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.
Use the Timed Delay Drill to introduce basic passing and timing concepts, as well as offensive attack and delay tactics
Passing and timing are extremely important concepts for hockey players to understand. This is a drill you can use to introduce these ideas at a young age. As is the case with many drills, you can progress this through from simple to more complex versions as your players progress.
The first part of this drill develops basic passing and timing skills, the second part can be progressed to work on attacking the offensive zone in “waves,” meaning if the first attack option is shut down, a player can “delay” by misdirecting, then wait for his trailer man to come in late. Here’s the diagram:
Timed Delay Drill:
1. First player in line walks in and shoots, then picks up a puck from the corner.
2. Second player in line times it, then explodes as first player is ready to make the pass.
3. After receiving the pass, second player drives wide, then delays with a misdirection toward the boards
4. First player times it to cross the blue line as the second player is coming out of his misdirection.
5. First player picks up the pass and shoots.
NOTE: Run from both sides of the ice at the same time.
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!