Chris Kreider of the Rangers and Pittsburgh's Taylor Chorney battle for the puck in Game 4 of their first-round series Monday. (Gregory Shamus/NHLI via Getty Images)
It seems odd a player would intentionally fire the puck wide of their opponents' net, but Monday in Game 4 of the Penguins/Rangers series, Blueshirts defenseman Marc Staal shot it off the end boards on a ricochet play that worked perfectly: with a goal by teammate Chris Kreider.
With ice in front of their opponents' net so difficult to acquire in the playoffs, NHLers have grown accustomed to deliberately firing the puck wide of the other team's net and off the end boards in the hope it will ricochet out to a teammate in position to tap it home for a goal. In Game 4 of the Pittsburgh Penguins/New York Rangers series Monday, Blueshirts defenseman Marc Staal demonstrated why that approach is an option, setting up teammate Chris Kreider for the visitors' second goal of the night to give them a 2-0 lead.
Staal got the puck at the blueline approximately 11 minutes into the second period in Pittsburgh and quickly shot the puck to the right of Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury. It bounced out right to Kreider, who batted it into the Pens net in the blink of an eye:
With players shot-blocking like their lives depend on it, you can see why a ricochet play is appealing. Maybe the NHL should include the boards as the primary first assist in cases such as this one.