goalie, whereas here, Lindholm is a passing option that requires the most pinpoint of puck placements. To be entirely honest, I was fairly surprised Teravainen didn’t feed Justin Faulk here, given the clear lane and prime shooting area for the blueliner. You can even see Teravainen shift his body positioning once he sees Lindholm present his blade, but he stalls for a second to figure out how to make the play.
It’s not that they shouldn’t try things like this; rather, during a power play is exactly the time to go for a Hail Mary. But it’s remarkable that they struggle so mightily to take away opposing goaltenders’ sightlines on blue line bombs while they show us that they can utterly dominate the slot during plays like this. But I digress.
And of course, you have to account for the fact that Teravainen is really good at hockey.
Like...really, really good. What a pass.
All in all, give Lindholm credit for both making himself available as an option and sticking with his own rebound. And give Teravainen credit for a ridiculous pass literally through a defenseman to a teammate’s tape.
It’s not a go-to play like the one we often see go from Teravainen’s position, to the goal line and then to Staal just left of the slot for a one-timer, and shouldn’t become one — it is a very low probability play, on the whole. But it’s a good example of how to go the front of the net with an actual purpose, and one that the Canes can actually practice to ensure that the execution isn’t just a Lindholm specialty.