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Corey Perry Likes Goals: Scoring Plays

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It took me nine goals into the season to realize Corey Perry is indeed rocking a completely invisible mustache on his face.

kid&sassy

The season is 10 games in for the Anaheim Ducks, and star forward Corey Perry has nine goals in the campaign already. That's pretty good. Following the fight-filled and emotionally charged San Jose Sharks game and going into the road trip against some of the top teams in the Western Conference, we thought it would be a fun time to lighten the mood and drop the scoring charts for all of his goals thus far. (Author's note: this is being prepared and written before the puck drops against the Chicago Blackhawks on October 28.)

In a first for this segment, we thought it would be cool to show the goal locations of each one. I wanted to combine all the full touch charts into one gigantic barfed up chart that showed everything at once but my wife (who draws up all of the charts) threatened to kick me really hard in the shins if I persisted with this thought; I have conceded. This is cool though so a compromise (i.e. my shins are alive and well!) was reached. Here are all of the [approximate] locations of each of his goals. Note that the defensive zone one is an empty netter.

Click to Enlarge

Perry is continuing his trend of scoring mostly in front of the net and/or from in the slot, although his seventh goal of the year is pretty interesting because it is probably the farthest away from goal he's ever scored. He's had about 10 goals total, since 2009-10 (when I can find info), above the face-off circles. This one is much closer to the blue line than any of those. Furthermore, he's potted two goals that are right at the top of his normal range above the dots (goals three and four), but it's too early to read too much into that. (However, I think he's being sent more pucks from all quarters than before, so I'll keep an eye on it.)

Another very interesting trend I'm seeing is his situational scoring. Four of Perry's nine goals thus far are power play goals, which is impressive. It seems as if he's been the trigger more often with the man up than in previous seasons. This is likely due to having played on a unit without someone like Teemu Selanne. Ryan Kesler is a shooter, and while he'll fill the net if given enough chances, he'll be much more of a threat who penalty killers have to cover than a true "at-will" finisher the likes of Perry.

The interesting thing will be seeing how this plays out throughout the year. If Perry continues being the primary outlet for finishing, especially on the PP, he could be looking at another career year in terms of goal scoring. To give you perspective, he has scored 50% of his goals on the PP (since one goal is technically a man down situation and not even strength) so far in 2014-15. In the 2010-11 season, when he scored 50 goals, only about 25% of his goals came on the PP. Most of his production was at evens.

If he produces at any level around or higher than that consistently this season, there is the potential for another four to five goals that could reasonably be added to his year-end total. Perhaps even more!

Without further ado then, the goals themselves. Enjoy!

Perry Goal 1

Here is the chart.

Click to Enlarge

1 Getzlaf collects puck, dumps puck on goal

2 Maroon wins rebound, passes
3 Getzlaf shoots (saved or blocked), opponent attempts to clear rebound
4 Fowler collects puck, regroups, passes
5 Perry dumps puck
6 Maroon forechecks goalie, forces turnover, passes
7 Perry finishes (and crashes into things)

This is an even strength goal. A large majority of the work done on this goal is from Patrick Maroon. Even Ryan Getzlaf's first dump-in, which is on goal, is near-post on the left side, which is Maroon's channel. When Perry gets the puck in the neutral zone, he likewise sends the puck cross-ice to the left side. Both Getzlaf and Perry utilize Maroon's forechecking strength to great effect here, which enabled Perry to sneak in between the collapsing defenders and back checking forwards to cash in on the turnover that was forced.

Perry Goal 2

Here is the chart.

Click to Enlarge

Astute readers (all of you, am I right?) will note that I included this play in last week's post here. For a very detailed break down of it, clicky there, check the first goal discussed, and return to me! But here's a very quick run-down.

1 Vatanen, controlled entry, passes
2 Kesler passes
3 Perry, checked off puck
4 Vatanen recovers, passes
5 Perry passes
6 Kesler shoots wide
7 Getzlaf recovers, passes
8 Maroon passes
9 Vatanen passes
10 Kesler shoots wide
11 Getzlaf recovers, passes
12 Kesler passes
13 Vatanen passes
14 Kesler passes
15 Perry finishes

Once more, this is a goal born from superior puck movement and passing across the entire unit. Perry is the logical finisher considering his positioning near the end of the play, and Kesler links up with him perfectly.

Perry Goal 3

Here is the chart.

