According to Steve Cangialosi during the MSG broadcast of yesterday’s game, Kyle Palmieri joined Stephane Richer, Scott Niedermayer, and Zach Parise as players who scored within the first minute of the New Jersey Devils’ first game of the season. It took just 58 seconds for Palmieri to put the Devils up 1-0 on the Edmonton Oilers. While the opposition tied up the game in the first period, it would be the first of four goals against Cam Talbot in a 5-2 win over Edmonton. What’s more is that the goal was a result of Edmonton failing in their own end and New Jersey making them pay for it. This was the first goal the 2018-19 season for the Devils. As is tradition, let’s break it down and learn that there was a bit more to it than just Palmieri having space and firing a great shot to score.
The Game Situation
- It was 5-on-5 hockey.
- The goal was recorded at 0:58 into the first period.
- Devils on the Ice: #6 Andy Greene; #28 Damon Severson; #9 Taylor Hall; #13 Nico Hischier; #21 The Pride of Montvale, New Jersey, Kyle Palmieri; #1 Keith Kinkaid
- Oilers on the Ice: #25 Darnell Nurse; # 83 Matt Benning; #27 The $7 Million Man, Milan Lucic; #29 The $9 Million Man, Leon Draisaitl; #56 Kailer Yamamoto; #31 Cam Talbot
- Seriously, those are Lucic’s and Draisaitl’s salaries for this season, according to CapFriendly.
The Video of the Goal
From NHL.com, here is the video of the goal from the MSG broadcast.
All screen captures in this breakdown are from this video. Multiple angles are used. Text, shapes, and poorly drawn arrows and lines are from me using Microsoft Paint.
The play starts with a puck being cleared to the left point (the goalie’s left).
Pay attention to where everyone is. Milan Lucic was the closest to the puck but he was not in a position to intercept the puck, which will continue up the near-side boards. Leon Draisaitl was on the edge of the left circle; he was tracking the play while pushing forward at this moment. Kyle Palmieri was behind both of them. On the far left, that blur is Kailer Yamamoto. He turned and started to go forward along with his linemates. Nico Hischer and Darnell Nurse were engaged behind the net. Hischier will get free and forward soon, but not here. Taylor Hall was heading into the slot and Matthew Benning was going to follow him. If nothing else, note that Palmieri is effectively behind three Oilers at this moment.
Damon Severson collected the puck at the point to keep the play onside. With Lucic and Draisaitl headed towards him, he had to make a decision. He does not have a good option here. Andy Greene, his partner, sees him collect the puck but his body is heading out of the zone. While Severson could pass it across to Greene, the Devils would have to reset the attack and get back onside. Severson has no clear passing lane to any of his teammates. I highlighted the three Oilers forwards as they effectively have a momentary wall up. Severson would need an inch-perfect pass to get the puck to Palmieri or Hall. He could fire it around the boards towards Hischier, but he’s got Nurse with him so it would be a gamble at best.
So Severson elects to just fire the puck towards the net and get it away from the oncoming Oilers.
Severson took the longest possible on-side shot for lack of a better option. The cone indicates what he saw. In this screenshot, it appears to me that a shooting attempt was not a bad idea anyway. Hall and Benning are in the slot and could be a screen for Talbot. Hischier has rounded the net and has a step on Nurse, so he would have a chance at any rebound or loose puck around the net. It is not an ideal shot to take in general, but it would not have been a waste.
Lucic and Draisaitl have their sticks out and are focused on Severson firing. Palmieri was still behind them, as they were unaware of #21 in red. Yamamoto may not be as he held up here. He would actually retreat a bit. That would put him in a position to support his team in case Lucic and Draisaitl are caught up high in the zone.
This was about when things were about to go wrong for Edmonton.
Severson’s shot goes high and misses the net. Talbot flung his right arm up as a reaction, but the puck sailed up so it did not do anything. It was not recorded as a shot on net by the scorer - or a missed shot, which is weird. Anyway, the puck hits the glass and will take a fortunate bounce to the right (the goalie’s right) to the far side.
As Severson shot the puck, Lucic and Draisaitl were focused on the defensemen. Lucic kept going forward after the shot. Draisaitl had the presence of mind to realize the play would get behind him. He took this slow, wide turn. As for the third forward, Yamamoto awkwardly slowed up in the high slot to make sure he would not take out Benning, who is still chasing Hall at this moment. As the shot went, Hall turned and will head to the left dot before going towards the left post.
But the real issue here for Edmonton is Palmieri. He stayed behind the Oilers forwards and was able to turn more quickly and tightly. As a result, Yamamoto does not know where Palmieri is and while Draisaitl does know, he cannot do anything about it. Since the puck was going to the far-side, Palmieri and Draisaitl will race for this puck - and Palmieri already has an edge on Draisaitl. Like I said, the issue for the Oilers Hischier will act accordingly and Nurse will follow to his future detriment.
