A puck chipped in behind the defensive pairing into the offensive zone (OZ) is a pressure offensive tactic designed to recover the puck and advance the puck on net off the recovery. Teams that execute this tactic effectively include a strategic forecheck that supports puck recovery and structure (triangulate) to advance the puck on net off the recovery.
The forechecking team often use a basic forecheck pattern where they send a forechecker:
- Down the weak side wall into the corner and area below the goal line to prevent the strong side D from a hard rim exit pass,
- On the puck to win the race to the loose puck,
- Down the wall strong side to prevent the D from an exit pass up the wall and also to support puck recovery in the corner.
Teams will make minor variations to the forechecking pattern during the game as necessary.
Every defensemen who has experienced a forechecker pressuring up on them in the race for a loose puck into the strong side corner knows they need help to recover the puck and make a quality play with the puck. Often the support of teammates isn’t in place in a structure that supports puck recovery and clear passing lanes to exit the zone strong side.
A puck chipped in behind the D-pair is a loose puck which is a “pressure” trigger, so why is the only team pressuring up as a group the offensive team?
When the defending team fails to pressure up as a group strong side to support the puck recovery and exit play they end up working twice as hard chasing and defending which is often times more work.
A loose puck is a pressure trigger for both teams not just the offensive team. Too often the response from the defending team is not a pressure response and the result is a lost opportunity to regain puck possession and control and exit the zone efficiently.
Defending players must understand that a pressure response is required to achieve key objectives. The most important objectives:
- Puck recovery to obtain puck possession and control.
- Exit the zone strong side off the puck recovery.
- Create a structure as a defensive group (Five in the Box) that supports 1 & 2.
- Outnumber on the puck to win the puck recovery battle and exit the zone.
- Spend as little time as possible chasing and defending the opponent and winning the puck possession and control game in the defensive zone.
- Win the race to the loose puck.
- Outnumber on the loose puck recovery even if it means putting both defensemen on the puck. The first forward back into the zone can cover the net zone as well as a defensemen.
- Outnumber on the puck recovery battle to ensure recovery, retain puck possession and control and exit ability.
- Effective body, stick, puck play (speed and physicality), no fishing and reaching.
- All players must be in control of their stick and body and be in a strong hockey position in perfect balance.
- Set clean short passing lanes.
- Players skate full speed to their specific spots in the box and stop. Stops and starts in the tight space.
- Quality touch passing and short passing skills in tight space.
- Every player in the box knows their role and how to execute.
- Set the edges and contain the puck recovery battle.
Every team should have a strong side exit play off pucks chipped behind the D pair or off an offensive strategic dump-in recovery play by the opponent. A pressure offensive tactic must be defended with a pressure defensive tactic and response.
You win the puck possession game and you win the hockey game. Teams with the best goals against record spend less time in their own end of the rink defending.
Support you D pairing with a group tactic that takes the pressure off them and provides your team with the ability to recover these pucks and exit the zone strong side, you will be glad you added this ability to your game plan.
Structure is absolutely essential to win the puck possession and control game in all three zones. Players need to know their roles with and without the puck individually and as important as a group.