Team USA is playing some great hockey right now in the 2014 Winter Olympics. A lot of their systems look just like the stuff we’ve laid out in the Coaches’ Training Course, especially their offensive attack structure.
In this play you see a textbook Attack Triangle, with F1 driving wide, and pulling the opposing defenseman deep; F2 driving wide to the far post, pulling his defenseman deep, and F3 filling in the vacated space in the high slot. From there, it’s a drop pass, and a one-time snipe. Beautiful setup, beautiful goal!
In this post we’re dissecting Pavel Datsyuk’s end-to-end goal against Nashville. As great as the individual effort was, there are quite a few team details that really made this play possible.
It starts with Datsyuk providing proper support for his defenseman in the defensive zone. He picks up the puck and initiates the breakout to the right winger. After making the breakout pass, he follows up the play, providing mid-lane support on the breakout. As the breakout is happening, the weak-side winger blows out of the zone, pushing the opposing defenseman back, which opens up space for Datsyuk to wheel. The play finishes with the opposing defenseman reaching for the puck, and Datsyuk eats him alive.
Great individual effort, made possible by well-structured positional play.
Seems like I’m doing a lot of Q&A work these days! There have been quite a few questions on the Neutral Zone Trap I diagrammed up a few years ago. So I decided to make a quick clarification video to resolve some of these questions. Before we jump straight in, let me just state again that there are many ways of structuring systems. Sometimes these differences are adjustments to what the other team is doing, sometimes they’re just the coach’s personal preference. Either way, use this info if it makes sense for your situation. If not, don’t use it! Here are a few key points to remember:
Neutral Zone Trap
1. The trap is a CONCEPT: make it look like the board-side breakout is open, then systematically shut it down
2. There is more than one way this can be done
3. Adjustments should be made depending on how high the opposing team’s wingers are, and where the breakout is initiating from
4. Ability to angle will make or break the trap – funnel the breakout into the “kill zone”
5. Try to shut down the other team’s breakout BEFORE the red line (to eliminate the option for a dump in)
6. Generate offense with quick NZ transitions after the turnover!
How do you transition from forecheck to offense when you create a turnover in the 2-3 press? It seems tough to run a cycle because you will draw players out of good defensive position.
I decided to answer it in a post, rather than to try to explain it via email or blog comment. Here’s a quick summary of how it works:
How to Convert the 2-3 Press into Offense after the Transition
1. F1 Drives deep and hits the puck-carrying defenseman
2. F2 Reads the play, and supports F1
3. F3 sets up on the blue line, between the two defensemen
4. If F1 or F2 cause the turnover, and pick up the puck down low, slide immediately into the cycle, with F3 dropping into the high slot
5. If the turnover happens up top, or in the middle, whoever picks it up steps into the slot and shoots.
A few years ago, I did a quick video dissection of Joe Pavelski’s over time goal against the LA Kings. This video shows perfect execution of one of the Attack Triangle options we outline in the Coaches’ Training Course and in the Playbook. Here’s a quick summary of how it works on this play:
How the Sharks used the Attack Triangle on this Play
1. F1 drives the puck wide, while reading the gap of the strong-side defenseman
2. F2 realizes he has an inside lane to the net, and drives straight through the middle, pulling the weak-side defenseman with him, and opening up space in the high slot
3. F3 (Joe Pavelski) reads that the weak-side defenseman has been driven low, and that there will be space in the high slot, so he fills that space
4. F1 reads loose gap from the strong-side defenseman, and sees that the weak-side defenseman has been driven deep, then feathers an “area pass” to the open ice in the high slot
5. F3 walks in, picks up the pass, and snipes the game winner!