I often write about “systems” in hockey, and in doing so, imply that every team uses them. I do that, because, well, they do. Sort of.
Not all teams use systems in the same way. Some teams have a roster that offers them the luxury of using “guidelines” for certain players and certain lines.
Systems confine players to set paths on the ice, which means that while you might be moving a player not smart enough to move himself into the right position, you may also be limiting your more talented players from being able to make reads and plays that can turn the tide of a game in your favor.
What makes sense then, is being open to a little deviation from the plan by allowing your talent to use their instincts. Not everyone, mind you – just your true talent.
I’m actually a big fan of varying the systems throughout your lineup based on the tools you have to work with, because it doesn’t allow your opponent to figure out what you’re doing and beat the same pattern consistently. If you have a crazy fast checking line you may want them to forecheck in a 2-1-2, where a slower line might be best sagging in a 1-2-2. As long as you keep the same foundation in the d-zone, particularly with breakouts, pairing talent with proper direction can be a killer combo. Read the rest of this entry »