Jamie Benn is not yet a finished work of a hockey player, but he's certainly on his way. The young Dallas Stars center completely dismantled an entire professional hockey team on Tuesday night in Columbus, Ohio, and thank God the television cameras were allowed to capture this one.
I've probably watched this goal 19 times this morning. I cannot get over it.
Let's first think about how this goal starts. Benn had just been on the ice 51 seconds earlier for a shift, and when he stepped off the bench, he found himself in the middle of a line change. Just attempting to get the puck up ice so they could get to the bench, Adam Burish passed over to Radek Dvorak, who just threw the puck up the boards in the vicinity of Benn.
Then, the magic happened. Benn knocked the puck out of mid-air and corralled it while the rest of his line was still on the bench. He found himself completely isolated in a box, surrounded by four Blue Jackets defenders and seemingly with no place to go.
Ut oh, what now? A quick spin towards the boards after a check from Columbus defenseman Kris Russell put Benn in even more of a precarious position, as both Rick Nash and Alexandre Giroux closed on him as well. Seemed inescapable, really.
You'll notice here that the rest of his line was still on the bench, nowhere to be found. One guy was launching himself out of the bench door while Alex Goligoski, a defenseman, was the only Star on Benn's side of the red line.
Usually players just chip the puck in and chase here, allowing linemates to catch up before going on the attack. Not Jamie Benn. You'll notice that when Benn spun to the boards, the puck actually got away from him. There's really no reason why he should have been able to regain control of the puck, especially with three Blue Jackets right on top of him.
But due partially to being unbelievable and partially due to a horrible defensive play by Derick Brassard, Benn was able to skate right by Brassard, who had jumped back on defense to cover for Russell, the defenseman that over-committed on the initial body contact on Benn.
From there, Benn pushed the puck towards the center of the ice, and after being checked by Nash, there was still no reason why Benn should have been able to get that puck. It's really quite a simple fix, but that shows a) how bad the Blue Jackets were at executing anything that could be considered defense on the play and b) how much speed Benn created in just a little amount of space.
In fact, the puck got so far out of Benn's control here that defenseman Aaron Johnson had quite possibly one of the most straight-forward clearing attempts in the game sitting right on his stick...
... and yet, he didn't clear it. That's the truly incredible part of this play. Benn's outstretched stick actually blocked Johnson's clearing attempt, swatting it right back behind the Jackets' defenseman. Benn's momentum then carried him right to the puck, and once Steve Mason poked at the loose disc, there was no doubt what Benn would do with it from there.
Let's not get it wrong here. Jamie Benn scored this goal with a whoooooooole lot of luck on his side, but he also created a lot of that luck for himself with the hard work he put in on the play. The spin move, the speed and the aggressiveness in pursuit of the puck as opposed five different Blue Jackets on the play.
The Columbus defense may have played a rather large role in this goal on Tuesday night, but Benn deserves as much of the credit as he can get.
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