The puck fortunately settles down and traveled along the sideboards. It did not take a weird bounce or a choppy motion. As it was the beginning of the game, the ice was not an issue. Now notice the big red circle. Palmieri was not only ahead of Draisaitl, he also had inside position on him. This was not a “50/50” puck, Palmieri had clear path to take this puck.
Yamamoto recognized this development and headed in their direction to try and help. He was not really hustling to help, though. Given his shift started at 0:39 into the first, I do not think he was gassed less than twenty seconds into his first shift of the season. This adds to the Oilers’ eventual woes.
Hischier was also about to add to them. Nurse was looking at the puck, but he was locked in on Hischier. I suspect that Hischier knew this, so he decided to do something clever. He will slow down and stop in a stride or two. You will see the impact of this shortly.
Elsewhere, Benning has also turned his head and attention to the puck. So did Hall. But Hall was heading towards the left post. While he had inside position, Benning was starting to disengage and head to the top of the crease.
What happens next? Edmonton getting bodied.
Palmieri cut in front of Draisaitl to ensure that he would get this loose puck. This move served another purpose: to delay Draisaitl enough to get ahead of him again. Meanwhile, Hischier is holding up, which effectively blocked out Nurse. While Nurse wants to get towards the puck, he was moving in step with Hischier, his body was leaned in the other way, and the only way he could get around Hischier would be to foul him - which he does not want to do.
Two more developments take place that I still question while writing up this breakdown. First, Yamamoto decided to slow up. I do not know if he was thinking he could be an outlet for Draisaitl in case there is a puck battle. But Yamamoto saw Palmieri get ahead of Draisaitl. Why not go after Palmieri? More importantly, why did not he skate faster? Did he not want to get involved? Was he hesitating while figuring out what to do? Did he second guess himself? Either way, he tried to help and less than a second later, he could not even if he wanted to.
Second, Milan Lucic turned and has now re-entered the defensive zone. He was heading towards the slot. He was also doing so at a rather casual pace. I know Lucic is not a fast player; he could be this slow. Or, perhaps he understood he was far away from the action so he did not need to hustle. This would also add to the Oilers’ woes.
The result of all of this:
Palmieri has the puck and a LOT of space to head towards the middle.
All together: Yamamoto’s lack of hustle on the play and/or indecision effectively took him out of the play. Hischier holding up still maintained Nurse’s attention so Nurse is effectively out of the play. Draisaitl stumbled a bit along the boards after Palmieri cut in front of him. That gave Palmieri even more of a cushion from any back pressure Draisaitl could apply. That’s why he’s thinking “Oh no no no no no no.” Palmieri had a lane towards the net. Despite this being a 5-on-5 situation, three Oilers were just rendered useless. All just after five seconds from Severson collecting the puck at the point.
There are two Oiler skaters who could feasibly do something. Lucic, who recognized that he needed to get to the inside hashmark of the left circle to fill in some of the space Palmieri could take. He was still not moving quickly. Again, I do not know if he could have been quicker or if he is really this slow. The other was Benning. Except he stopped in front of the crease. Yes, he stopped. I understand as a defenseman, protecting above the crease is important. I can understand disengaging from Hall. But in this situation, it would have been better if his feet were moving so he could have skated towards Palmieri. Benning could have possibly taken away Palmieri’s space, forced him to try a move to beat him or force a different shot. Instead, Benning was stationary long enough for Palmieri to push forward.
Now, the puck was not on Palmieri’s stick as he came off the boards. But with no Oiler within a stick’s length of him or the puck, this was not an issue. To more clearly show that, let us look at a different angle.
For what it is worth, Draisaitl did not give up on the play. He chased Palmieri. He had his stick out in front of him for a potential stick check. It did not matter, but there was that. Nurse finally realized what Hischier did to him and was only now turning around at this moment. Lucic arrived at the hashmark, but Palmieri’s angle toward the net was such that Lucic needed to keep going. At least Palmieri could not go to the slot itself - but he was not heading there anyway. Speaking of space, Benning will allow a little more for Palmieri. He went from stationary to moving backward. Hall was behind him, but he did not move fast enough to make it seem like he absolutely needed to cover him. This movement would end up being the final nail in the coffin on this play.
As for Palmieri, he remained in control. He collected the puck on his backhand and will take just one touch. With Lucic where he was at the time and Draisaitl giving chase, he could not delay on what to do with the puck. Thanks to Benning and Talbot, he would not have to.
All Palmieri had to do was put the puck on his forehand and fire. Sorry Lucic and Draisaitl, you were too late in having done little on this play.
I highlighted Talbot’s feet here. Notice that his right skate is outside of the crease and the post. Talbot was following this play. When he saw Palmieri come off the board, Talbot figured there would be a shot. So he set himself up to cover that right post. I mean, he really covered it. He did not cut off the angle too much but he also did not have much time to react. Talbot did not want to be beaten shortside.
