Defensive Errors in Games 1-4

One thing I did over the summer was use David Staples’ “error stat” to rate Carolina defensemen last season. If you need a refresher on what an error is, it’s a defensive gaffe that leads to a goal. I’ve decided to continue using this stat and expand on it a little. Instead of looking at only defensemen, I’ll also be looking at forwards because they can obviously make errors that lead to goals by turning the puck over or failing to back-check. I’m also going to break down the data weekly to see if any players are improving or getting worse when it comes to committing errors that lead to goals. I’ll also include some screenshots since I have access to a lot more data than I did over the summer. Let’s begin, shall we?

I’m mainly looking at 5-on-5 play here because it’s not really fair to penalize a team for a defensive error if they are playing a man down. However, I am taking penalties into consideration with this and if I see a poor example of penalty killing, I will make sure to point it out. We’ll start with Friday’s debacle against the Lightning.

Martin St. Louis Goal

This play starts at the other end where Jeff Skinner is stripped of the puck by Martin St. Louis at Tampa’s blue line. This allows Tampa to get possession and move the puck through the neutral zone, which results in Tampa creating a few scoring chances and then a goal. Trip Tracy noted that Skinner was coming off a long shift and that’s what may have caused this turnover. It was a good play by St. Louis but if you watch the replay, you can tell that Skinner lost control of the puck and may have been better just dumping it in and going off for a change.

The next mistake comes after Steven Stamkos gets a shot on net. The rebound deflects off Ward in front of the net where there are three Hurricanes (Pitkanen, Ruutu and Faulk). The puck is loose for a good three seconds or so and Ruutu even gets a chance to clear the puck, he doesn’t and Stamkos is there to retrieve it instead. This ugly sequence leads to the next play.

After all three Canes failed to clear the puck, Stamkos is able to get the puck over to Martin St. Louis who is standing right at the side of the net with no one around him. You’ll notice that the same three Hurricanes I singled out earlier are standing at one side of the net while Stamkos, Downie and St. Louis are uncovered at the other end. St. Louis gets at least two shots at the puck before he knocks it in for a goal.

Players charged with errors: Jeff Skinner (turnover), Tuomo Ruutu (failed clear), Joni Pitkanen and Justin Faulk (poor net coverage)

Vinny Lecavalier PP goal

This came on a 5-on-3 so I’m not going to break down this play too much. However, I will say that Faulk’s penalty was a bit careless. So was the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty Jussi Jokinen took.

Steve Downie PP Goal

This powerplay came off a bad interference penalty from Eric Staal, so I’m taking that into consideration. As for the play itself, the goal came off a deflection but there’s one part that stands out in my mind throughout the entire sequence….

This is Tim Gleason failing to control the puck as Ryan Shannon is able to chip it past him, get it back to the point where Marc-Andre Bergeron fires a shot that’s tipped in by Steve Downie. The goal was a tad leaky on Ward’s part, as well.

Players charged with errors: Tim Gleason (unable to contain opposing forward)

Adam Hall Goal

Here’s where things get real ugly.

This starts off a lost faceoff where the Lightning are able to get the puck into the Carolina zone, this is where the breakdown occurs. Justin Faulk (top part of your screen) is taken out of the play by Blair Jones, which leaves Tomas Kaberle alone in the defensive zone to defend a 2-on-1 because Staal is outmuscled by Nate Thompson at the faceoff circle and Skinner forgets about Adam Hall who is standing right in front of him. I’m guessing he thought he had support from the defense but that wasn’t the case because of the work Jones did on Faulk.

Kaberle decides to challenge Thompson which is a bad decision because Staal and Skinner are both way behind the play and that leaves Adam Hall all alone and he scores on a breakaway.

Players charged with errors: Jeff Skinner (failed to pick up man), Eric Staal (outworked in neutral zone and is behind play), Tomas Kaberle (poor coverage of 2-on-1). I was considering giving Faulk an error here but him getting laid out in the neutral zone wasn’t completely his fault.

Malone Goal

You can already see that this play isn’t going to end well. It started behind the net where Tuomo Ruutu was chasing Eric Brewer but was unable to force a turnover, which allowed Brwer to get the puck to Teddy Purcell. Ruutu deciding to stay behind the play was real nice, too (that’s his stick in the left part of the picture). Ryan Malone (player on the top part of the screen) has a step on Eric Staal and this leads to an odd-man rush.

Malone still has Staal in his tracks and is able to beat him all the way to the net where Purcell gets him the puck and he beats Ward’s left pad. Bryan Allen also played this poorly as he looks like he is about to block a shot and not defend a pass.

Players charged with errors: Tuomo Ruutu (didn’t back-check, couldn’t contain Brewer), Eric Staal (didn’t pick up Malone in time), Bryan Allen (poor decision to play shot instead of pass)

Let’s move onto the Washington game

Alex Semin Goal

Most of you remember this one well…

The arrow on the left is pointing at Tomas Kaberle who is pinching on a Carolina offensive possession. Because Kaberle is down low, it’s Tuomo Ruutu’s job to get back to the point and play defenseman until Kaberle can get back. Instead, he collides with Alexander Semin, which allows him to get a step on Ruutu. This happens at the worst time because Carolina is unable to control the puck in their own zone and John Carlson is able to send a breakout pass to Alex Semin who is flying into the Canes zone.

