Colorado Avalanche: Analysis of Gabriel Landeskog’s Goal

Jan 6, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche left wing Gabriel Landeskog (92) scores the game winning goal during the overtime period against the St. Louis Blues at Pepsi Center. The Avs won 4-3 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 6, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche left wing Gabriel Landeskog (92) scores the game winning goal during the overtime period against the St. Louis Blues at Pepsi Center. The Avs won 4-3 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports /

The Colorado Avalanche beat the St. Louis Blues in overtime. Gabriel Landeskog‘s game-winning goal could have been prevented by the Blues.

Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog needed last night’s goal. Before the game-winning goal in overtime, Landeskog had gone eight games without any goals. He only had one goal in the previous 15 games. So, yes, Gabriel Landeskog desperately needed that goal.

And the St. Louis Blues had it entirely in their power to prevent him from scoring that goal. Indeed, I’d go so far as to say that goal should never have happened. (However, as an Avalanche fan, I’m going to take the W and run!)

For reference, here’s the goal:

Jake Allen

My first thought when watching the play unfold was “What the puck is the goalie doing so far out of his net? Does he think he’s Patrick Roy deking Wayne Gretzky?” My thoughts upon watching replays of the play are “What the puck was Jake Allen doing so far out of his net? Did he think he was Patrick Roy deking Wayne Gretzky?”

In other words, there’s skating out of your crease to cut down a shooter’s angle. There’s skating out of your crease to be aggressive on the puck. There’s going walkabout outside of your crease like Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury is known for doing. And then there’s whatever Jake Allen thought he was doing last night.

I realize Allen was trying to do #2 in the above list — be aggressive on the puck. That makes sense in 3-on-3 overtime because possession is everything. However, that’s the key — possession is everything. If you’re going to be that aggressive on the puck, you’d better have the stickhandling to back it up.

Apparently Jake Allen does not. That, or he doesn’t have the skating ability to play that fast. Either way, check out the 8-second mark in the video — he falls to his knees and whiffs on the puck.

Now, at that point, the play is pretty disastrous but not final. Allen still has his stick in John Mitchell‘s way. And there’s a Blues defenseman hot on Mitchell’s heels. Though the situation is dire for St. Louis, the goal is still preventable at this point.

Let’s move on to that defender.

Kevin Shattenkirk

It’s not entirely clear where Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk is in his shift rotation. It looks like Patrik Beglund has just come onto the ice, and Shattenkirk is pinched in pretty deep in the St. Louis offensive zone. Could be Shattenkirk was on the end of his shift.

I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt because John Mitchell absolutely beats him in the foot race. Mitchell’s not known for being particularly speedy, and Shattenkirk rather is.

You’ll see, though, that they both take off up the ice once it’s clear Avalanche defenseman Francois Beauchemin has possession and will be moving the puck toward the Blues defensive zone. Mitchell flat out beats Shattenkirk to the puck. It’s at that point that Jake Allen whiffs on his poke check.

Nonetheless, Shattenkirk is in pretty good position. Watch the 8-second mark again:

Shattenkirk is moving into position to stand between Mitchell and the goal.

Now, it’s Kevin Shattenkirk’s turn to whiff. Mitchell sees he doesn’t have a clear shot at the goal but that an Avalanche skater — Landeskog, to be exact — has joined the rush. Because, you know, the Colorado Avalanche are a rush team, and that’s what you would expect of any team. Despite that fact, Shattenkirk makes the most desultory of efforts to put his stick in the passing lane, and John Mitchell passes the puck with relative ease to Landeskog.

More from Mile High Sticking

Even at this point the game is not lost for the St. Louis Blues.  Sure, Jake Allen is still picking himself up from literally falling on his face. However, Kevin Shattenkirk is still the closest player on either team to the open net. His butt is almost hovering over the crease. (Ok, it’s a little ways out, but not much.)

Likewise, in spinning to sort of try and prevent the pass, Shattenkirk is facing Landeskog. He sees clearly that Landeskog is wearing an Avalanche logo — ie., they’re not teammates. He should expect that his opponent is going to try and shoot into the gaping net right behind him.

Yet all Shattenkirk does is make another desultory swipe with his stick. Gabriel Landeskog calmly makes one of the easiest goals of his career by nudging the puck into the empty goal. (11-second-mark.) Yet even at that point, the Blues might have been able to prevent the game-winning goal if Shattenkirk had dove to block the shot.

Like I said, I can only conclude that Kevin Shattenkirk was gassed. True, he might have missed the puck the way Allen did by diving, but why not at least try?

Quick Comparison

“Who got the best of the trade” comparisons never die. Kevin Shattenkirk was once a Colorado Avalanche. The team traded him for defenseman Erik Johnson. (There was more to the trade, but that’s the gist.)

So, let’s just run a quick comparison on that play. First, John Mitchell would have never out-skated Johnson — Erik’s too fast with those long legs, and he doesn’t give up on a play. Secondly, if he’d been in the same position as Shattenkirk with the puck on an opponent’s stick and an empty net behind him, he would absolutely have dove. He’s second on the Colorado Avalanche for blocked shots, and eighth in the entire NHL for that category.

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Who knows — a goal like that might have gotten past Johnson as well. Nonetheless, let’s just be grateful that Gabriel Landeskog scored that much-needed game-winning goal.