August 23rd, 2014

One Play... Two Perspectives

by WillyDaunic

     What an incredible hockey game last night at Bridgestone Arena- easily the game of the year from an entertainment standpoint.   The Predators dug deep to beat the Detroit Red Wings in OT after withstanding a 3rd period barrage—highlighted by a spectacular jaw dropping goal by Pavel Datsyuk.  

http://video.nhl.com/videocenter/console?hlg=20122013,2,231&navid=sb:highlights

    Datsyuk appeared to skate past 4 Predator defenders, Gnash, 6 Ice-Girls,  3 Catfish, and Vince Gill on his way to beating Pekka Rinne- tying the game 3-3 and setting the stage for Shea Weber’s eventual game winner.

     It was a play that still has the NHL buzzing today.  The NHL.com website has it featured on it’s front page.  When you click on it you can view about a dozen or so other amazing moves by Datsyuk from the past.    This is how it should be—and Detroit’s announcers rightfully celebrate it as they break it down here:

http://video.nhl.com/videocenter/console?hdpid=49&id=203446&lang=en

      But was it a great play by Datsyuk or bad coverage by the Predators?   Depends on your perspective.  It happens in all sports—two sides to every play.   Did a hitter knock one out of the park or did the pitcher hang a curve?   Was it a spectacular ally-oop dunk or did the defensive player fail to communicate and switch a screen?   Was it a tremendous sack by a defensive end or  a missed blocking assignment by the tailback?

      The answer to all of these sports riddles is--- yes.   It’s all of the above.   But the way you react depends on which team you are following.   To Red Wings fans, it’s just the magical Datsyuk chalking up his latest victims.  To the Predators (and probably their coaches)—the reaction is more like  “Where was the defense? How can you just let a guy do that? FOUR guys?  You can’t be serious!”

      Barry Trotz said it well after the game when asked about the play.  “Pavel Datsyuk is a joy to watch… on tape.  He’s not really a joy to play against”.    Trotz did do an admirable job crediting the play of Datsyuk.  On many nights the contrast between the opposing coach’s viewpoints of a key play is striking.  In my experience this is true in hockey more so than in any other sport.  Maybe it’s because in hockey most spectacular goals (goals in general) are scored as a result of a mistake or two somewhere during the chain of events by the opposition.

     The quartet of Preds on Datsyuk’s play (Martin Erat, David Legwand, Jonathan Blum, and Kevin Klein) all probably could have done better in at least forcing Datsyuk to give up the puck  SOMEWHERE during his coast to coast rush.   But they didn’t.  Even Pekka Rinne probably feels as if he could’ve blockered the shot away cleanly and out of trouble.  But he didn’t.  

      Mistakes get made all over the ice by both teams during a hockey game.   Most don’t end up in the net and are forgotten.  Players like Datsyuk force more mistakes than most mortals—and exploit more as well.    It’s easy to focus on the mistakes by “your team”.  I’m sure Red Wings fans (and coaches) have broken down Weber’s OT game winner many times.   Sometimes as an observer, you just have to sit back and credit the opposition.  And yes, it’s a little easier to do when your team lives to tell about it.

-Willy Daunic 

@willyd1025 on twitter

Photo: Yahoo! Sports/AP

Video: NHL.com

      

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