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!
Here’s a great example of the 1-2-2 “Foosball” Forecheck in action
The 1-2-2 “Foosball” Forecheck can be a great set-up if you have the right type of team for it. This forecheck requires speed and discipline. If you lack either of those attributes, it’ll probably fall apart for you. Here are the main key points on this set-up:
1-2-2 “Foosball” Forecheck
1. F1 “flushes” outside in, and chases the puck no matter where it goes
2. F2 and F3 set up at about the tops of the circles, slightly narrower than the dots
3. D-men set up the same distance apart as F1 and F2, but they’re at the blue line
4. As the play moves up the boards, the strong-side forward hits the receiver, strong side d-man seals the boards at the blue line
5. Weak-side forward and d-man slide across and protect the middle passing lanes
6. F1 funnels back to provide support
CHECK OUT THE FULL EXPLANATIONS OF THE 1-2-2 “FOOSBALL” FORECHECK HERE:
In our last post, we talked about beating a 2-1-2 with a D to D pass. In the footage, we saw the NJ Devils using an aggressive 2-1-2 “Stack” against the Rangers. In this post, we’ll show you the LA Kings using another variation of the 2-1-2, the 2-1-2 “Spread.”
2-1-2 Stack vs Spread
There are two types of 2-1-2 set-ups; the “stack,” where the first two players enter the zone on the same side of the ice, the first player hits and pins, the second player takes the puck; and the “spread,” where the first player attacks the puck carrier, and the second player eliminates the D to D pass (this is what the Kings are using in this clip).
2-1-2 “Spread” Explained
The key to an effectice 2-1-2 “Spread” is for F1 (the first forward on the attack) come in aggressive. If F1 is lazy geting in, the play won’t work. F2 must also get in hard and take away the D to D pass. F3 reads F1’s forechecking angle, and takes away the strong side breakout. If done properly, there’s nothing the opposing defenseman can do except try to force a pass up the strong side, or dump it out of the zone.
The 2-1-2 is a great forecheck to set an aggressive tone at the beginning of a game. If your players are in good enough shape, and can execute it consistently, you can stick with it for an entire game. But I recommend having another forecheck to fall back on if the 2-1-2 starts getting sloppy.
During the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs, I did a video dissection of Ryan Carter’s game-winning goal against the New York Rangers. The video got quite a few hits that night, and I had a number of requests to dissect the play from the defensive point of view. People wanted to know what went wrong, and what the Rangers could have done differently to prevent the goal. So I put together a follow up video, showing how I would have beaten the 2-1-2 Forecheck the Devils were using. Since we’re ramping up for the new season, I thought it would be a good idea to brush up on beating the most commonly run forechecking system, the 2-1-2.
2-1-2 Stack vs Spread
There are two types of 2-1-2 set-ups; the “stack,” where the first two players enter the zone on the same side of the ice, the first player hits and pins, the second player takes the puck (this is the set-up the Devils use in this clip). In the “spread,” the first player attacks the puck carrier, and the second player eliminates the D to D pass.
How to Beat the 2-1-2
The first step to beating the 2-1-2 is for the puck-side defenseman to determine whether the opponent is using a stack or a spread. If he reads stack, he MUST get the puck to his weak-side partner, no matter what it takes! That’s where the open ice is, and that’s where the highest likelihood of a successful breakout lies. If he reads spread, he’ll need to beat his strong-side attacker, either with a misdirection or a reverse pass to the centerman, then break out the strong side.
What went Wrong?
In this clip, you’ll see the Rangers defenseman was more worried about jockeying with the Devils’ first man in, than he was about getting the puck to the weak side. Because of this, he ended up with poor body positioning, and got bombarded by the Devils’ aggressive forecheck. The 2-1-2 worked out in text-book fashion for the Devils, first man hit and pinned, second man picked up the puck and hit the third man coming into the slot for the game-winning goal.