I think you know what happens here…

Players charged with errors: Tomas Kaberle (bad pinch), Tuomo Ruutu (unable to cover point)

Jason Chimera goal

A similar breakdown happens here. Kaberle is pinching again but Ruutu is able to get back to the point this time. Unfortunately, this happens right as the Caps get possession and Joel Ward is able to get the puck over to Chimera just as he enters the neutral zone. Ruutu is there so nothing bad should happen right?

Wrong. Chimera is a very good skater and is able to zoom past Ruutu, who looks like he has no idea what happened, and Chimera’s able to score on a breakaway.

Players charged with errors: Tomas Kaberle (bad pinch), Tuomo Ruutu (gets owned by Chimera)

Brooks Laich powerplay goal

I was thinking about letting this one slide because it was a 5-on-3 with one of our better penalty killers (Brandon Sutter) in the box. However, Bryan Allen makes a big mistake here in this sequence that I thought I should point out.

Ovechkin shoots the puck wide of the net (intentionally), which leaves a big rebound and Allen is there to cover the net. Instead of doing that, he elects to knock Mike Green on his ass, which leaves Brooks Laich to get the loose puck and score. Jay Harrison was defending Semin on the other side of the ice, so this falls completely on Allen for a bad decision.

Player charged with error: Bryan Allen (bad decision)

Mike Green PP goal:

It went off Allen’s skate and I’m not sure whether to charge an error for that or not because it was incidental.

Now onto Monday’s matinee against New Jersey

Zach Parise goal

The Devils get possession in the offensive zone and the Canes appear to have a good defense set. Unfortunately, Jeff Skinner (circled) fails to pick up Patrik Elias (arrow on the left) and that allows him to go right into the slot and get a shot on net. You’ll also see Zach Parise on the right charging towards the net but Jay Harrison is also there to defend him.

Parise is able craft his way around Harrison and tip in Elias’ shot for a goal.

Players charged with errors: Jeff Skinner (poor coverage in defensive zone), Jay Harrison (failed to defend Parise)

Mark Fayne Goal

Here we see Eric Staal and Chad LaRose after their failed two-on-one chance. Staal’s shot was weaked by a sprawling Henrik Tallinder and the goaltender Johan Hedberg is able to paddle the puck to Nick Palmieri as he goes the other way with the puck.

We fast forward to when the Devils have the puck in Carolina’s zone. Ilya Kovalchuk had a one-on-one with Joni Pitkanen but he elected to hold the puck and wait for support to come, which is where we are in this picture. He gets the puck over to Mark Fayne who appears to be uncovered as he fires a wrist shot that beats Ward top shelf. Now, Skinner made an effort to get in the way of it and there didn’t appear to be a screen so I wasn’t sure if I should charge an error to anyone on this play. I’ll defer to the readers here. 

Kovalchuk goal

After Ruutu made every effort not to turn the puck over in the neutral zone, Anthony Stewart (player in center) tries to send the puck in but it goes off of Ilya Kovalchuk’s leg which results in the Devils getting possession. Disaster ensues.

There’s a battle for the puck behind the net and there are three Canes (Faulk, Stewart, Pitkanen) present while the Devils only have two. This leaves Ilya Kovalchuk (circled) wide open and heading towards the front of the net. Tuomo Ruutu is also present but he is defending the other side of the ice. As you can probably guess, none of the three Carolina players behind the net are able to get possession of the puck and Jacob Josefson is able to get it to Kovalchuk.

Ruutu does nothing about Kovalchuk and that leaves Justin Faulk to come to the front of the net and do his best to defend him. Kovalchuk gets a shot on net but it is stopped by Ward.

Annnnnnnnnnnd there’s the rebound.

Players charged with errors: Anthony Stewart 2 (turnover, failed to win battle behind net), Joni Pitkanen (failed to win battle behind the net), Tuomo Ruutu (did not pick up Kovalchuk). Debating whether or not to give an error to Faulk here because he at least saw Kovalchuk and tried to defend him but he was a tad late.

Onto last night’s game against the Bruins

Seguin Goal

There isn’t much to say about this excep that Seguin picked his spot perfectly on this shot. I supposed you could argue that McBain could have done a better job to cover him but he forced him outside the faceoff dot when he made the shot.

Players charged with errors: None.

Marchand Goal

The Bruins have a slight advantage here with the extra attacker on, but what happens on this pay is very preventable. Patrice Bergeron sends a cross-ice pass that goes right through Jiri Tlusty, who doesn’t make much of an effort to break it up, and onto the stick of Brad Marchand.

With McBain out of position, Marchand fires a one-timer past Ward, who was a bit slow to get over but it was a quick moving play.

Players charged with errors: Jamie McBain (out of position), Jiri Tlusty (didn’t break up pass)


Error leaders through first four games:

Player Errors
Tuomo Ruutu 5
Jeff Skinner 3
Tomas Kaberle 3
Bryan Allen 2
Anthony Stewart 2

Ruutu has had a very rough start to the year. He hasn’t been producing offensively and a lot of the mistakes he’s making are resulting in goals for the opposing team. Skinner, on the other hand, is producing offensively but he’s giving a lot back in the other end. Faulk could be high on this list but I wasn’t sure whether or not to charge him with errors on a couple plays. No defenseman has been egregiously bad yet but the two pinches Kaberle made in the Washington game were costly. On a positive note, Tim Gleason has only one error and has been seeing the toughest competition from opponents nightly. Not a bad start to the year for him.