Setting Up The Play: Hudler Goal Analysis



Tuesday night’s winning goal was scored by Jiri Hudler and was the direct result of two major breakdowns on the play, and could have major implications down the stretch. Let’s explore it a little, shall we?

As the rush starts, Chris Butler looks to be in pretty good position against Valtteri Filppula. There’s a large buffer, and both players are probably accelerating at the same rate. This is pretty much a perfect situation for the defenseman-he can cut the angle, forcing the player to the middle and slowing him down or he can play him to the outside and take him out of the play single-handedly.

Unfortunately, Butler loses an edge and takes a tumble. I’m not going to blame Butler yet, because this type of thing (losing an edge) happens 5-10 times a game; we just don’t usually notice it. At least it looks like Butler’s trying to poke the puck away here.

Butler recovers, but by this point it’s already too late. Butler’s on his second stride and Filppula’s going full speed-there’s not much the defenseman can do here except for throwing his arms out and hoping for the best.

Even though he’s pursuing, Butler’s out of the play here. Tanguay’s the first man back, so he should be covering the middle of the ice, which he looks like he’s doing. Bouwmeester is now the defenseman with focus. With this type of situation-well, any time the opposing team is breaking into the zone, really-you want to push the play as far away from the net as possible. We should expect Bouwmeester to come from the right side of the ice to the left, taking away Filppula’s lane.

Bouwmeester does his job perfectly. Butler, recognizing this, cuts to the right side of the ice to cover the now-open lane. He should now be covering anyone in that lane.

That’s what not happens, though. Butler, Backlund and Tanguay are all way too deep into the zone to cover a trailing forward and Iginla isn’t aware of his lane. This is one of my biggest pet peeves-when players are reactive instead of proactive regarding a play. Bouwmeester has obviously taken his man out of the play and behind the net. That’s all you can ask him to do there. The other three guys, however, are all reacting to what they think is Kiprusoff freezing the puck on the side of the net. Kiprusoff isn’t in proper position, though-he should be hugging the post here, but for whatever reason he has left a space between his pad and the post, and the puck squirts through towards the middle.

It’s quite clear all three deep men are facing away from the direction of the play and all three have for the most part stopped moving. They’ve taken the save for granted, whereas Hudler obviously has not and is streaking towards the net. Since they’re all facing away from Hudler, it’s unlikely that they’ll be able to redirect their bodies to the way the play is going. Thus, they won’t be able to cover Hudler. It’s also notable that the players’ respective motions are taking them out and away from the slot area, the most dangerous scoring area on the ice.

All 3 and Kiprusoff realize the direction of the play too late, and Hudler has an unimpeded lane. He takes advantage, and the Red Wings score.

Just brutal positional and reactionary plays from everyone on the Flames side here save Bouwmeester. In my opinion, the major breakdown was Kiprusoff not playing his post correctly-Bouwmeester played the streaking Wing in such a way that the only thing Filppula could do was kind of direct it towards the net from a extremely low percentage area. Butler’s fall really has no bearing on the actual goal here, as it should have finished with Kiprusoff freezing the puck. Saying that, though, there’s no excuse for the complacency demonstrated by the forwards and Butler once the puck is past Kiprusoff. The goal was basically a total systematic failure on all levels.

    • I will make you like pants. forced exposure and all that

      @Kent WIlson

      if you want to, but I’d blame tangs and kipper first


      I generally agree with this post.


      jbo did go to that side of the ice.


      the play was dead. kipper let it go through him-the first butler gaffe resulted in a very low percentage play.


      pretty much.



  • Mitch2

    Great article Justin, that is how I read the play as well.

    Kipper makes great saves all the time but the team should be expected to cover for the occasional gaffe on his part.

    I saw his not hugging the post as the genesis of the goal for sure, as you mention, but there is no reason the three Flames player could not have covered for it.

  • jeremywilhelm

    Agreed Justin. The Flames forwards complaceny on that play is unforgivable. I wonder if Sutter even reviews shit like this with his players. And if he does, he should be ripping them a new asshole. This goal was so defendable it is annoying.

