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Small Plays

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Small Plays

Keith's 'Small Play' changes course of Game 6

Wednesday, 06.26.2013 / 11:43 AM / Small Plays

NHL.com

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 Stanley Cup Final between the Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins.

Keith's short pass sets up the equalizer: The moment was desperate. The Chicago Blackhawks were 76 seconds away from having to fly back home and play a winner-take-all Game 7 on a night they could have closed out the series and lifted the Stanley Cup. As the Boston Bruins clung to a 2-1 lead in the final moments, the Blackhawks scrambled to put the puck on net as Jonathan Toews jostled in the corner with Boston's Dennis Seidenberg and David Krejci. The puck slip up the halfboards to Chicago defenseman Duncan Keith, who deposited a quick pass back to Toews at the side of the net. Toews then dished the puck in front to Bryan Bickell, who beat Boston's Tuukka Rask to tie the game. Just 17 seconds later Chicago put another one past the stunned Bruins en route to their second Stanley Cup title in four years, a title that would have been in doubt were it not for the quick, smart passing of Keith.

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Falling dominoes set up 'Small Play' for Bruins

Wednesday, 06.19.2013 / 5:58 PM / Small Plays

NHL.com

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 3 of the Stanley Cup Final between the Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins.

Kelly sets off chain reaction: In the National Hockey League goals are rarely isolated incidents. Typically there is a process or a series of events that leads to a score, and in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final the series of events that broke a scoreless tie early in the second period was the result of several small plays by the Bruins. First forward Chris Kelly applied the forecheck on Blackhawks defenseman Michal Rozsival behind the Chicago net, forcing a turnover that went up the boards to Daniel Paille. Paille centered the puck to Tyler Seguin, whose shot was turned aside by Chicago goalie Corey Crawford. As the rubber bounced into the corner Kelly gained position on Blackhawks defenseman Nick Leddy, opening up space for Paille to pick the pocket of Blackhawks forward Dave Bolland, who had recovered the rebound. Paille then put the puck in the net, giving Boston a 1-0 lead and, eventually, the momentum of a 2-1 series edge in the Stanley Cup Final.

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Bickell's 'Small Play' sets up winner in 3OT thriller

Thursday, 06.13.2013 / 6:01 PM / Small Plays

NHL.com

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 1 of the Stanley Cup Final between the Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins.

Bickell shoulders the load: After playing nearly three full overtime periods in Game 1 of the 2013 Stanley Cup Final Wednesday night, the Blackhawks finally won the marathon when a shot by Michal Rozsival deflected off both Dave Bolland and Andrew Shaw and found its way past Boston goalie Tuukka Rask. The puck wouldn't have first found its way to Rozsival, however, were it not for another small play by Blackhawks forward Bryan Bickell. While chasing the puck in the corner of the Bruins' defensive zone, Bickell lowered his shoulder into Boston defenseman Dennis Seidenberg as he tried to gain possession and make a clear. By leveling Seidenberg Bickell sent the puck back to Rozsival, who then took his shot from the point. Were it not for Bickell using the body to knock Seidenberg off the puck, the goal would not have been scored, and Game 1 might not have ended with the same team celebrating.

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Bickell's 'Small Play' sets up Kane's clincher

Tuesday, 06.11.2013 / 11:28 AM / Small Plays

NHL.com

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 5 of the Western Conference Final between the Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings.

Bickell beats Voynov to the wall: Bryan Bickell has played an enormous role in Chicago's run to the 2013 Stanley Cup Final, filling the role of a power forward that brings both size and scoring to the ice. When the Blackhawks clinched a berth in this season's Final, it was Patrick Kane who drew most of the attention, capping his Game 5 hat trick with the winner in double overtime. But that goal would not have happened were it not for Bickell, who beat Kings defenseman Slava Voynov as Voynov attempted to pinch and hold the puck at the blue line. Bickell managed to beat Voynov to the boards and nudge the puck into the neutral zone where it was picked up by Jonathan Toews, setting up the series deciding goal.

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Scuderi's 'Small Play' puts Kings on the board

Thursday, 06.06.2013 / 6:58 PM / Small Plays

NHL.com

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 3 of the Western Conference Final between the Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings.

