Playoff hockey means closer games, tighter checking, and that each mistake is magnified ten fold. Christian Folin tripping up with Eric Staal on the Sobotka goal comes to mind. The Zach Parise save on the goal line is another. However, among all the talk analyzing each goal, Jake Allen’s super-human effort, and missed opportunities, no one is talking about the ghastly turnover that led directly to the first goal of the game scored by Vladimir Sobotka.
Jonas Brodin is a fine defensive defenseman. His decision-making is usually spot-on and he can skate like the wind to cover up most mistakes made either by his defensive partner, or himself. However, a rushed decision and bad execution put his team behind.
Let me set the scene for you. The Wild and Blues are deadlocked in a scoreless tie, and the puck was cleared into the benches from the Wild zone forcing a defensive zone faceoff at 6:14 mark of the second period. Eric Staal’s line was sent out to take the face-off against Jori Lehtera.
Then this happened.
The Wild, which had dominated zone time and the shot counter, had suddenly found itself on the wrong end of the scoreboard.
So what went so horribly wrong?
Staal had won the face-off cleanly. And by “cleanly,” I mean he won it straight back to Jonas Brodin, and Brodin had both time and space with which to work. Except, Brodin skated himself into the corner, and removed options for himself. Meanwhile, both Zach Parise and Nino Niederreiter flied the zone and pulled a number of Blues players with them. Alexander Steen recognized that Brodin put himself into the corner and his likeliest outlet was going to be to send the puck up out off the boards or glass. Steen, rather than trying to chase Niederreiter out of the zone, stayed tight to the boards.
Then Brodin did exactly what Steen wanted him to do.
Brodin, with no one in pursuit of him -all Blues players accounted for - tried a hope-and-a-prayer of a pass off the glass to catch Nino and Parise for a potential rush up ice. Except the puck never gets there.
Instead it’s stopped by Steen and moved directly to Sobotka who saw the puck caught along the wall. Steen makes one play with the stick to move the puck to Sobotka with a clear lane to the net. Staal, who was already engaged in a battle with Lehtera, re-engages him to eliminate him as a passing option. Christian Folin tries to transition over to defend Sobotka coming down the slot, but gets tangled with Staal and trips. To compound the issue, he attempts to get into the play and ends up redirecting the shot from its original trajetory towards’ Dubnyk’s glove side, and instead goes over his right shoulder.
You can blame Folin all you want, but it was Brodin who made the wrong play. He panicked because he put himself in a spot where he was out of options (even though he had plenty of time!) and compounded his error by not executing the outlet pass off the glass properly.