Click to Enlarge

1 Gibson leaves puck

2 Vatanen exits zone (controlled), passes (regroup)
3 Kesler re-exits zone (controlled), passes
4 Getzlaf enters zone (controlled), power forward move at symbol shown, shoots (saved/blocked)
5 Getzlaf recovers shot, fights off check, passes
6 Vatanen passes
7 Kesler passes
8 Getzlaf passes
9 Perry finishes

Note that this is another PP goal. If you read last week's post or just returned from reading it from the above link, you'll see the similarities once more: puck movement and shot attempts. Getzlaf's work when gaining the zone was tremendous. Very few NHLers have the power and ability to go through a guy's check. But Getzlaf goes where he wants, when he wants, which is an underrated aspect of his game.

Once Getzlaf recovers his own rebound, he begins a beautiful passing sequence that spreads out the Penguin penalty kill and allows Perry to slink into the slot unmarked. This is another gimme goal for him from that area.

Perry Goal 4

Here is the chart.

This is another PP goal. I'll be interrupting it midway through to point out a very obvious thing the Ducks are doing a lot through the middle to gain the zone with the man advantage.

1 Andersen leaves puck
2 Vatanen exits zone (controlled), passes (back)
3 Getzlaf exits zone (controlled), passes

You notice this too, eh? Vatanen (and Fowler, often) skates the puck into the NZ and drops passes back to Getzlaf or Kesler basically whenever the opportunity exists for them to do so. Both will continue to one side or another as an outlet, but otherwise the Ducks are running the entire NZ transition and break-in play through Getzlaf or Kesler on almost every PP. You'd think this is easily guarded against by opposing teams. Except this is Getzlaf, who goes where he wants, when he wants, or passes the puck really well when he can't. When it is Kesler, he has the creativity and speed to make sound choices as well, so altogether I like this setup. Anyway.

4 Kesler soft dumps (near wall, uncontrolled entry)
5 Kesler retrieves dump-in, hard dumps around glass
6 Vatanen wins 50-50 puck, passes
7 Maroon passes
8 Perry skates into slot, finishes

Kesler was able to switch sides of the ice with his hard-around dump. This relieves pressure and allows more Ducks players to gain the zone and set up play. But without Vatanen's 50-50 win along the wall, play could easily turn the other way. His quick, decisive, and frankly lucky pinch combined with his link play with Maroon turned this into a pretty good look for Perry once he got the puck.

Perry doesn't just finish everyone else's hard work though, he's not just a "poacher" (as we say in soccer). He actually does little things that enable him to shoot at a much better clip than many players. While most skaters will take the puck in this instance and shoot immediately in hopes of surprising the goaltender, Perry skates into the slot more and pushes the puck as far away from him as possible. In today's game, this is a less punishing move to execute than before, but Perry still entered the league at a time when this move was rewarded by a defender or collapsing forward just burying the attacking player. (The old rule in hockey is "don't go into our middle, you'll pay.")

Part of what makes Perry such an enjoyable pest to cheer on is that he'll get buried, or crosschecked repeatedly, or slashed or hooked or punched or shafted, and on the next shift he's back in the same position as before, agitating opposing teams in front of the net. But going back to that stick positioning thing, because I digressed! Most forwards use really light weight sticks so that when they handle the puck in tight space, they can bring it "under them" and stay on top of it. Perry pushes it away and has always done so because, like Getzlaf, he uses a slightly heavier weighted stick. When he releases his shot away from his body, he snaps his stick toward him just enough that it fools goaltenders from tracking it off his stick as quickly.

That paragraph was long, so this one is short (and meaningless).

Perry Goal 5

Here is the chart.

This is technically a three touch, turnover goal that Perry's gifted. But I ran the tape (hah, old school term) back to track Thompson's forechecking route here too, as it forces the turnover that Perry scores on.

1 Jackman wins contested puck battle, dumps (uncontrolled entry)

Wild touches now outlined here:
M1 Wild player retrieves, skates behind net while pursued tightly by Thompson, passes
M2 Wild player attempts centering pass to relieve pressure
M3 Oops!

2 Perry picks up deflected puck and shoots (saved)
3 Thompson recovers puck, passes
4 Perry finishes

A lot that happens in hockey is pure luck. This is that but charted! Despite the sheer fortune that resulted in Perry's goal, two standout plays here were Jackman winning a battle (pre-highlight) in the NZ to get the puck in deep. While the dump-and-chase is generally a shot generation limiter, good luck has a tendency to go the right way when the puck is closer to the opposing goal. Sometimes just getting it there does matter.

