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Coaching Strategies

NHL 15 Coaching Strategies Guide:

By: SeniorGnu


Coaching Strategies are how you control the positioning and play style of your A.I. teammates. To bring up Coaching Strategies, click the Right Stick before the game at the Edit Lines screen, or use the controls in the parenthesis seen below during the game.


Offensive Zone Bias Forechecks (D-Pad Left & Right)

Neutral Zone Trap: Center and Defensemen will pull back hard when the puck is turned over in the Offensive Zone in order to set up the Neutral Zone Trap.


Sit Back: Defensemen will pull back hard when the puck is turned over in the Offensive Zone.


Balanced: Defensemen will not pull back as hard, nor will they attempt to pinch.


Press: Strong Side Defenseman will Attempt to Pinch to Keep the Puck in the Offensive Zone


Full Forecheck:  Both Defensemen will Pinch Hard in order to Keep the Puck in the Offensive Zone.  This will lead to breakaways by opposing team and is only recommended as a last resort.


Offensive Zone Forechecks (D-Pad Left & Right then Y)

1-2-2 Passive: Passive forecheck with all skaters looking to prevent breakout passes.


2-3Two nearest forwards pressure the puck while the third forward drops back.


Weakside LockForwards will pressure the play along the boards where the strongside defenseman will pinch along the boards while the weakside defenseman will drop back and cover the point.


1-2-2 Aggressive: One forward in deep forcing play up the boards into teammates.


Neutral Zone Forechecks (D-Pad Left & Right then A)

1-3-1: Neutral zone trap with one defender pressuring the puck carrier, three players defending the blue line, and one deep in the defensive end defending the net.


1-4: Neutral zone trap with one defender pressuring the puck carrier and four players defending the blue line.


1-2-2 Red: Defenders will hold the neutral zone and apply pressure to the breakout at the red line.


1-2-2 Blue: Defenders will hold the neutral zone and apply pressure to the breakout at the opposing blue line.


Offensive Pressure Breakouts (D-Pad Up)

Defend Lead: Players will not take any chances.


Conservative: Players are cautious about getting caught up ice.


Standard: A good mix of cautious and aggresssive play.


Aggressive: Defense will take some chances.


Full Attack: Players are only thinking about offense.


Quick Breakouts (D-Pad Up then Y)

Close Support: 

As the puck advances up the far side, the winger may move across for support and a pass or move to a puck that is chipped off the boards into the neutral zone. The winger coming across creates more options than the winger staying wide, and the success of this strategy relies on short passes or chip plays. Short passes or chip plays are definitely easier to execute than long cross-ice passes, which are often intercepted.


Stay Wide:

As the puck advances up the far side, the winger may stay wide so that they avoid checking pressure from the other team. This wide pass is more difficult to make but once made usually provides more skating room for the winger because he will be on the outside shoulder of the opponent’s defense and can drive in the wide lane.


Leave Zone Early:

Because of the elimination of the red line a few years ago, some coaches like to give the green light for the wide winger to leave the zone early and be available by moving in the neutral zone.  This is effective because the opposition will have to back on of their defensemen out of the zone, and as a result the back-side winger can move into open ice much easier as the pass is made. The only problem with doing this is that playing four on four in your defensive zone is more difficult than five on five.


Control Breakouts (D-Pad Up + A)

Strong Side Slant: 

D1 waits behind the net for C to swing. C can swing behind the net or into the far corner. RW swings on the same side but a big higher up than C. LW stations himself at center ice along the boards. D2 waits deep in the corner. D1 now passes to D2, who then has three options as he moves up ice: 1. Pass to LW, who can pass or chip the puck to RW as he slants across mid-ice, 2. Pass to RW, 3. Pass across to the center on the far side. The key players are RW and C as they move with speed to break through the trap (figure 1.12).

Figure 1.12

Fig 1.12


Blue to Blue: 

D1 waits behind the net for C to move back with speed. C swings with speed behind the net. D2 swings into the opposite corner. LW waits at the corner of the close blue line. RW waits at the corner of the far blue line. There are four options available to D1. C can pick up the puck with speed and try to weave his way through the trap or move the puck to LW, RW, or back to D1 and up the other side (figure 1.11a). D1 can allow C to go through and then step out the other side of the net and pass to LW or D2 (figure 1.11b). If D1 passes to D2, the next primary option should be a stretch pass to RW moving across the ice or to LW, who bends his pattern through the center of the ice.

Figure 1.11

Fig 1.11


Three High: 

D1 waits behind the net for a few seconds. All three forwards stay out high in the neutral zone. D2 supports D1 by moving wide into one of the corners. D1 steps out and passes to C curling in mid-ice or to LW or RW, who are moving or posting up (stationary along the boards by one of the lines). If C is under pressure when he receives the puck, he may chip it by and create a footrace to LW or RW (figure 1.13).

Figure 1.13

Fig 1.13


Offensive Strategy (B then Y)

Overload: Best suited for skilled players. Two players are available for a pass. Lots of criss-crossing off of the rush.


Crash the Net: Best suited for strong, physical players. Allows for lots of shots using both screens and deflections. Players without the puck crowd the net on the rush. Get lots of shots and use screens, deflections. Players without puck go to the net on the rush.


Behind the Net: Control the puck own low near the boards. Creates opportunities from behind the net. Hit weak side D-men for one-timers.


Faceoff Strategy (B then A)

Defensive: Places a Forward in a Defensive Position to Bolster your Defensive Positioning Off the Faceoff.  This sacrifices your ability to make an Offensive Play off the draw; however, it prevents the opposing team from creating a good look off the draw. Use when you have the lead, or when your line is a weaker line than your opponent’s.


