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‚Ķ 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

2-1-2 Spread: In Action




How to Execute a Proper 2-1-2 Spread Forecheck

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).

See our video on the 2-1-2 Forecheck here: 2-1-2 Stack & Spread Explanation

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.

Strategically…
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.

Enjoy!

Who IS my Competition Anyways…?

“Who is my competition anyways…?” This is the question EVERY player should ask him or herself!

The purpose of this blog is to help build better teams, by providing players, coaches, and parents with useful drills, tools, and information. You often hear me talking about on-ice strategies and tactics, or off-ice drills and workouts that will give you an EDGE over your competition.

They’re all the same… Well… Almost!
As you move into higher levels of play, the skill-sets of each player become more and more similar. Think about it… who scores the most goals at mite hockey? It’s the kid who can skate the fastest! Who scores the most goals at Peewee? Now that most kids can skate, other tactics like shooting, playmaking, and read & react abilities start coming into play. How about at Midget? Juniors? College? NHL? At the top levels of play, the difference in physical skills from the best player on the team to the worst is minimal. So the importance of gaining an EDGE over your competition is even more crucial!

So who’s my competition?
Who exactly is our competition anyways? This is a huge question, and one that every player needs an honest and healthy understanding of.

When we talk about training, and dominating our competition, the first thought that comes to mind is the OTHER team, right? Of course we want to annhialate the other team… we want to be stronger in the corners, meaner in front of the net, faster to the loose puck… we want to think the game faster, and punish them on the scoreboard… right? If that’s not the case for you, then you’re definitely in the wrong sport. In fact, athletics is probably the wrong field for you in general!

But let’s think a little bit deeper on this… what about our own teammates? Could they be competition too? My response would be ABSOLUTELY!

When you no longer have the “buzzer” to signal the end of your shift…
The moment you graduate from “house league” hockey, your teammates become your competition. Obviously, this needs to be HEALTHY competition, with each player working toward a common, team-oriented objective, but nevertheless… its a competition.

As you move into higher levels of play, the players who produce results will see more ice time. Now these results may come in the form of goals and assists, or maybe in terms of physical play. Sometimes results are considered “momentum shifters” such as a big hit, a big save, a fight, or drawing a penalty at a critical time in the game.

The question is… HOW ARE YOU GOING TO SET YOURSELF UP AS A GO-TO PLAYER? How are you going to make sure YOU get the nod over someone else when you’re down by a goal with 3 minutes left in the game? How are you going to establish yourself as a disciplined, gutsy, hard-working grinder that your coach CAN’T AFFORD to sit during the penalty kill?

The humble opinion of yours truly…
My answer is, you must become a STUDENT of the game, in all respects. You have to UNDERSTAND your positioning better than anyone else, and then EXECUTE it with discipline. You have to be mentally tough, responding to pressure with IMPROVED PLAY, rather than disintegrated execution. You have to think, breath, and live the game, not only at the rink, but at home too. You have to be PHYSICALLY tough… never shying away from a hit. You have to be CONFIDENT that you can go into a battle, and come up with the puck.

So what are the key aspects of the game, that player’s should be working on to gain their edge? Here’s a list of the most important items (again in my humble opinion).

On-Ice Factors:

  1. Technical Skating – get a solid skating instructor and make sure all aspects of your stride are as efficient as possible. Uncorrected stride problems will hold you back as you progress to higher levels of play.
  2. Technical Puck Skills (stickhandling, passing, shooting)
  3. Strategic Shot Selection – knowing which shot to use, and where to shoot in a given situation.
  4. Positional Play – where to be, when to be there.
  5. Tactical Play – what to do when you are in your position (i.e. force vs contain)

Off-Ice Factors:

  1. Strength and Conditioning – becoming bigger, faster, and stronger than your competition, with a hockey-specific workout program.
  2. Off-ice Mental Training – study positioning, visualization techniques, game film analysis
  3. Off-ice Skill Development – many skills can (and should) be developed off the ice… primarily puck skills (stickhandling, passing, shooting, etc.)

If it were easy… Everyone would be doing it!
It’s easy to be pretty good. But becoming EXCELLENT takes complete dedication both on and off the ice. Players at the highest levels understand that hockey is a lifestyle, not a pass time. It takes a lifetime of disciplined execution to achieve excellence in our sport!

On top of all that, you have to be PATIENT. You might not be a go-to player in the coach’s eyes yet. So, take the chance NOW to prepare yourself so that when you get your shot you’re ready to step in and prove that YOU deserve to be there more than your teammate!

There’s an old saying that goes “luck is when preparation meets opportunity.” Prepare yourself now to meet your opportunity, then seize the moment when it comes!

Jeremy

PS – What do you think of my list? Did I forget anything? Leave a comment and let me know what aspects of the game are “MUST HAVES” for you!

Power Play: Breakout




Here’s one of my favorite power play breakouts…

There are quite a few different power play breakouts. Rather than try to cover them all, I thought I’d just post my favorite. I like this one because it is very versatile, and can beat most penalty kill forechecks if the players read and react effectively.

This is another instance where I like to have designated responsibilities so that we always have the proper-handed-shot in the correct position.

Lastly, I forgot to mention in the video, but SOMETIMES there is an opening straight up the middle to the “breakaway man.” If the far forward notices this, he can cut across the blue line early and sync up with the quarterback behind the net. The QB can step out to the RIGHT side in this example, and fire a hard pass up the middle to that far forward. You can usually get away with this once or twice a game before the other team takes it away.

Enjoy!

Forecheck: 2-3 Press




Start the game with a BANG using the 2-3 Press!

The 2-3 Press is a really fun forecheck if you have the right group of players for it. If you have a fast, hard-hitting team, you can use this forecheck to strike fear into the hearts of the other team, and make it so they’re constantly looking over their shoulder for the rest of the game!

I like to use this forecheck for brief “spurts” during a game because it is very high-tempo, and uses a lot of energy. So give it a try for each line’s first shift in the game, or maybe the first shift of each period. This will help get your team off to a fast start, and should give you some momentum in the process.

Enjoy!

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