What I want to do here is examine each goal that the top goalscorers remaining on the Montreal Canadiens scored last year. I'm going to simplify everything a lot and basically categories each goal as either coming off the rush, or off of a play after the zone was gained by the Habs. I'll also differentiate if the goal is an individual effort or not.
The purpose of this is to see if what we at Eyes on the Prize said last year was true, that players like Plekanec had to do it on their own, whereas someone like Desharnais had a lot of help.
This series will include Tomas Plekanec, Max Pacioretty, Erik Cole, Rene Bourque, David Desharnais and Lars Eller. Basically these are the players who scored more than 15 goals last season, and have a chance to do the same this season.
We start, as always, with Plekanec.
October 9th, 2011: Yannick Weber knocks the puck off of Blake Wheeler's stick in the defensive zone along the boards to a waiting Travis Moen, who centers the puck to Plekanec. Plekanec then goes 1-on-1 with Johnny Oduya, almost loses it in Oduya's skates, but Plekanec uses his superior puck skills to recover and get by him, then shoots over Ondrej Pavalec's blocker side. While Plekanec had some help breaking out of the zone, the actual goal was 100% his own doing. This is a textbook version of what I would call an individual effort, and it was off the rush.
October 15th, 2011: Plekanec and P.K. Subban go back and forth on the point on a 5-on-3 powerplay, then Plekanec tries to set up Brian Gionta at the side of the Colorado Avalanche net. Gionta takes the puck off his skate and tries to set up Desharnais for a backdoor chance, which he didn't see in time. The puck comes back to Plekanec on the right point, he skates into the middle and fires a rocket over Semyon Varlamov's shoulder. Some quick puck movement by Gionta and Subban along with a nice screen by Max Pacioretty means this is not an individual effort, and the goal resulted from a series of zone plays.
October 27th, 2011: Adam McQuaid makes a poor pass through the neutral zone which is picked off by Josh Gorges. Gorges sends a hard pass up the ice to Gionta, which he deftly tips towards the open wing a few feet in front of the Bruins blueline. Plekanec picks up the puck there and gains the zone. He takes a shot that's blocked by McQuaid, but the puck comes right back to him and Tim Thomas can't recover quick enough to stop Plekanec's low shot to the far corner of the net. Due to the speed at which Gorges and Gionta enabled this transition, I can't say that it was an individual effort by Plekanec, but he was definitely off the rush. This was also the game winning goal.
October 29th, 2011: Tyler Seguin turns the puck over to Plekanec with Boston's net empty. Plekanec then evades Dennis Seidenberg and Joe Corvo to gain the Bruins' zone and pot an empty net goal. This was an individual effort, and scored off the rush.
November 19th, 2011: Plekanec, Weber and Erik Cole pass the puck back and forth in a high umbrella like powerplay. Eventually Cole rings a shot off the post, which is recovered by Desharnais, who skates down low and passes it to Pacioretty, who sends it back up to the right point to Cole. Cole attempts to drive the middle to the high slot, but misplays the puck, which goes right to Plekanec and he one times past Henrik Lundqvist. This goal was definitely a zone play, and was not an individual effort.
December 3rd, 2011: Andrei Kostitsyn gains the zone but is muscles off the puck by Brad Richardson. Plekanec recovers the puck and sends it to Weber at the point, who puts it on net right away. The shot is blocked, but Kostitsyn finds the loose puck and sends it to Plekanec on the left side, who easily scores on an open net while Jonathan Bernier is out of position. This goal was not an individual effort, resulting from a setup from a zone play.
December 19th, 2011: Mike Cammalleri forces a turnover by Tyler Seguin, which goes straight to Plekanec. Plekanec rushes up the ice and puts a backhander on Thomas, who makes the stop while Plekanec circles behind the net. The rebound goes into Cammalleri's skates, and as Plekanec comes around the net, Cammalleri sends a backhand pass through three Bruins players, right on to Plekanec's stick for the tap in past Thomas. While they gained the zone on the play, meaning there was a rush in the highlight, this was a zone play more than it was a goal off the rush, the Habs were set up in the zone already. It was not an individual effort.
December 27th, 2011: After a dump in by Hal Gill, Kostitsyn takes control of the puck and sends it up the boards to the right point to Raphael Diaz. Diaz wrists the puck towards the net, which is tipped by Mathieu Darche, then Tomas Plekanec and into the top corner of the Senators net. This goal was not an individual effort, and it was a zone play.
January 14th, 2012: Plekanec takes advantage or Erik Karlsson on a Senators powerplay, knocking the puck loose and outracing him down the ice on a breakaway. Before Karlsson hauls him down, he slips it through Craig Anderson's five-hole for a shortie. This goal was all Plekanec, an individual effort off the rush.
Tomorrow: the rest of Plekanec's goals, and a conclusion about the scoring he did this season.