Constant Player & Puck Movement In Zone
Constant player and puck movement in the offensive zone is something that is catching on in the NHL and other professional leagues around the world. The video clip below is a highlight goal scored from a recent Pittsburgh Penguins game against the Washington Capitals which provides a break down of the principles for the movement of the puck and the players in zone. There are good reasons for deploying this tactic in zone. The movements of the players and the puck are timed and executed based on key principles.
Reasons for Constant Player & Puck Movement in Zone
- Support the offensive team’s ability to retain puck possession and control in zone.
- Create chaos in zone for defenders and make defending more challenging.
- Increase the defenders work rate in zone to defend.
- Exploit zone and man coverage schemes.
- Take advantage of the ice surface in zone (width & depth) to create time and space to make plays.
- Support the puck offensively so the puck carrier always has at least two passing options in zone.
- Advance the puck on net to create quality scoring chances.
- Outnumber defenders in space to work 2 on 1’s, 3 on 2’s, Give & Goes, and other outnumbered advantages.
- Create quality passing and shooting lanes in zone.
- Take advantage of what defenders give the offensive players in zone as a result of the movement.
- Puck recovery down low behind the net – PENS outnumber on the puck 2 against 1 to gain possession & control.
- Crosby F2 moves the puck low to high – outnumbered defensively and no play option for F3 in the slot.
- PENS F1 establishes net zone presence with puck moved up top to the D.
- PENS move the puck up top D to D.
- Crosby and Rust move low – high to outnumber with their D pairing above the hash marks on both sides of the ice.
- Crosby and SSD work a Give & Go Play strong side – Crosby remains up top to cover for D dropping down.
- PENS Rust drives the middle lane to support the puck (PENS D#5) & receives a pass to score on the play.
- PENS Give & Go Play with Rust driving the net creates a 3 on 2 below the hash marks to create the advantage.
Principles of Constant Player & Puck Movement in the Offensive Zone
- Offensive Puck Support – players without the puck must support the puck carrier and provide a minimum of two passing options at all times so the offensive team can retain puck possession & control and advance the puck on net.
- Outnumbering – an offensive and defensive tactic deployed to provide a player advantage in space.
- Use of the Ice Surface (width & depth) – to create offence you need time and space to make plays.
- Player and Puck Movement – the timing of player and puck movement to advance the puck and create time and space to make plays.
- Structured Puck Support – triangulating to support the puck in moving and static situations.
Constant player and puck movement in the offensive zone is part of the strategy and tactics of the game. The players have to understand the thinking behind the tactic to properly execute. The tactic requires players to have strong technical hockey skills and the ability to read and react and be creative to take advantage of what defenders give them.