Defensive Errors in Games 5-10

It’s time to head back to the film room and look at the goal-causing errors that occurred over the last five games. If you don’t remember how this process works then let me refresh your memory. I go over every play where the Hurricanes gave up a goal and determine which players were at fault for the goal being scored. Sometimes it’s due to a forward losing his man in the neutral zone, a defenseman not being able to cover the front of the net or both. Whichever players contributed to the opposing team scoring the goal will be charged with errors. Keep in mind that I’m mainly looking at even strength play here but I will point out if there was an egregious errors on the penalty kill.

When we last left off, Tuomo Ruutu was leading the way with five goal-causing errors. Things were much better for him over the last five games but there was still a lot of ugly hockey played over this time. Let’s take a closer look.

Thomas Vanek goal

This play starts behind the net where Joni Pitkanen attempts to make a pass to Tomas Kaberle along the wall and it goes right past him and to the point where Jordan Leopold (not pictured) retrieves it. This little miscue allows the Sabres possession to continue and I wasn’t completely sure whose fault it was, but a look at the FS-Carolina replay shows it perfectly.

The behind the net view shows that Kaberle is more at fault for this than Pitkanen. He could have kept the puck in but it went right over his stick because he wasn’t quick enough. Now, Pitkanen isn’t completely out of the woods yet because he’s still behind the net while Leopold has it at the point. That’s where we go to the next screen shot.

Kaberle (circled) is still out of position while there are two Sabres around the net but thankfully Jussi Jokinen (arrow) is there to help out but he doesn’t have an ideal position on Derek Roy (#9). We’re not worried about him at the moment, though. What happens here is Leopold sent a quick pass to Thomas Vanek (left side of the net) who fires a one-timer past Ward. The initial call was Roy’s goal because it appeared Ward stopped Vanek’s shot and Roy got the rebound. That wasn’t the case. You could say that Pitkanen should get an error here because he didn’t defend Vanek, but he was playing against a 2-on-1 in front of the net after the miscue by Kaberle and Jokinen is too far away from the net to defend Roy. What I’m sure everyone will agree with is that this whole sequence could have been avoided if the miscue by Kaberle didn’t happen. I’ll defer to the audience to decide if Pitkanen and/or Jokinen should be charged errors, too. 

Players charged with errors: Tomas Kaberle (failed to keep puck in)

Derek Roy goal

Here we see Jay Harrison (top part of the picture) pinching to keep the puck in the Buffalo zone, but the puck ends up going right past him instead which leads to a breakout for the Sabres. The FS-Carolina replay gives us a much better view of this.

Harrison is pinching and the puck a few yards away from him. It’s even worse because there’s no forward to help cover the point so Kaberle has to hustle back to catch up to Drew Stafford, who is streaking into the Carolina zone.

To make things worse, Stafford recognizes that he has another forward coming to help him (Derek Roy) and is already way ahead of Eric Staal in the neutral zone. Now Stafford has the luxury of waiting for Roy to get in the offensive zone before he makes a decision of what to do with the puck.

Stafford puts a shot on net, Ward gives up a rebound and Roy get to it untouched to put the Sabres ahead 2-1.

Players charged with errors: Jay Harrison (bad pinch), Eric Staal (loses man in neutral zone)

Drew Stafford goal

There’s a lot of things going on so bear with me here. First, we’ll start with Tyler Myers chipping the puck into the offensive zone and taking out Joni Pitkanen while he’s at it. Also keep your eye on Drew Stafford (circled in the lower right hand corner) and how no one on the Canes seems to be paying attention to him.

Myers’ chip going off one of the dasher boards and bounces right to the front of the net. Meanwhile, Pitkanen was taken out of the play (he’s there, just lying down) and Stafford (circled) is still present while there are three Canes around him. This shouldn’t be much of a problem for Carolina but none of the forwards defending appear to be awake. Also notice Jay Harrison going behind the net to retrieve the puck. Unfortunately for him, the puck took a goofy bounce and he’s left behind the net while two Sabres are crashing the net.

Myers crashes the net and Ruutu goes to defend him. We also have Drew Stafford (#21) charging towards the net to get the loose puck while Alexei Ponikarovsky isn’t doing anything about him. Pitkanen is just recovering from the hit Myers gave him and Harrison is attempting to cover the net. This has bad written all over it.

