Common Mistakes in DZ Exit Play


As a team you must be able to exit your own end of the rink with relative ease under any circumstances. In the video clip below the defending team turns the puck over to the opponent on a failed 1st pass out of the zone which is a common problem in DZ Play Exit Failure.

Breakdown of the Video

The video below reveals a failure to exit the defensive zone when the defending team has 5 players back in the zone. The pressure forecheck structure is basic:

  • F1 in hard pursuit of the puck carrier pushing the D to the weak side side of the ice surface,
  • F2 drops down low below the goal line weak side to prevent the D from carrying the puck out the weak side and forces a pass in a blocked (stick in lane) passing lane,
  • F1 moves from strong side puck pursuit to weak side to provide 2nd man puck support. F1 recovers the puck, takes the puck behind the net and makes a quality pass to F3 uncovered in the slot,
  • F3 finds a “soft spot” in coverage to receive the pass and scores,
  • The defending team demonstrates a lack of awareness on how to defend against players without the puck getting open in behind them on the puck turnover,
  • The defending group over play the player with the puck and do not cover the player whose the biggest threat to score unfortunately.

DZ Exit Play Basic Fundamentals

  1. Don’t rush or force a pass because there’s no need, don’t panic.
  2. Five players in the zone set a structure to exit that takes advantage of the ice surface (width & depth).
  3. Five players in sync exiting the zone against three defenders should be easy.
  4. Four players without the puck come back deep into the zone to set quality passing lane options for the puck carrier. Quality passing lanes are open and provide a good angle to complete the pass.
  5. Exit the zone when you’re dam ready to exit as a group and support the puck. Not before.
  6. Remain calm.
  7. Communicate with each other.
  8. The players without the puck must be positioned so they’re looking at the puck carrier, stick on the ice to provide a target to receive a pass.
  9. Timing in the execution is critical, exit play works when 5 players are in sync as a group.
  10. You need puck support wide and in middle ice with quality lanes.

Coaching of DZ Exit Play

  • No resistance
  • ADD 1 Forechecker
  • ADD 2nd Forechecker only after exit success rate is 100% after multiple reps
  • ADD 3rd Forechecker only after exit success rate is 100% after multiple reps
  • Coach the fundamentals- it’s all about skill, structure, timing and execution. Execution must be mastered to build 💯 confidence.

Failed Exit Play Defending 

  • Swivel Head
  • Puck recovery mode
  • Man coverages
  • Structure to support puck recovery and defending

Let’s Clean Up The Defensive Zone 

It’s doable, but only if we focus on roles, responsibilities, skills, structured puck support and execution.

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