31 January 2012

Some things I learned from M2 Hockey videos

I learned a lot from watching Hockeyshare's YouTube video channel.  They have a lot of great drills which are actually demonstrated on the ice.  I also really liked their tips on general tactics like breakouts and defense.  Here are some things I learned:


Backwards quick starts

You do two quick crossovers.  Do one crossover, followed by another crossover in the opposite direction.  This evens out your direction.

Forward stride

Make sure you flick your toe at the end of the stride.  If you don't do this, you'll lose a lot of power.


Forehand passing & receiving 101

Pass with the puck in the middle of the blade. You don't want the puck on the heel, because it will be prone to elevation (like in a saucer pass). With the puck on your blade, push your arms forward in a straight line, roll your wrists, and point the toe of the stick towards your target. While you catch the pass, you should be looking for the next target where you'll be passing.

When receiving the pass, don't bring the puck too far back. You want to finish receiving the pass so you are in a good position to make your next move. After you receive the puck, avoid stickhandling. Each "stickhandle" costs you a half second.


One timers

Typically, you want to receive puck somewhere between middle of stance to back foot. Drop your body and get low. Pro players often "sit" down or even go down on one knee for the one timer. For a "slap" type one timer, you are relying on the flex of the stick to generate power. In game situations, you don't usually get the puck in your favorite place. The puck may come slightly in front of you or slightly behind you. You need to learn how to adjust your position on the ice.

Shooting from a D to D pass

Don't take the shot if you don't have a lane. Nothing is worse than our shot hitting a shin pad and causing an odd man rush the other way.

Catch the pass in front of you by stopping the puck right off your outside foot. Then turn your body, open up your body, and immediately step into the shot. Don't stickhandle. Try to do this sequence of motions as quickly as possible so you get the shot off quickly and avoid hitting any traffic.


Strong-side breakout fundamentals 

There are three options for strong-side wings breaking out:
  1. Post up at the hash marks and jam your skate against the wall. Position your outer skate so that when the puck bounces off your skate, it will be directed to a good position. Open up your body a bit so that you can accelerate when you catch the pass. Your skates should be in an upside down V position. You don't want to face the defensive zone straight on, because that is a difficult position to accelerate out of.
  2. Skate forwards towards the net, then transition to backwards, and curl towards the boards.  As you transition, sneak a look back at the ice to see where everyone is.  You are facing the defensive zone, looking for a pass. Open up your body for a pass near the hash marks.
  3. Skate forwards towards the net, make a hockey turn towards the boards, and accelerate up the ice, looking for the pass. Only do this when you are confident there is no pressure or when you're on the powerplay.
Receiving a breakout pass

You have four options when receiving a breakout pass:
  1. Pass back to defensemen or pass up to another forward.
  2. Skate the puck after receiving the pass. Preferably you'd like to catch the pass with speed. You can do this by skating down towards the defensive zone and transitioning. Make two hard steps and look to make a play.
  3. Chip the puck off the boards out of the defensive zone.  Don't chip the puck towards the defenseman.  Bank the puck off the boards at an angle so it goes around the defenseman.  If you're playing on your strong side, shovel the puck up with your backhand.  Otherwise, you can lift the puck with your forehand.
  4. Eat the puck. If you get the puck and can't make a play, jam the puck up against the boards with your stick and protect the puck with your body.
Always sneak a look to see where everyone is before you catch the pass.

Some tips on receiving a hard pass wrapping around the boards.  Jam your skates up against the boards.  Don't put your heels perpendicular to the boards.  Stand with your skates making an upside down V.  The skate closer to the net will be positioned to allow the skate to bounce out towards your stick.  Your body will be slightly opened up so that you can get a good quick start.


Offensive escape move

If you're a forward skating down the ice with the puck into the offensive zone and you don't see a play, you can curl around towards the boards. This slows down the play and gives you time to look for more options.

Attacking the point

This is about how to pressure the point when you're a defensive forward.  You'll either be on the boards as the strong side winger or in the high slot as the weak side winger.  If you're coming from the high slot, angle  the point towards the boards, away from the middle.  If you're coming from the boards, you want to curl around to push the point towards the boards.  This isn't always possible.  In that case, put direct pressure on the point by skating straight at them.  Don't follow the path of the defenseman.  Take the straight line path.

