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.
We talk a lot about positional play on this blog. Positional play is extremely important, but it’s only part of the equation! There are tactical elements that must be executed in any given scenario for the positioning to be worth anything. In other words, it’s great to be in the right place at the right time… but if you are doing the WRONG thing while you’re there, it’s useless!
Controlling the Stick
There are many instances in games where positional and tactical must be executed together. In this video you see situation where the Team Canada has a positional mix-up, and a forward ends up playing defense. He does a good job covering for the defenseman positionally, but tactically he makes the mistake of not controlling the Slovakian player’s stick, and it results in a goal against.
Timing in hockey is a skill that requires not only physical ability, but mental ability as well. It is not uncommon to see young players buzzing around in practices or games – they appear to only have one speed: FULL SPEED. Since they’re working hard, they think they’re doing a good job… In reality, it is the player who arrives in the right spot, at the right time, with speed that will be the most effective.
Teach your players to pass to designated receiving areas, not necessarily to players. The responsibility lies with the receiver to make the play work. The receiver must select the proper route to the receiving zone so that he or she arrives on time, with speed. He or she must be ready to receive the puck when the passer is ready to move the puck, that’s timing! Here’s the diagram:
Center Lag Timing Drill
1. Players line up in opposite corners
2. On whistle, 2 players leave from each line
3. First player from each line leaves without puck, skates up to the blue line and cuts across (staying on side)
4. Second player from each line leaves with puck, skates up and hits the first player of the opposite line in receiving zone
5. Receiver takes puck wide
6. Passer drives the net
7. After driving wide, first player passes across to the second player for the one-timer
– Have second player trail as the lag man for a drop pass instead of driving the net
– Add a third player as a defenseman to play a 1 on 1, or as a forward for a 3 on 0
– Utilize other attack options such as a misdirection in the zone followed by a cycle to the second player supporting
– Be creative!