  • xeno

    So in other words…

    “Cool, Chris has got this”
    “Oh Crap! He fell! GOGOGOGO!”
    “Phew, Bouw covered him and Mikka’s got it.”
    “Fuck he doesn’t!… well shit.”

  • loudogYYC

    Good breakdown.

    I find it hilarious that Butler is getting ripped to shreds for this play, but there’s hardly any mention of Kiprusoff having horrible position. Hudler should’ve been picked up in the slot, but there’s no way Kiprusoff should have let that pass get through.

    It’s pretty typical of Flames fans though – there’s always a team goat and any goal around him is always his fault. Throw in a fan favorite in Kirpusoff making the biggest mistake of the play and it’s obvious that the goat will take the heat.

  • marty

    good breakdown, i would also like to add

    1)butler was on the ice
    2)tanguay plays defence on the powerplay so he should know how to back check (sarcasm)
    3)Jbo saw his shadow and didn’t want to come to that side of the ice.

  • Butler not only got scared by Hudlers speed and fell down, allowing Hudler to not only gain the zone freely but also allowed Hudler to have an almost unimpeded lane to Kipper, but Butler also allowed Hudler the free wrap around.

    I dont know what game you Butler apologists like JayP are watching. I really dont.

    Blame the goaltender sure, but the play never even happens if Butler doesn’t go keystone cop.

  • SmellOfVictory

    Butler gets ripped on constantly because, when he makes mistakes, they’re always glaring. A guy like Hannan or Sarich makes a defensive mistake and it’s less noticeable (note: Sarich’s offensive mistakes are legendary, however), although often just as dangerous in terms of the overall game.

    I’m a little disappointed in Backlund and Butler, since they’re both better defensively than this (although Butler’s occasional brainfarts are well documented). Not sure how I feel about Tanguay, but Iginla gets a pass because, well, we all know he doesn’t do defence more than about 8% of the time anymore.

  • SmellOfVictory

    Yes, Butler did misread the play, and the forwards did a crappy job covering up for Butler. However, if Kipper is hugging the post, this goal does not happen. Of course though, Kipper has played so well this year, it’s just that if he makes ONE mistake, the Flames can’t recover. Poor Kipper.

  • BobB

    Putting the blame on one person is an oversimplification. Saying the “major breakdown” was Kiprusoff, is as well. Kiprusoff (as all goalies are) is in a reactionary position to Butler’s fall. He has to play Filppula aggressive because Filppula has no pass options. So he comes far out of the crease on what’s a 60/40 play for the shot. +1

    Filppula does the unlikely and drives the post, now saying Kiprusoff should then be hugging the post is ideal but unrealistic (yes, he should be with isolated analysis, but people can’t teleport from A to B). I’m not sure any goalie is covering that real-estate vs Filppula’s speed. Mobility is not one of Kipper’s weak points.

    That shouldn’t matter though because with Kiprusoff playing aggressive in A and JBO covering in A, Filppula drives into a non-chance position B and a 90/10 that he goes around the net.

    Filppula then does the unlikely and tries to bank it off Kipper (cause most goalies will do as they are often taught and butterfly slide back to the post) but Kipper stays on his feet +1, and doesn’t block the pass for fear of kicking it in the net -1 and loses the puck -1.

    Kiprusoff didn’t play that play perfectly, but none of it should have mattered because he and JBO were doing what they are supposed to do – drive Filppula to a non-chance zone. Blaming Kipper for not blocking the pass would be like blaming JBO for not blocking the shot/pass, as it got through them both and they were both covering for Butler.

    From there, the three bone-heads in front of the net just have to eliminate the pass reception, which none of Tanguay, Butler and Backlund do as they were all watching Filppula and not the play. Both Butler and Backlund are positioned to do the same thing – intercept Filppula as he comes around the net…. wrong!

      • BobB

        Do you get that impression because I have a strong understanding of the mechanics of defensive zone coverage, and understand that the point of these exercises are to find the thrust of the systematic failures as opposed to the specific and obvious isolated mistakes?


        Heads on a swivel in front and you don’t get scored on, regardless of Butler’s, Jbo’s, and Kipper’s previous faults.

        Even Shorter:

        Forwards need to backcheck effectively.

        BTW, I actually played Defence and RW through minor hockey.