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Building a Smart Hockey Playbook
A great hockey team is only as great as their playbook. Not only must the coach teach the players to work together as a team when running hockey plays, but they also have to know when to run particular plays to try and outwit their opponents. These hockey plays are for when the team is on offense.
Hugging the Boards
First, here’s a basic, commonly executed play called “Up the Boards”. This is classified as a break-out play, since it is used when the team gains possession in the puck and breaks out from the defense zone into the offensive zone.
At the start of the play, one of the defensive players has the puck in the defensive zone. He skates behind the net to lure the other team’s forechecker into the same area. As this occurs, the wing skates to the middle of the faceoff circle on his side, in order to stay as far away from their opponent’s defense as possible. This reduces the risk of interception of the pass by the opponent.
Once the defender with the puck skates out from the net, they pass the puck to the wing who executes a tight turn to skate up the ice. Try to pass the puck forehand as it’s easier to skate with. The wing takes the puck over the blue line, and he is joined by his teammates to take shots on the goal to try and score.
Sometimes in this play the defender passes the puck rapidly in order to send it along the board. While this is a bit riskier, especially when forecheckers are present in the zone, it can prove to be quite effective since it catch the other team by surprise and result in surprise quick breakouts that can lead to success in the offensive zone.
Straight up the Middle
Some hockey plays let the defenders or wings sneak up the boards while others have them charging straight up the middle, such as this play that is adequately named “Up the Center”. This is also a break-out play for when the team gains possession of the puck in the defensive zone.
For this play, one of the defenders takes the puck behind the net. If they are not being closely guarded by a forechecker, then they can proceed with the play. This is great play to run when the other team is changing lines or has made a mistake in their forechecking.
The defender with the puck skates quickly up towards center ice, passing the puck to the center. It is crucial that this pass is short and accurate, as a turn over at this point can be deadly. The center, in turn, rapidly passes it to the nearest winger who takes the puck into the offensive zone.
A variation on the Up the Center play involves cutting out the center’s role in the play, with the defender making a long pass to one of the wingers. Again, accuracy is crucial here to avoid the risk of interception. If all goes well at this point, the winger will often have enough speed to blow past all their opponents for a breakaway rush on the goalie.