Scuderi puts it on the tape: With two Stanley Cup championships on his resume, Rob Scuderi knows what it takes to win, but the Kings' defenseman is used to doing it at the other end of the ice, most notably in 2009 when he blocked a puck in the crease for the Pittsburgh Penguins to force a decisive Stanley Cup Final Game 7. On Tuesday, however, Scuderi showed his prowess at the offensive end, taking the puck at the point and making a perfect tape-to-tape pass across the blue line to Slava Voynov, who then found Justin Williams for the first goal of a pivotal Los Angeles win. Were it not for that goal, the Kings might be playing for their season Thursday night, and that goal wouldn't have been possible without Scuderi's deft pass to Voynov.

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Ference's 'Small Play' puts Krejci on the board

Monday, 06.03.2013 / 6:25 PM / Small Plays

NHL.com

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 1 of the Eastern Conference Final between the Boston Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins.

Ference's big drive: The Penguins had outplayed the Bruins for much of Game 1 before the scoreless tie was broken. When it finally was, however, Boston was the team celebrating courtesy of one-timer by David Krejci. The eventual game-winner, it was one of two goals Krejci would have on the night, and while Nathan Horton got the primary assist, it was Andrew Ference who set the stage. Ference had already led the rush up ice after reaching back for a pass from Milan Lucic, but after crossing the blue line and dishing the puck to Horton Ference continued driving toward the net until he stood right next to Penguins goalie Tomas Vokoun as the puck puck went in. Ference's drive pulled Penguins defenseman Douglas Murray toward the crease, which opened a wide swath of ice, giving Horton an open lane to feed Krejci for the score..

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Hjalmarsson's 'Small Play' creates opening goal

Thursday, 05.30.2013 / 6:26 PM / Small Plays

NHL.com

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.

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Irwin's 'Small play' leads to 5-on-3 goal for Sharks

Tuesday, 05.28.2013 / 12:50 PM / Small Plays

NHL.com

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 Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks.

Irwin forces Kopitar into costly penalty: In dire need of a Game 6 victory to keep their season alive, the Sharks got a huge lift in the first period on a small play by rookie defenseman Matt Irwin. San Jose was already operating with the man advantage when Irwin disrupted Anze Kopitar's clear attempt. Irwin approached Kopitar aggressively along the boards, forcing Kopitar to make a quick decision before bracing himself for a collision. Kopitar committed a delay-of-game penalty on the play, putting the Sharks in prime position to open the scoring. With 35 seconds remaining on the ensuing 5-on-3, Joe Pavelski fed Joe Thornton with a perfect seam pass for the game's first goal, which ultimately helped San Jose stay unbeaten this postseason at HP Pavilion and force a Game 7 in Los Angeles. Thornton's goal was the team's League-leading 10th home power-play goal of the playoffs, and it was made possible by Irwin's opportunistic play on Kopitar.

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'Small play' by Neal opens Pens' blowout of Sens

Thursday, 05.23.2013 / 6:01 PM / Small Plays

NHL.com

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 4 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Ottawa Senators.

Neal's reach in the neutral zone opens the door: Pittsburgh and Ottawa were stuck in a 2-2 stalemate early in the second period of Game 4 Wednesday night, with the Senators hoping to tie up the Eastern Conference Semifinal and the Penguins looking to take a commanding 3-1 series lead. As Pittsburgh moved the puck through the neutral zone, James Neal reached forward to chip it over to Kris Letang, who was skating down his right wing. Letang put a shot on net, and while the puck didn't go in, Jarome Iginla was there to pick up the rebound and give the Penguins the lead for good in an eventual 7-3 win. That victory has Pittsburgh one win away from the Eastern Conference Finals, and the go-ahead goal wouldn't have been possible without Neal's chip.

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'Small play' leads to Bruins' OT winner in Game 7

Friday, 05.17.2013 / 2:00 PM / Small Plays

NHL.com

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 7 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins.

Rookie sets up game-winning sequence: The Bruins became the first team to overcome a three-goal, third-period deficit to win a Game 7 in NHL history against the Maple Leafs, and a small play by Dougie Hamilton helped Boston triumph in overtime. Hamilton, 19, patiently controlled the puck in Boston's zone before executing a transition pass to Patrice Bergeron in the neutral zone. Hamilton's perfect feed hit Bergeron in stride, keeping the Leafs off-balance and preventing a line change. Bergeron then scored the overtime winner on the ensuing offensive sequence to complete one of the most improbable comebacks in Stanley Cup Playoff history.

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Quote of the Day

It's pretty crazy, but believe me when I say we didn't draft these players with the mindset we had to because they had good hockey-playing dads. It just turned out that way. But we're certainly glad they're a part of our organization.

— Arizona Coyotes director of amateur scouting Tim Bernhardt regarding the coincidence that six of the organization's top prospects are sons of former NHL players