Harrison makes no attempt to get in front of the net or get in Stafford’s path and that allows him to score on the rebound. If Harrison did more than just put his stick out there then this chance could have been prevented. He isn’t completely to blame on this play because he was caught in a bad position due to a goofy bounce. Ponikarovsky could have done a much better job at preventing  Stafford from getting to the net and that was the main thing that stuck out to me on this play. Pitkanen is at fault here too from taking himself out of the play. I’m sure he didn’t mean to do it but Myers has about five inches and 12 pounds on him. Learn to pick your battles in a one goal game. 

Players charged with errors: Jay Harrison (bad position, horrible attempt at preventing goal), Alexei Ponikarovsky (terrible back checking), Joni Pitkanen (took himself out of the play)

Carolina only surrendered one goal in the Bruins game and it was on a powerplay so I’m not going to get too into that one. I have a lot to say about the Blues game, though.

Jason Arnott Goal

Here we have a battle for the puck along the boards between Eric Staal and Jamie Langenbrunner. As you can probably guess, Staal loses this battle and Langenbrunner is able to get the puck back to the point. This came after pad save by Cam Ward.

Jackman sends a shot towards the net and it goes off Jamie McBain and right to Jamie Langenbrunner who gets a shot away and it’s stopped by Ward. There’s one glaring defensive error in this play and everyone should be able to detect it. Notice how Jason Arnott is circled and there is an arrow pointing at Eric Staal who should be defending him but he’s still out near the point. Arnott is now all alone in front of the net and I shouldn’t even need to tell you what happens next.

Langenbrunner’s shot produces a rebound and an uncovered Jason Arnott buries it. Staal was way out of position on this play since there were already two players defending the point. McBain was covering Langenbrunner at the time and couldn’t wrap up Arnott either so all arrows point at Staal when it comes to assigning an error on this play. He lost the puck battle along the boards and he let an opposing player get to the net untouched. 

Player charged with error: Eric Staal 2 (lost battle, left man wide open)

David Backes goal

Allen tries to handle a breakout attempt from the Blues but he looses control of the puck. This looks like it will be a disaster but thankfully his partner Tim Gleason backs him up and makes a clearing attempt.

There. All is well….until this happens. 

Gleason’s clearing attempt hits TJ Oshie (top of the picture) and he is able to keep the puck in and get it over to David Backes (#42). 

Backes is able to get a shot off and it doesn’t even get to the net. 

Instead, his shot hits Bryan Allen, effectively taking him out of the play and creating a rebound. Backes is then able to get to the puck and possibly get another shot away. There should be a forward back checking here so everything should be fine, right?

Backes is able to get the puck and effectively beats out a back-checking Brett Sutter to it. Tim Gleason tries to make up for his partner’s injury by blocking the shot but couldn’t get to it in time.

Players charged with errors: Bryan Allen (lost control of puck in his own zone), Tim Gleason (bad clearing attempt), Brett Sutter (weak back-checking)

Matt D’Agostini Goal

I’m sure most of you remember this play well. A lot of people have been blaming Kaberle for his net coverage on this play but something that should be brought up is that there was no other defenseman down low. Tim Gleaosn went to challenge the point (#6 off-screen) which left Kaberle to defend a 2-on-1 by himself. Granted, he could have done a better job at defending Matt D’Agostini but he isn’t fully to blame for this play. Jussi Jokinen (circled) was supposed to provide the support down low but he was late coming to the play and D’Agostini scores a lay-up to win it in OT for St. Louis. 

Players charged with errors: Tim Gleason (out of position), Tomas Kaberle (poor attempt to break-up pass), Jussi Jokinen (did not provide extra support down low)

To the Jets game we go…

Alex Burmistrov PP Goal

The biggest problem I had with this was that Ponikarovsky couldn’t get his stick on the puck before it got back to the point. That and Staal could have done a better job at defending Burmistrov, but the shot came from a weird angle and Boucher gave up a big rebound. It was  PPG so I’m letting it slide for now.

Kyle Wellwood PP Goal

Again, this was a PPG so I’m being more lenient but what caused this goal was both Gleason and Allen falling down in front of the net, which left Wellwood unguarded. Boucher also had trouble getting to a loose puck and Nik Antropov was easily able to get it over to Wellwood for a tap-in.

