Braydon Coburn (Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images)
Braydon Coburn won’t exactly be mistaken for Wayne Gretzky, but the Lightning blueliner had a moment of playmaking brilliance Wednesday night when he made a picture-perfect saucer pass for a tap-in goal.
Everyone loves a highlight-reel goal or a huge hit, but there’s something about a great pass — those how-did-he-see-him feeds — that makes it just as spectacular to watch. Wednesday night against the Detroit Red Wings, Tampa Bay blueliner Braydon Coburn made one of those passes.
In the second period of a scoreless game, Coburn pinched down into the Red Wings’ zone to collect a loose puck and took a look over his left shoulder where he spotted J.T. Brown heading to the net. After taking a few more strides to find a passing lane, Coburn threw a perfect — literally, the pass couldn’t have been any better — saucer pass right onto Brown’s tape for a tap-in goal:
From a Red Wings perspective, throw the blame here where you will. Alexey Marchenko likely should have picked up Brown or made a play on the puck, Jonathan Ericsson should have attempted to slow the pass and Petr Mrazek…well, truthfully, there’s really nothing he could have done to stop this.
But that pass by Coburn shows an incredible combination of skill and vision. He made the pass under pressure from Justin Abdelkader and was able to elevate it enough to thread it through five players who were in the puck’s vicinity. Sometimes a play like this can be the result of a happy accident — maybe the puck gets shovelled on net and happens to end up right on an attacking player’s tape for a tap-in. This pass wouldn’t be categorized as such.
It’s not as if Coburn would have been the player to expect this feed from, either. The assist gave him seven helpers on the season and eight points on the campaign. For his career, Coburn has 38 goals and 176 points in 668 games — not exactly a premier playmaker. But for a split second Wednesday night, he channelled his inner Gretzky.