Structure Supports Outnumbering
The easiest play to defend against in hockey is a One on One. Players are taught to play the body not the puck, protect middle ice and stay between their opponent and their net. So, a reasonable strategy should dictate avoiding one on one situations and creating more favourable options for advancing the puck out of tight spaces and on the opponent’s net.
Outnumbering the opponent is an offensive and defensive tactic of the game to provide a player(s) advantage in an area of the ice surface around the puck. Offensively, the ability to create outnumbered situations is necessary to be able to advance the puck on net and in or out of tight or full ice situations. Let’s look at the clip below to examine the outnumbered situations that present themselves through a half wall set up in the offensive zone on a 5 on 4 Power Play advantage.
Whether you’re setting up a Power Play Structure in the offensive zone or setting up Even Strength in the offensive zone, structure is important to being able to isolate on defender(s) to create outnumbered man advantage situations to advance the puck.
In the Power Play clip below the offensive team sets up on the half wall to create the following outnumbered situations:
- 3 on 2 above the hash marks,
- 3 on 2 below the hash marks,
- 2 on 1 and 3 on 1 opportunities above and below the hash marks,
- examine the video to identify the outnumbered opportunities presented from this basic structure.
Ability to Take the Puck to the Net
From this basic structure the offensive team has a number of different options to take the puck to the net to create the best scoring opportunity. The following are options and you may see other options:
- Walk out by F in the down low position,
- Give and Go between player on the half wall and the F in the down low position (2 on 1)
- Down low F takes the puck behind the net for a wrap around or create the option of passing to teammates driving the net from above the puck. There are lots of options to take the puck to the net in outnumbered situations and you likely see others.
Key for creating scoring chances is players without the puck setting passing lane options for the player with the puck and that is done by finding “soft spots” or open ice in tight spaces by moving their feet and isolating on defender(s).