Jim Slater goal

The Canes are coming off a strong shift, but the Jets are able to survive and are attempting to get the puck out. Tomas Kaberle is the last line of defense to keep it in and he sends a quick shot in and is then checked by Tanner Glass. Kaberle’s keep-in attempt is reterieved by Jimmy Slater, who sends the puck past Kaberle while he is jousting with Glass in the neutral zone.

Kaberle is distracted by Glass and forgets about Slater who has already chipped the puck past him and is skating towards the offensive zone. He gets to the top of the face-off circle and fires a slap-shot past Brian Boucher (which was a goal that he would probably want to have back). You could argue that Boucher should have stopped this but Kaberle’s miscue in the neutral zone is what caused the breakout. 

Player charged with error: Tomas Kaberle (misplay in neutral zone)

Andrew Ladd goal

Blake Wheeler attempts to send a pass to Andrew Ladd (top of the picture) but he’s checked by Tuomo Ruutu and Alexei Ponikarovsky while delivering the pass. It ends up going up in the air and a bouncing puck goes to Ladd anyway. He sends what looks like a harmless shot on net and it ends up beating Boucher after taking a weird bounce. Should I charge an error to anyone on this play? I’m still debating.

Evander Kane goal

This is after Winnipeg defenseman Mark Stuart shot the puck on net that was stopped by Boucher and put behind the net. Nik Antropov and Chad LaRose are now battling for the puck there and this looks like a play that Carolina should have under control. With LaRose taking care of Antropov behind the net, Pitkanen can defend Evander Kane in the slot like he is now. Unfortunately, Pitkanen decides to take a risk that does not pay off for him.

Pitkanen goes to help out his teammate behind the net, which can help the Canes get possession but it also leaves Kane open at the side of the net. It also puts Jamie McBain in a tough position because he is already defending one side of the net and if he leaves his post to defend Kane, there are still two Jets players behind the net and one could easily sneak to the other side. This isn’t the kind of risk you should take in a two-goal game and it ends up costing Pitkanen and the Canes as Kane scores to make it 5-3 Winnipeg. I’m considering giving McBain an error but Pitkanen made this play a lot harder for him than it needed to be.

Player charged with error: Joni Pitkanen (costly decision left Kane alone in front of the net)

From the Ottawa game:

Zenon Konopka goal

Jamie McBain (lower part of the picture) is pinching in while Jesse Winchester (#18) has possession of the puck for Ottawa. You should know that something bad is going to occur after this…

Brett Sutter, the man who is supposed to be guarding the point while McBain is pinching, is able to make a play in the neutral zone but he tips it right to Sergei Gonchar. Realizing that he made a mistake, he attempts to make up for it by checking Gonchar in the neutral zone. The bad part is he did it AFTER Gonchar had gotten his pass away and McBain had not yet gotten back to his position yet. This allows Konopka to streak through the neutral zone untouched with the puck.

Konopka then has Cam Ward dead to rights and is able to fire a shot past him for a goal.

Players charged with errors: Jamie McBain (Bad pinch), Brett Sutter (Terrible decision in neutral zone)

Jason Spezza PP goal

There was one error that stuck out to me here.

Remember how Allen opted for the physical play in the Caps game at the beginning of the month that led to a goal? A similar thing happens here where he opts to check Colin Greening in front of the net while Jason Spezza is circling around and is able to top the loose puck in. Gleason is attempting to corral the puck but couldn’t get to it in time and that also allowed Spezza to circle the net without any trouble. I feel that Allen’s decision making is more at fault here, though.

Player charged with error: Bryan Allen (opted for the more physical play instead of the smarter one)

Here’s this week’s leader board:

Player Errors
Tomas Kaberle 3
Eric Staal 3
Brett Sutter 2
Joni Pitkanen 2
Harrison/Allen/Gleason 2


A rough set of games for Kaberle, that’s for sure. Staal also had a few brutal errors but things were more spread out this week in terms of who screwed up.

Here’s how things look this season.

Player Errors
Tomas Kaberle 6
Eric Staal 5
Tuomo Ruutu 5
Joni Pitkanen 4
Bryan Allen 4

Ruutu had zero errors over the last five games but is still feeling the sting of that brutal start. He has gotten a lot better lately, though. Kaberle leapfrogged him for the lead in this category after another rough stretch this week and Staal is also close behind.