Archive for the ‘The Whiteboard’ Category

Pittsburgh Penguins v Boston Bruins - Game Four

The concept of defensive “layers” is not unique to the Boston Bruins; in fact, it’s pretty ubiquitous around the NHL at this point. I first came across the system in the ECHL when I played for die-hard layer afficianado Davis Payne, now of the Los Angeles Kings. As far as the terminology goes when it comes to explaining it, the language of hockey is not universal, so it often feels like one coach is teaching something different when that’s not the case at all. Some people call a delay an escape, some people call a mid-lane drive a net-lane drive, and some people call layers “stacking,” or whatever the heck they feel like. Either way, variations of what we’re about to talk about (with different points of emphasis) exist all over.

The Bruins execute using layers particularly well, so I figured today would be a good day to explain the concept so you know what you’re looking for tonight.

On its face the idea is basic: just because a player on your team gets beat one-on-one doesn’t mean your opponent is free and clear. Without layers, that’s how it was for me in Junior B, the BCHL, and the NCAA. You had your responsibility, and if you blew, you were giving up a grade A scoring opportunity. You were killing the team.

As a right winger playing that older style, the left d-man was my responsibility. Black, white. I was to be within a stick’s length of him when on the strong side, and he was not to get a shot through to the net (mild exaggeration below, but you get the idea).


He often did because I was really not that fond of getting hit with frozen hockey pucks, but I faked doing my job pretty well. Read the rest of this entry »

This one falls under “The Basics,” because it really doesn’t take that long to explain.

When your team has three forwards in the offensive zone and solid possession of the puck, you have a lot of leeway from your coach to get creative, and have very little positional rules. Still, when the puck changes sides you want to do it as efficiently as possible, so there’s a rotation.

Priority 1A is keeping a guy high. Let’s take a look at where players will typically be to start, and where they eventually go.

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The most important part of any powerplay is getting set up in the offensive zone. It’s also the most difficult part.

Once you’ve established solid possession there and have everybody in position, things just get fun. But prior to that, it takes tape-to-tape passes, good decisions, and hard work.

Obviously there are many variations to the powerplay breakout (the most common of which these days is to drop your best skill guy the puck at your own blueline and let him set things up on his own), but every team has one look that’s exactly the same: Old Faithful.

The diagram is below, but first, a quick explanation:

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Most players who’ve played any level of competitive hockey have a pretty good idea of what a “reverse” breakout is.

There’s a D-to-D reverse and a D-to-center reverse, but for our purposes today we’re just going to be talking about the D-to-D reverse, because I want to look at what the forwards should do on that breakout to maximize their speed.

As a reminder, the D-to-D reverse:

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When I found myself in a slump as a player, there was usually a reason: I was trying too hard to score.

What I mean by that is, I wanted out of the slump so desperately I was cheating offensively. When you cheat offensively, you sacrifice some attention to defensive detail, and the magnet that is the opposing net starts sucking you in that direction, into the traffic. And just like that you lose your oh-so-valuable ”offensive gap.”

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No matter what level of hockey you currently find yourself at, there’s no doubt you find it more fun to win. And to make that easier, you need to be in the right places on the ice.

We’ve all played with the kid who skates like Duncan Keith but can’t think the game – he’s the one who sees a puck rimmed around the boards and takes this angle…

….instead of this angle.

Don’t be that guy making things more difficult than they need to be.

Today we’re going to take a look at where forwards should go off after a lost draw at center. Read the rest of this entry »

Today on The Whiteboard we’ll look at the rotation teams use to kill off a 5-on-3 powerplay. The rotation is very simple on paper, but obviously gets a little harder on the ice. That whole “having less guys” thing means you have to do everything perfectly to get a stop.

For starters, let’s take a look at the most common offensive 5-on-3 formation teams use on the two-man advantage. This is where everyone starts:

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