One of the things I noticed when I started playing rec hockey was that guys really, really liked to play their position.
It’s a generalization of course, but it seemed that for forwards, there were three lanes – left, center and right – and that was the area of ice players occupied. Guys would come off the ice yelling “right side, right side!” and the right winger would jump on to take the other right winger’s place.
In pro hockey you still change for your position, but once you’re out there you’re generally just a forward, with a starting designation on faceoffs, and a lane to cover in your neutral zone defense.
On the forecheck, the first guy on the puck is F1, regardless of his actual designated position.
The second forward in the zone – F2 - will read the play. If F1 got body on the d-man and is in a puck battle, that second guy will try to fish the thing out. If the d-man got solid possession, he’ll take away the strong-side boards. With “keep it out of the middle” drilled into everyone’s head, it’s the most likely place the puck is going.
F3 also reads – he heads to the slot area and stays above the opposing center, but if the puck goes corner to corner, he’ll go down on the puck while F2 will rotate wall-to-far-wall (he’s reading to get the jump on that), and F1 will come up to the slot (again, above the center).
You always need that guy high.
Once you get the puck, any thought of positioning outside of “keep a guy high” is basically thrown out the window. Read the rest of this entry »