Thompson's forecheck was perfect here. He chases his player behind the net and, once clear, doesn't allow him to make a choice first pass. He closes his gap much quicker than I thought he could, which forced the Minnesota Wild player to hit his winger along the wall. The winger in this setup was clearly not expecting or planning to carry the puck out, so he attempts to center. (I'd guess the Wild player who kicks the puck in the middle is actually attempting to one-touch it over to his centerman, who is cheating out of the zone to open up for the winger. The winger had way more time to make a better pass in this instance.)

So remember, despite looking at numbers and reading me on here saying that the dump-and-chase limits shot attempts for, passing up a chance to just put the puck deep when no other play seems evident is not a bad idea either. Who knows, something lucky will occur with the best scorer on the team skating hard toward the net.

Perry Goal 6

Here is the chart.

This is a fun goal I wrote about here. Seven different Ducks touched the puck seven times in route to Perry scoring this on a breakaway.

1 Andersen leaves puck
2 Lovejoy touches, leaves puck
3 Fowler holds, passes
4 Beauchemin passes (controlled exit)
5 Smith-Pelly passes
6 Getzlaf passes (clean entry)
7 Perry finishes

This is just a beautiful, beautiful goal. How good is Getzlaf's and Perry's chemistry at this point?

Perry Goal 7

Here is the chart.

1 Getzlaf face-off loss

2 Getzlaf intercepts breakout, passes
3 Perry finishes

It is rare to see Perry take a one-time slapshot from so far out, but my guess is he knew he'd have a player running through the middle and took a chance. See, Perry once told someone very early in his career, and I wish I had the interview on hand, that he was difficult to defend against (from a goalie viewpoint) because there was no book on him and his shot. Asked why, he said something to the effect of: because I don't know where I'm shooting it either, I just shoot it at the net.

The Ducks operate a pretty aggressive OZ face-off strategy that, win or lose, involves players finding and marking outlets to prevent a clean breakout. The puck took a weird bounce off the wall, so Getzlaf took a big risk to step in front of his man (he should traditionally be staying goal side defensively). Because Perry was likely skating back as the high forward with Getzlaf along the near wall, he was available in the slot with the near side winger circling back into the slot as a screen when the turnover occurred.

Perry Goal 8

Here is the chart.

Click to Enlarge

EXPLOSIONS!!! are things that are happening in front of the net, with the other team trying so hard to score with an extra man. Pretty sure my wife is feeling the PEW PEWs from the Leafs part of the home, so...

1 Beauchemin wins loose puck, passes
2 Perry feels magical, finishes

There's not too much to this goal except that obviously, Andersen was probably doing some standout work in the area of the ice with the pink explosions.

Perry Goal 9

Here is the chart.

This is another PP goal.

1 Gibson leaves puck
2 Fowler passes
3 Getzlaf passes (controlled exit)
4 Vatanen enters zone (controlled), dumps puck
5 Beleskey pushes dump-in along
6 Getzlaf attempts pass (broken up)
7 Fowler retrieves, passes
8 Vatanen enters zone, fakes slapshot, passes
9 Perry finishes after skill move

To some extent, this continues the theme of the Ducks PP exhibiting more puck movement to create opportunities. While this one lacked the lateral movement that spreads out PK boxes, the recovery of the Columbus Blue Jackets clear attempt and re-entry of the zone made up for it some, as the opposition was stretched along the far wall. When Vatanen does enter the zone, he wisely allows players to pressure him, opening up a gap between the forwards and defense for exploitation.

This is why we tracked Perry's movement away from the puck. It aligns with Vatanen's touch at #8. When Sami gets the puck, Perry goes pretty straight into the area along the near side. Because Vatanen fakes a shot and draws people into the lane (puck pressure), Perry ends up with a pretty nice cushion of space. Vatanen hits Perry in stride, the latter of which drives to the net and fakes out the goaltender before depositing the puck on the far side.

Those are all nine goals Perry has scored this season. Aside from the empty netter, half of his goals have come on the PP, which I think is a very good thing. He's shown a consistent ability to produce at EV that I doubt will dip too much this season, so adding even more PP goals should up his total production considerably. That could be a boon to the Ducks offense all year.