The Boston Bruins will be on the lookout for ‘The Michigan’ and trick plays when they take on Trevor Zegras and the Anaheim Ducks Monday.
By now, even most people who don’t even follow sports have seen Anaheim Ducks forward Trevor Zegras’ “Michigan pass” to teammate Sonny Milano for a goal in a 2-0 Ducks win over the Buffalo Sabres back on December 7 that went viral. Until then, the play that imitated the famous ‘Michigan’, a lacrosse style goal scored by University of Michigan forward Mike Legg back in 1996, has only been pulled off successfully at the NHL level by Carolina Hurricanes forward Andrei Svechnikov, who did it twice during the 2019-20 NHL regular season. Since Zegras pulled it off on that assist to Milano though, players at all levels, including the NHL are trying it and making it a weapon in their offensive arsenal.
So are the Boston Bruins and NHL teams beginning to or will they defend opposing skaters differently when they park themselves in ‘Gretzky’s Office’ behind the net?
“I think everyone saw it right, so that’s a detail, sort of heat of the moment type play that you hope your D can recognize,” Boston Bruins head coach Bruins Cassidy said Monday morning after the game-day skate. “So, hey if the stopped behind the net, especially in our system, we try not to chase the man behind the net so it’s a play that might be there because of the way we defend and try to push out the other side and keep the guy at the post as opposed to chasing him.”
Cassidy most likely warned of his team’s susceptibility to getting burned by ‘The Michigan’ because they almost did earlier this season in a 5-2 loss to the New York Rangers on Black Friday back in November. Rangers winger Chris Kreider almost pulled it off and if not for a stick side knock by Boston Bruins goalie Linus Ullmark, he would’ve gone viral like Svechnikov and Zegras.
The Boston Bruins head coach thinks teams are more aware of the threat of being burned on trick plays but won’t necessarily strategize against such plays and include them in their game plan.
“Is it changing the way the game’s played and prepared for?” Cassidy asked. “I think more and more players are used to doing that at lower levels and they work on it in practice and try different things so, there’s a little bit more of an appetite for that. Players have the ability to do some unique things. I’m sure you’ll see more and more of those types of plays.
Can everybody do it? No. Is it going to happen every night? I don’t think so because it is a play that if you see coming, I think you should be able to defend it but it’s just as, like I said, a spur-of-the-moment play, quick decision and fast hands and good for [The Ducks], they got a goal out of it, but I still think you’ll see more typical hockey plays from behind the net trying to get pucks into the slot for one-timers. Again, as hockey fans, I think you applaud those plays. Hopefully, we don’t get burned by it.”
For reference if you’ve never seen the original ‘Michigan’, here you go: