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Small Plays

Hjalmarsson's 'Small Play' creates opening goal

Thursday, 05.30.2013 / 6:26 PM / Small Plays

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Hjalmarsson's 'Small Play' creates opening goal
Visa presents "Small Plays," which looks at the little things during a game that turn into big results.

Visa presents "Small Plays" which looks at the little things during a game that turn into big results. Here is a recent example from Game 6 of the Western Conference Semifinals between the Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings.

Hjalmarsson sees the open lane: With the Blackhawks moving on to the Western Conference Final, Brent Seabrook's overtime game-winner in Game 7 is the goal that will be remembered. Chicago's first goal of the game, however, was a dazzling display of tic-tac-toe passing by Patrick Sharp, Michal Handzus and Marian Hossa. That score will be on postseason highlight reels for years to come, but it wouldn't have happened without a small play by Chicago defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson. After Hjalmarsson outraced Detroit's Johan Franzen for a dump in the Chicago zone, he immediately spun around and, recognizing the Red Wings were in the midst of a change, fired a tape-to-tape pass through an open seam in the neutral zone, hitting Handzus at center ice to start the rush. The Blackhawks' forwards took care of the rest in impressive fashion, but none of it would have been possible without the quick thinking -- and passing -- by Hjalmarsson.

Quote of the Day

I'm just excited about the opportunity. I've been on the ice earlier than usual and in the weight room, pushing around a little more weights than usual. Every day I go into a workout with a smile on my face and ready to go. When you do have a little more responsibility, you want to take your lunch pail and get ready to work.

— Brian Elliott to Jeremy Rutherford of the Post-Dispatch on being the Blues' No. 1 goalie