Anatomy of a Playoff Goal: NJ vs. PHI - Goal 3

I tried, you guys. I really did. I didn't want to break this one down. Honestly. But then I thought of all of you out there waiting to hear me explain how this could happen and I felt that I needed to suck it up, put my own personal feelings aside, and breakdown this goal for the good of the hockey community. What can I say, I'm a saint.

If you haven't seen this one you must not have the internet. And if you don't have the internet, stop looking into your neighbor's window to read this blog. Restraining orders are serious business and are not to be taken lightly. I know we're awesome but nobody likes a peeping Tom. Or a peeping Dario.

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First period, Game 5, the City of Brotherly Love. Playoff wunderkind Danny Briere (#48) is carrying the puck into the Flyers' offensive zone as his linemates change on the fly. AJ's mancrush Adam Larsson (#5) follows closely behind as his defensive partner Andy Greene (#6) takes up a solid position for the Devils. Patrik Elias (#26) is coming over to help out on the backcheck.

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Diminutive Danny has a few solid options here:

  1. Chip it past the D and go get it,
  2. Split the D with his blazing power and speed, or
  3. Drive down the boards.

He goes for option #1, the ol' chip-n-chase, probably since Elias has the speed to close the gap and Greene is in good position to put him into the wall.

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Greene sets what I'd categorize a "soft pick" and Briere goes down like a virgin: awkwardly and complaining.

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Elias swoops toward the net to pick up the now free puck as Dunkin' Donuts aficionado Martin Brodeur sculls out to set up the puck.

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Elias picks up the biscuit (Which is hard to do when Marty has it within reach. I'd hate for Patrik to lose any fingers from dem chompers!). He then curls up the far boards to start the breakout...

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...but that Wayne Simmonds guy (#17) is there applying solid forecheck pressure!

Elias has several options here:

  1. Chip up the boards and out to the neutral zone,
  2. Pass to David Clarkson (#23) who as skating along the blueline after coming off the bench,
  3. Throw a deke on Simmonds and skate it out,
  4. Reverse course and reset behind the net,
  5. Pass back across to Greene,
  6. Shoot at Briere's face as he continues to try and sell his flop,
  7. Pass back to the Hungry Hungry Hippo in the goalie equipment, or
  8. Fire it over the glass for a penalty.

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Elias decides to go with Option #2 as he sends a little sauce to Clarkson.

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The pass is juuuuuuuuust a bit outside Clarkson's reach and the puck slides into the neutral zone.

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Now Clarkson and Philadelphia defenseman Kimmo Timonen (#44) are in a footrace for the puck as it approaches the Flyers' blueline. Timonen has a good angle and speed and should have an easy pick-up. His defensive partner is Braydon Coburn (#5) at the top of the screen. He appears to be stuck in reverse.

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As expected, Timonen wins the race and has a stride on Clarkson while also having the puck on his forehand (facing the boards) . He too has several options, ranging from safe to self-castrating. Let's run those down:

  1. Chip the puck back past Clarkson to James van Riemsdyk (#21) who is just on the left edge of the screencap,
  2. Continue skating into the zone and carry the puck around the net for a pass to his partner,
  3. Flip a back-hand pass to Coburn,
  4. Make a hard wrap around the boards to Coburn,
  5. Pinch toward the boards and wait for help from Jimmy,
  6. Stop on a dime, take the hit from Clarkson, and give Clarkson nine cents change,
  7. Do his Sedin impersonation and fall on the puck in order to buy time for reinforcements and get some Selke consideration,
  8. Pick the puck up and eat it,
  9. Shoot it into the netting,
  10. Shoot it into the stands with the intent to kill a small child in a misguided effort to curb childhood obesity,
  11. Pass the puck slowly back to 2012 Playoff Sieve nominee and noted puck-mishandler Ilya Bryzgalov in net.

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You guessed it, he took #3. Just kidding!!! He totally chose #11! You guys are dumb!

To his credit, Bryz is fucking psyched to get this pass! He's ready, steady, and sittin' on go, bitches! Honestly, someone needs to check Coburn's tranny cuz I seriously think he doesn't know how to skate forward.

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He sets the pass, gets the always-appropriate-for-finesse-stick-handling-maneuvers goal stick ready and weighs his options:

  1. Don't compound Timonen's questionable decision and just throw the puck back into the corner,
  2. Flip the puck back behind his net for either Coburn or Timonen to puck up as they come back,
  3. Fire it high off the glass to JVR,
  4. Stop the puck, sit on it, and claim he lost it in his equipment,
  5. Drop down, cover it and possible get a delay of game warning,
  6. Pick up the puck and try to lodge it in his facemask,
  7. Skate it up the zone ala Patrick Roy while deking a Hall of Famer out of his jock (Note: Not all conditions were appropriate for this option as no Hall of Famers were on the ice AT ALL),
  8. Shoot the puck over the boards for the penalty,
  9. Shoot the puck over the boards and see if he can hit a hot blonde and/or Siberian husky with it (Note: Not all conditions were appropriate for this option as there probably weren't any hot blondes attending the game in Philly. I'm 100% positive there were some dogs in the stands though. The Devils fans have traveled will in these playoffs),
  10. Throw a huMANGous deke on Clarkson, skate the puck past the redline getting called for a penalty and then ask the refs if they can have Marty sign the puck,
  11. Use his stick like a scythe and behead Clarkson,
  12. Use the same stick to commit seppuku because of the dishonor he's suffered in the postseason, or
  13. Wait for Clarkson to close the gap and then try to shoot through/past him.

Once again, I'm sure you noobz thought he was gonna take one of the first couple of options. But a real pro likes to challenge himself when the score is tied in an elimination game so he of course chose #13.

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SHAZAM indeed. The puck hits Clarkson's stick (because why would a forechecker try to use his stick to break up a pass?) and goes to the safest place for official NHL pucks this postseason: the warm, inviting gap between Bryzgalov's legs. It makes complete sense when you think about it. The puck needs a break sometimes and it knows the easiest way to get comforted by the soft, supple hands of a linesman like Steve Miller is to head toward the black five hole beneath the Russian netminder.

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Like a caring mother Bryz looks back to make sure his baby black duckling is tucked safely in the goal. That or he needs some adult undergarments. The areas in yellow circles represent the parts of the arena that have not yet realized the horror of what they've seen (the goal or the need for adult undergarments, take your pick). The green box represents a growth industry for post-traumatic stress disorder treatments.

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Clarkson gets his second game-winning goal of the post-season. Ohh, my bad SPOILER ALERT: That's the game-winner and series clincher, folks.

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The universe nearly collapses under the weight of sportswriters around the world banging away at their keyboards simultaneously as the all pound out SCAPEGOAT but all mysteriously spell it BRYZGALOV.

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Clarkson celebrates with his bros...

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...while Ilya wishes his fallback career as a cosmonaut was still viable.

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