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  • Writer's pictureRick Traugott

Offense from Below the Goal Line

I have always had a hockey fantasy of having an application similar to NHL18 that would allow me to control all 10 players on the ice, create plays and then capture them to video to show my players how a tactic or system might work. It seems like a simple thing to have but, in reality, it is much more complicated than simply working your Nintendo controller.

Fortunately, Hockey Coach Vision has pretty much created an app that fulfills my hockey wishes and it’s spurred me to get to a project I have wanted to work on for quite some time - creating a video series to compliment my eBooks. (I will write more about the software and apps I use in my “hockey workflow” next week.)

That said, here is my first video demonstrating a behind the net play on the power play (comments are welcome and encouraged! And please don’t be shy!).

Power Play - "Behind the Net" Play

This play is one we used with my high school team in the early 1980’s - even before the era of Gretzky’s office. I was reminded of it as I ran two practices this week (a boys’ Bantam Select team and a girls’ Midget AA team) working specifically on generating offence from behind the goal line.

Starting with a few thoughts about his, I know that a number of NHL teams are having good success with moving the puck from behind the net to shooters in front. If there is a current trend to create offence, this is it. Further to my observation from the tournament I watched in Halifax a few weeks back, moving the puck east-west behind the net when a puck carrier gets “stuck” in the corner will immediately generate some offence from below the goal line.

Here are some compelling reasons to move the puck below the goal line to create offence:

1) It makes the offensive zone bigger. This will give players more room and ultimately more time to make plays and get shots off.

2) In the same vein, it will suck defenders out from the front of the net area back below the goal line to defend, creating even more space and time for developing offence in the zone.

3) Physically, the net can become a great pick/blocker/obstacle. When a puck carrier is chased behind the net by a defender, the net can be used to take him out of the play completely. (This is why I don’t like my players chasing behind the net on the forecheck!)

4) Goalies HATE having to make saves on one-timers from passes from behind the net. It is simply one of the toughest plays for goalies to make. Much has been written about the “Royal Road”, the imaginary line down the middle of the ice. This is the line across which passes are made to create better scoring chances. I would argue that the pass from behind the net to the front of the net can create even better scoring chances.

5) When an offensive player is behind the net with the puck it creates havoc with the defensive zone coverage. Unless the situation is specifically defined as a “what to do if..”, then a puck carrier stopped behind the net will give most defensive zone coverage systems the illusion that it takes two players (one at each post) to cover one player who can’t even score!

Get your players to be comfortable taking the puck behind the net. Do drills that specifically work on passing to the slot from behind the goal line. Find ways to help your shooters beat goalies whose focus moves from a puck carrier behind them to a shooter in front. Work with players to be more effective on a quick wrap around to create scoring. (HINT: You have to get your feet to the goal line to score.) Activate your defencemen into the slot for passes from behind the net. And finally, think about purposely moving the puck to below the goal line on even man rushes (2v2, 3v3).

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