Sunday, December 5, 2010

Ron Wilson: Coach Of The Year For A Day

I love this goal. As glorious as Nazem Kadri's shootout goal was, I like this one even better. Have a look:

I love the fact that this goal tied the game with under a minute left. I love that Ron Wilson used his time-out and set up a very clever play. I love that 5 forwards - Grabovski, Kulemin, Kessel, MacArthur, and Versteeg - are on the ice.
As they line up for the face-off, Grabbo is taking the draw, MacArthur is to his right by the boards, Kaberle at the right point, Versteeg at the left point, Kulemin on the inside at the hashmarks and Kessel on the outside in the high-slot.
But then it gets interesting. Grabovski INTENTIONALLY gets himself thrown out the face-off circle.
Kulemin steps forward as if he's going to replace Grabbo...
...but then Kessel calls him off and slips between them to take the draw. Grabbo and Kulemin drop back into position, and when they do...
...Grabbo takes Kulemin's spot on the inside and Kulemin takes Kessel's spot in the high slot. This little switcharoo momentarily confuses Chara and the Bruins right before the draw.

Kessel doesn't get an assist on the goal but he deserves to as he wins the draw cleanly back to Kaberle.
Kaberle gathers the puck at the right point...
...and cruises into the centre of the ice along the blueline...
...and continues all the way over to the left point.

Let's rewind that:
Look where he came from...
...and where he went. Kaberle draws every Bruin over to one side of the ice and rotated the set-up 90 degrees to the left. Now, not only are the Bruins not sure who they should be covering, they're not even sure where they should be.

Just as Kabby has everyone's attention and has them all leaning on the wrong foot...
...he slips the pass over to MacArthur, now manning the right point.
As everyone scrambles from left to right, MacArthur blasts it as hard as he can...
...INTENTIONALLY wide right. As the Bruins continue to scramble to the Leafs right, all of them have their backs turned to Versteeg who's dropped down low on the left.
The puck banks hard off the backboards and comes right to Versteeg.
Thomas is completely out of position and Versteeg reacts quickly and puts the puck in the top corner of the open net. Tie game.

That the Leafs would go on to collect 2 points by winning the shoot-out makes it that much sweeter.

What a great goal to rescue the best team effort we've seen all season. And what a crazy, complicated, cunning and inspired strategy that I have no doubt was entirely orchestrated by Ron "Deep Blue" Wilson (who also made the gutsy decision to throw Nazem Kadri out first-up in the shoot-out). And for once the players finally executed with the necessary precision.

Nice to see a 65+ minute effort from the crew and nice to see Wilson make a difference. Hopefully this is a turning point in our season.

5 comments:

kidkawartha said...

Despite my having to admit you may, repeat may, being projecting here a bit, your analysis is making me sport a wicked smile, general.

Navin Vaswani (@eyebleaf) said...

I'd love to believe Grabovski intentionally got himself thrown out of the faceoff. And I'd love to believe that MacArthur intentionally shot the puck wide from the point. But this is the Leafs we're talking about, and there's no way they're that smart. Toronto got lucky. Finally. Let's be honest: They were due. Great goal, great comeback, GREAT save by Thomas on Beauchemin. Most importantly: Great game.

general borschevsky said...

@kidk and eyebleaf: Okay, okay. I was just tryin' to have a little fun. Was it brilliant coaching or just luck? We haven't had a lot of either lately so it's easy to get them confused. Unless somebody proves otherwise I'm gonna believe Wilson's cunning and unnecessarily complicated plan involved Grabbo getting tossed and MacArthur shooting wide.

Cheers!

Markus said...

Great post, but I have no doubt that Clarkie shot wide on purpose. Chalking it up to total flukery doesn't give the Leafs enough credit.

We all know that the bank off the boards is a legit play that every team practises. How successful it is is a different story, but nevertheless ... Now, the fact that it came off at a perfect angle is a little bit of being smiled on by the hockey gods. But it's long past due.

peace!

general borschevsky said...

Cheers Markus! Again, whether it's coaching or luck, it's nice to have either make a positive difference for the Leafs.