But thanks to Benning’s backward motion, Palmieri did not need to do that. That red circle was a spot for him to shoot at since the defender would not be in the way. Imagine that, Benning’s stop at the top of the crease helped lead Palmieri to push forward off the wall and not be in a position to defend him. But if he stayed there or moved closer to Talbot, he could have obscured the part Palmieri would shoot at. By moving back, the shooting lane opened up. Palmieri shot it and scored.
Here is another angle of the shot to really highlight how open this spot was.
Talbot went down in a butterfly as Palmieri took the shot. I assume that is based on his reading of Palmieri’s stickblade and his eyes. It may also be out of practice; I’m not sure if Talbot typically goes down in a butterfly position. Sure, this would have denied most short-side shots and most low ones to the far post. Since Benning moved, there was more space to the top corner for Palmieri to shoot at. It was certainly not an easy shot. Palmieri could have shanked the shot, either leading to a save or missed shot that would have likely careened around the left corner and up the boards. So a lot of credit for this goal does have to go Palmieri’s actual shot. His aim was true. His release was quick. He did not hesitate when he went to his forehand. He did not second guess it. He still had the space to shoot.
This was how Palmieri scored the first goal of the 2018-19 New Jersey Devils season.
Whenever I do a goal breakdown, I realize how much is involved. Live, it looked like Palmieri made a great individual play and Edmonton left him open. Those were true. Palmieri did make a great individual play. He made sure he would get the loose puck from Severson’s missed shot; he took the space Edmonton gave him; and he fired one great shot to the far-post past Cam Talbot. Palmieri making this a success is a 100% true statement.
How Palmieri was able to do this involved more events. The missed shot by Severson was a fortunate break. What was not fortune was the performances of all five Oiler skaters. Nurse stuck with Hischier to a fault. Benning stuck with Hall until he did not and then did not do anything to help the situation after disengaging from the MVP. Yamamoto seemingly had the right idea to help but his execution was so poor. Draisaitl and Lucic committed to Severson and both did not react quickly enough to get back in the play. Lucic went out of the zone, turned, and was slow in coming back. Draisaitl also took a wide turn, got beaten to the loose puck by Palmieri, and was behind the play when the chase began. On TV, it seemed like he had a chance. In reviewing the video, he really did not. Sure, Talbot may have over-committed to defending a short-side shot. But he did not fail to hustle on a play. And Palmieri did have to pick a corner to beat him anyhow - which he did.
I am not in the Edmonton locker room or on their coaching staff. However, I would think this is the sort of play that gets the coaches mad. Again, this was less than 20 seconds from the start of the shift for the forwards and less than 30 seconds for the defensemen for their first shift of the game of the season. I cannot believe fatigue was an issue for the lack of hustle and effort that could have forced Palmieri to do something amazing or deny him a free shot entirely.
- OK, Lucic and Draisaitl committed to Severson and the play went behind them. That happens. What was not OK was how they reacted. Draisaitl turned too wide and got beaten in a race and then bodied up by Palmieri. Lucic either could not or just did not try to make up ground quickly enough to at least get in the way of Palmieri. A faster approach could have made this more difficult for Palmieri.
- Yamamoto recognized he needed to hang back in case the play got behind Lucic and Draisaitl. That was fine. What was not fine was his indecision and lack of hustle to help. He seemingly went over to help, but then he just did not and the play went away from him. Maybe he could not have helped but there was not a lot of effort there.
- It is understandable that Benning leave Hall to defend the top of the crease. It is not understandable to stop, not try and engage, and in fact move back to allow Palmieri to see a clearer shooting lane. Instead of defending, he not-defended on this play.
- I get that Nurse stuck with Hischier. But if he was not going to make a challenge for the loose puck, he could have broken away from him earlier and had himself set up in the circle. Of the five, I think Nurse has the least amount of blame. But he was taken out of the play and that helped Palmieri do what he did.
I suppose it goes to show that a breakdown can happen at any time when there are enough skaters breaking.
As for the Devils, Severson was granted a primary assist. I do not know if I like giving an assist for a high and wide shot just because the goalscorer eventually picked up and took in for a score. I understand why Severson attempted the shot. How it turned out was the real “fortune” on the play. Hall and Hischier moved well off the puck and they influenced what Benning and Nurse did (or did not do), respectively. Still, the goal was Palmieri’s and he deserves the most credit for making this all happen. He quickly turned where Lucic and Draisaitl did not. He beat Draisaitl to the loose puck and cut in front of him to ensure his inside position and delay the Oiler. He took the puck into a wide open right circle, took one touch after collecting it, and fired a great shot to the open far post. It was a great goal to start the game, to start his 2018-19 total (now at 2), and to the start the 2018-19 Devils season.
That is the goal breakdown of the first New Jersey Devils goal of the 2018-19 season and it was a great one for Palmieri and a bad one for the Oilers. What did you learn from this breakdown? Who made the biggest error among the Oilers on this play? Are you now more excited for what Palmieri can do this season based on this (and his second) goal? Please leave your answers and other thoughts on this breakdown of the team’s first goal of the season in the comments. Thank you for reading.