Neutral Zone Trap Clarified


Neutral Zone Trap Clarified

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 Clarification - YouTubeNeutral 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!

Hope this helps!

Winnipeg Jets Power Play: Dissected


Winnipeg Jets Power Play Dissection from the Illegal Curve show on TSN Radio 1290 in Winnipeg

This past Saturday I had the opportunity to be a guest again on the Illegal Curve show on TSN Radio 1290 in Winnipeg. If you haven’t listened to the show before, and you’re a Jets fan, check it out here: http://illegalcurve.com/

The topic I covered on Saturday will be useful to any coach, whether you’re a Jets fan or not. I also made a video dissection of the Jets power play after the fact, illustrating a few of the things I mentioned on the show. So, Check out my segment in the audio below, then watch the vid!

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Here are the key points as discussed on the show:

  1. Not getting a lot of power plays in the first place (especially last week)
    1. Only two against Boston
    2. Only one against Buffalo
    3. Against the Rangers and Devils they started using their speed, and Drew more penalties those game
  2. Puck movement is pretty good once they actually get the set-up
  3. Problems with breakout and moving through the neutral zone
    1. Forcing passes to covered players in NZ (in my opinion, it’s ok for the defenseman to carry it all the way on a PP if the other team lets him walk)
    2. Against Rangers and Devils, they improved on this a lot – and were able to get the puck deep and set up
    3. Not driving deep enough
  4. Problems with the initial attack
    1. taking the shot before getting the set up (I usually say don’t shoot on the initial attack on a PP unless you have a 2 on 1 or better, because if you miss, you’re not in position to rebound and the other team can ice it and waste time)
    2. Forcing passes – the whole idea of the PP is to isolate a man, then beat him with a pass. If you pass too soon, or force a pass, you’re not going to open up opportunities
    3. They never really got the set-up in last week’s games… this week was better on that front.
  5. Against the Rangers & Devils they started fixing these problems
    1. Used speed more to draw penalties
    2. Didn’t force passes in the neutral zone (defenseman started walking it more)
    3. Drove the puck deep then looked for the set up, or sometimes dumped it in to the open man
    4. Great puck movement within the zone
    5. Still not pulling the trigger enough, and getting sticks on rebounds
  6. MY SUGGESTIONS: Assuming they continue to improve on the breakout and puck movement through the NZ, and assuming their puck movement on the set-up stays solid like it was this past week, my main observation would be that the men in front might be a little too low. There are two approaches to screening a goalie, both have pros and cons:
    1. Right on top of him – better screen, more annoying, but tips don’t have as much room to change the trajectory of the shot, and rebounds usually bounce past you (which happens a lot to the Jets)
    2. Further out (7 or 8 feet in front of the goalie) – not as good for screens, not as annoying/distracting for the goalie, but much more effective for tips, and way better for jumping on rebounds

MacDonald Forecheck Drill



MacDonald Forecheck Drill

The MacDonald Forecheck is a nice little drill to work on forechecking lanes and angles. Here’s the diagram and explanation:

MacDonald Forecheck Drill

1. On whistle, forecheckers take a lap around the center circle
2. As the forecheckers finish their lap, coach dumps the puck in
3. Forecheckers attack, 5-man unit breaks out
4. After the breakout occurs, puck is passed back to the coach
5. 2 of the 3 forwards peel out to take a lap around the middle circle, becoming the new forecheckers (forwards must communicate who goes!)
6. As forecheckers finish the turn, coach dumps the puck in for a breakout from the far end
7. New 5-man unit moves into the end that just broke out

Enjoy!


USE THIS DRILL IN YOUR OWN PRACTICE PLAN:



Hockey Plus Minus App for iPad



This Hockey Plus Minus App for iPad is a Fast and Easy Way to Track Plus Minus During Games!

Anybody who follows my blog knows I’m a huge believer in using technology to enhance hockey coaching. I recently came across an iPad app that I’m really excited about… it’s called Hockey Plus Minus.

If you check out the app store, you’ll see there are a number of hockey stat apps that have begun cropping up, some are really complex with the ability to track tons of different stuff, some are extremely simple, and only track a few things. With all the different options out there, I figured I’d take the chance to throw in my 2 cents worth on the subject.

Here are three questions you should ask yourself before picking a mobile stat tracker:

What do you want to track?

You can get REALLY in depth with your stat tracking, or you can stay pretty basic. Higher level teams need a lot more depth in their tracking (hits, faceoffs won, shots on goal and shot locations, etc.), younger teams don’t need to dedicate as much time and effort into stat tracking––in my opinion.

What is already being tracked?

Obviously, an app that tracks goals and assists will be redundant, since that’s already being tracked on the game sheet. Some leagues require the score keepers to track shots on goal as well. I don’t care about wasting time and effort tracking things that are already being tracked.

Who will be tracking the stats?

If you, as the coach, are planning on tracking the stats yourself from the bench, you’ll need an interface that is clean and simple, that requires little time to input each event. This is the main reason I love this Hockey Plus Minus app. The interface is simple, and I can enter in the info quickly, with minimal effort.

Conclusion:

As a coach, Plus Minus is the main stat I prefer to keep control of. The real strength of Plus Minus is what it shows over the course of a season, so if it is inconsistently tracked, its useless and might as well not be tracked at all. This app makes it really easy to track it consistently.

There are a few suggestions I’d make to the developers of this app as they roll new versions out:

  1. add the ability to view, select, and edit by individual goal (if you made a mistake and need to change it)
  2. add the ability to see the score
  3. add the ability to export a report into an excel doc

Hope this app comes in handy for you,

Cheers!

Jeremy

QuickStickz Review




QuickStickz is a Fun and Effective way to Develop Stickhandling Ability

I’ve been really excited to get this post out, and let you know about a cool product called QuickStickz. QuickStickz is an innovative new way to work on your stickhandling abilities off the ice, and it’s a lot of fun too!

A few months ago I was invited to take a look at QuickStickz, which is a video-game-based, hockey stickhandling development system. I had seen the product before, but I’d never had the chance to get my hands on one. The idea seemed really cool, so I was excited to see what it was all about.

How it Works:
QuickStickz uses a special infrared camera that connects up to your PC via USB jack. The camera combos up with a customized SmartHockey stickhandling ball, that has been machined out with a whole bunch of tiny reflectors all over its surface. As you stickhandle, the camera picks up the movements of the ball, and sends the signal into the computer, which allows you to see your stickhandling movements on the screen.

Set-up is pretty simple, just plug in the camera, go to the QuickStickz member’s area, and install the plug-in when prompted.

Drills and Games:
Once you’re up and running, just select a drill or a game from the member’s area, and have at it! The drills are designed to help you work on various skills such as tight puck movement, wide puck movement, dekes, toe drags, etc. The games apply these skills in a more dynamic environment.

Member’s Area:
The member’s area is a great way to track your progress. You can check your own stats and progress, or see how your top score compares to other top scores from around the world. The member’s area also tracks how much time you’re spending on QuickStickz. This makes it easy for parents or coaches to check in on the player’s efforts and progress.

Conclusion:
QuickStickz is a great tool to help any player develop his or her stickhandling abilities. It’s a lot of fun, and it’s a product that I think connects with kids on their level. The one weakness of QuickSticks is that it’s fairly sensitive to the ambient lighting in the room you’re using it in. Sunlight badly interferes with the infrared signal put out by the camera, and makes the ball just jump around on the screen. So make sure you close the blinds, and rely on your “artificial lighting” (regular lightbulbs), and you should be just fine!

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