To block the shot, you need to put your body between the puck and the net.  Don't skate up with your body to the side and stick in the shooting lane.

Attacking the low seam

The low seam is the goal line in the attacking zone.

In this situation, you are at the hash marks.  (You might be catching the puck off a cycle.)  You skate down the wall over the goal line, then do a hockey turn back toward the goal line, then a second hockey turn toward the net and shoot.  Always protect the puck from the defense, with good body positioning and by keeping the stick and puck wide.  Make sure you accelerate out of each turn, either with a heel drive or a crossover.

(update 7 Oct 2012)


Defensive positioning

Stay between the forward and the net at all times.  If you see a good opportunity, you can try to pin the attacker along the boards.  As the attacker moves, move laterally with them.

Defensive zone pickup

While you are skating back as a defenseman to pickup the puck in the defensive zone, you want to do two things before you even pickup the puck.  First, sneak a look back to see where your forecheck pressure is and where your pass options are.  Decide whether you are going strong side or weak side.  Second, angle your path depending on whether you chose the strong side or the weak side.  Make sure you pick up the puck facing the sides, not the end boards.  If you face the end boards, you won't be able to see incoming players.  When you actually pickup the puck, minimize stickhandling.

If you go strong side, either pass immediately or use a two-touch movement to bring the puck to your forehand and then pass.  Avoid wrapping the puck around the boards.  It's too difficult to control for the wingers.  The amount of time the winger needs to control the puck can be the difference between breaking out and being stuck in the defensive zone.

If you go weak side, your defensive partner should be dropped behind the net for a D-D pass.  Check what hand your partner has.  If his/her blade is next to the boards, you can try a direct pass.  If he/she is the other hand and the net is in the way, you can bounce the puck off the wall.

A last option is an escape move.  You angle your path as if you are going weak side.  Skate all the way to the net, using the net to block forecheckers.  Then hockey turn towards the wall, go up the strong side, and pass a pass quickly.  Try to make the pass right out of the turn. Don't stand flat footed after making the turn.

Defense neutral zone transition options

This discussion covers what to do if there is a loose puck in the neutral zone and you are a defenseman skating back to pick it up.

The first option is a quick D-to-D pass. Your defenseman partner should be positioned 1-2 stick lengths behind the puck. This gives you a good passing line and makes it harder for your opponents to forecheck. After you make the pass, get open as support, in case your defensive partner wants to pass back to you.

A second option, if you have more time, is to skate towards the puck and do a 180 transition, so you face up-ice. This option gives you great vision of the ice, but the puck is in a slightly awkward position. You'll need to pull the puck back towards your body to put it in a good position for passing.

A third option, if you don't have time, is to skate towards the puck, pick it up (protecting the puck with your body), and immediately pass it while you are still facing the defensive zone. If you pick up the puck on your forehand, it's straightforward to make a pass up off your forehand. If you pick up the puck on your backhand, you want to do a hockey turn and lean in, as you do the backhand pass. This will give your backhand pass some strength. You don't want to be in the situation where you are standing stationary and doing a shoveling style, weak backhand pass.

It is essential to make quick passes. The opposing team won't have time to setup their defense. And you'll generate lots of scoring opportunities for your team.

Defense recovery

Suppose you are skating backwards playing defense on a forward. You know you are beat when the forward's shoulder comes in line with your own shoulder. To recover, turn your body and skate towards the net, to cut off the forward's angle. Don't make the mistake of skating towards the forward or following the path of the forward.

Net protection for hockey defensemen

When you take the puck around the net, hug the posts so there is no room for a forward to pressure you on that side. You use the net as a protective barrier.

Defensive Lateral Movement Tips & Drill

This discussion concerns defenseman playing point when their team is in the attacking zone.

If you are trapped on the boards, you want to move laterally towards the center of the ice. As you move towards the middle of the ice, you get a much better shooting angle on the net. You also create space for your forwards. Another option is to move laterally towards the center of the ice, drawing a defender off the boards. You can bait this defender towards you and then bounce the puck off the boards around them to one of your forwards. As you moving laterally, you can keep your feet outside of the blue line as long as the puck stays in the offensive zone. This will give you another 5-6 feet of room to make a play.

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