Of the 18 shifts that Keefe put Robertson on the ice for, I counted seven of those shifts as eventful. All of his shifts were short, so it was either something was happening right away or it was just a quick skate and then off again.
I’ll talk about each of the seven shifts that were noteworthy and then give my summary of the game and what I expect moving forward. I’ll time stamp the shifts for reference, just in case you’re as much of a nerd as I am.
14:16 – 1st. He makes a nice zone-exit pass that’s tipped into the offensive zone by Tavares and establishes a forecheck. He then makes a nice touch pass to Tavares on the cycle to extend puck possession. He then comes back and makes a nice defensive puck retrieval at the red line, curls and beats a forechecker with his feet, and makes a nice zone-entry pass to Tavares that leads to a rush chance by Brodie.
This was a very impactful shift that showed good defensive awareness, mobility, and he made quick reads offensively to establish the attack or keep possession.
6:30 – 1st. He spent almost a full minute buried in the defensive zone on this shift. He stayed in structure with good efficient movements, and just patiently stayed committed to defending. Wasn’t overly aggressive and didn’t cheat for pucks. Good details in his play without the puck.
19:16 – 2nd. Stays within range of his defensemen and makes himself available as an outlet option, doesn’t just fly up the ice. Circles back in defensive support at his blueline, gains possession and quickly makes a nice zone-exit pass to spring Nylander for scoring chance off the rush.
Again, Robertson just does a solid job of offering support to his defensemen in the neutral zone. It creates puck possession and it leads to attack opportunities.
14:44 – 2nd. GOAL!! Here, although Tavares and Nylander do all the work, Robertson shows good straight-line speed to get up ice and create a 2-on-1. He skates into the cross-ice pass, pulls the puck in for a quick wrister and beats Demko between the pads. A very quick release while in full stride, a goal scorers’ goal.
Something to note on this goal. Robertson actually pauses to make sure Nylander has possession before he takes off on the attack. He didn’t gamble, he stayed on the right side of the puck until he was sure that he could go, and then just uses his legs to go and get a goal.
11:44 – 2nd. Shows good structure in the defensive zone. His spacing is tight to his D and the net, he activates to get to a puck on the boards, takes a hit and chips the puck out of the zone. Matthews scores 15 seconds later. This is an example of how good defense leads to offense, and this shift could be used in hockey schools. He just makes the correct simple play and lets the rest take care of itself.
4:50 – 2nd. Moves within his defensive structure. Covers for a defenseman, takes a hit to keep possession and exit the defensive zone. He shows a willingness to go body first for pucks and doesn’t shy away from contact.
17:30 – 3rd. He executes a one-timer off a faceoff win by floating to open ice as the high forward and just letting one rip. The shot had some nice velocity and showed good footwork. He also throws a really big hit on Brad Hunt against the boards after a faceoff loss in the Vancouver zone. I had to replay it several times, it’s literally 1 second that is easily missed as the camera goes up ice, and it was probably the best hit the Toronto Maple Leafs threw all game.