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Don't blame Dumba for Flyers opening goal

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A closer look at the putrid defensive zone effort that led to the Flyers opening the scoring on Thursday night.

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Unable to watch the first period on Thursday, I missed the Philadelphia Flyers opening goal. Judging by the Twitter reaction, I assumed Mathew Dumba's jock strap was left hanging up there with the Northwest Division Champions banner. After seeing the goal though, all I could think about was how insane it is how people pile on every little defensive mistake this guy makes. Let's dive into the goal and see what went wrong.

The sequence begins with Sean Couturier flipping the puck into the Wild zone from center ice. Michael Raffl is able to speed around Dumba who had jumped at the puck. Raffl is first on the puck by a fair margin and Dumba hustles back to cut off any possibility of a drive to the net by Raffl. Dumba successfully forces Raffl below the goal line. This is where Dumba makes his mistake on the play. When he sees Raffl has no angle to the net, he should slow his speed going into the corner, making it easier to corral Raffl if he decides to make a move. Instead, Dumba goes into the corner with all of the speed he used to cut down Raffl's angle, and Raffl easily fakes out Dumba who, because of his speed going into the corner, is forced to commit to Raffl's deke.

So Raffl has a step on Dumba down low and he heads behind the net. Really, this is not a big deal, guys lose their man down low quite often. It's why defensive systems are built with "layers" in mind. That is, it's ok to need help in the defensive zone because your buddies will rotate in to help out down low. As Raffl goes behind the net, there are four Wild players in the picture defending two Flyers.


Jonas Brodin sees that Dumba has lost his guy, and without another Flyer player anywhere near the net, moves down to cut off any wrap-around attempt by Raffl. Now it only takes a second for this to break down, but hoo-boy does it ever break down. Ryan Carter is the first forward back in the zone, so with Stoll caught deep in the offensive zone, Carter picks up the role of center until there is an opportunity for them to switch positions again. With Brodin rotating down to help Dumba, Carter becomes responsible for the net-front area. Except, Carter decides to.... I don't know. I have no idea what Carter is doing on this play.

Carter even shoulder-checked, looked right at Couturier heading to the front of the net, and decided instead to cut off Raffl's ability to pass to a place where no Flyer player existed. This is what terrible defensive zone coverage looks like:

Watch the game tonight, a Wild defenseman will lose coverage on their man behind the net, another defender will step in to help, the forwards will properly rotate down, and all will be fine. The system is built to allow for small errors like the one Dumba made on this play. Obviously, we would like to see less errors of this sort from Dumba, and he really does need to slow things down in the defensive zone to be able to more easily stay in front of his man. However, no defenseman is going to be effective in his own zone without help from his forwards. You would think with all the time the fourth line spends in their own zone, they would have their coverage figured out by now.