Normal: Typical Faceoff Positioning for Typical Game Scenarios.  3 Forward up, 2 Defenseman back. Use this balanced Faceoff Position on the majority of Faceoffs


Aggressive: Places a Defenseman in a Forward Position to Bolster your Offensive Positioning Off the Faceoff.  This sacrifices your ability to play Defense off the draw; however, it allows you to create a good look off the draw. Use when you are behind, or when your line is a stronger line than your opponent’s.


Defensive Strategy (X then Y)

Collapsing: Players collapse to the front of the net and slot. Forces opponent to take shots from perimeter. The D-men clear the front of the net.


Staggered: A good mix of low and high coverage. Weak side winger always controls the high slot area. Strong side winger covers the strong side point.


Tight Point: Use against teams with high scoring D-men. Two forwards stay close to opponent’s D-men. Three players cover down low.


Defensive Pressure (X then A)

Protect Net: Players collapse in the defensive zone.


Contain Puck: Players will stay between the puck and the net.


Normal: A solid mix of one on one and zone defense.


Puck Side Attack: Players on the strong side attack the puck.


High Pressure: Your team is at their most aggressive.


Penalty Kill (While on the Penalty Kill – B then Y)

Passive Box: Creates at tight box in the defensive zone. Keeps the slot very well defended. Allows for shots from the outside.


Large Box: Penalty killers attack the puck carrier. Maintains pressure on the outside. Forces the play, but can leave openings in the slot.


Diamond: Great for covering umbrella power play covers players in the high slot. Keeps a defensive player directly in front of the net.


Power Play (While on the Power Play – B then Y)

Overload: Best Suited for skilled players. Two players are available for a pass. Lots of criss-crossing off of the rush.


Umbrella: Name based on the shape of the set up. One D-man at point with 2 shooters at circles. Great for one-timers.


Shooting: Strong puck movement and good point shots. Two players in front for screens and deflections. Outnumber your opponent down low.


Power Play Slider (Must set at Edit Lines)

PP Carry vs PP Dump: During powerplays, determines AI tendency to carry the puck into the offensive zone versus dumping and chasing the puck in.


Line Strategies (Must set at Edit Lines)

Carry vs. Dump: AI more likely to carry the puck in or dump and chase.


Cycle vs. Shoot: If your team will look for any shot, or worry about possession and high percentage chances.


Efficiency vs. Energy: Will your team conserve energy or hustle more with high intensity?


Don’t Block vs. Block: Will your AI teammates allow the goalie to see the shot or attempt to block?


Defensive Strategies (Must Set at Edit Lines)

Hold Line vs. Pinch: Will your defensive AI hold the blueline or take risks to pinch?


Cycle vs. Shoot: Tendency for your defensive AI to put the puck in to cycle or put shots on net?

15 thoughts on “Coaching Strategies

  • David says:

    How do you adjust things like offensive, defensive strategies, and line strategies in an EASHL game?

  • admin says:

    You must be the lead profile on the team. During the team selection screen, the top player chooses the team/uniforms as well as the coaching strategies in game.

    Let me know if that helps.

    • David says:

      it helps us big time,according to the fact that chosen gameplan is followed by everyone.play mostly 3s-4s,CPU positionning is crucial.Thx for the tip!!Took a long time to reply sry bout it!

  • Guilopes says:

    What’s the button on ps3 to set the coaching strategies? I can only change the Forecheck and those you select with DPad :( Please help!

    • admin says:

      Try Pressing Circle to bring up your Offensive Lines and Square to bring up your Defensive Lines. Then press Triangle to change that line’s strategy.

  • tom says:

    is there a way to change these in my profile so I don\’t have to change them before each online quick match?

  • David says:

    It helps us big time,according the fact that chosen gameplan is followed by everyone.We play mostly 3s-4s,CPU positionning is crucial.Thx for the tip!!Took a long time to reply sry bout it!!

  • jesse says:

    i cant bring up defensive or offensive lines by pressing circle or square in a game. how can i fix that, im not playing rookie

  • Sway says:

    I\’m assuming you\’re playing BAP, I think you can change strats on the fly the way it\’s described above when you\’re in a mode where you control all 5 skaters. In the main menu, I *THINK* under \”My NHL 13\”, look for \”Customize AI\”. There you can set up all these options and save them. Then when you go to start a game, on the side select screen at the bottom it should say \”Customize AI – R2\”, or something like that. Push R2, load your presets, and off ya go.

  • Lorry says:

    Thanks for a great site. I have two questions.

    First, is it possible for you to make some kind of comments on the pros and cons on the abowe strategys or when a strategy is best suited.
    Second, do you have any plans on putting up a section with tips on how to create effective “create a play” examples?

  • matt says:

    whats the most successful combinations of strategies to use in terms of offence/ defensive game plans

  • […] play has us all encouraged and excited for the stretch drive, there is always room for improvement. On defense, with the man to man coverage, the Rangers can be “distracted” into sending both defensemen […]

  • Tempo says:

    How can i change strategies in nhl14 HUT game mode? Anyone? I can do it during the game.

  • Drew says:

    How do you set a custom AI for versus gameplay on NHL 14, ps3? I am able to customize my AI then save it, however when I go play a game the default one is there. Thanks

  • Knox Harrington says:

    Hey great site, it’s been very helpful in many facets of nhl 14, thank you, but now with even more coaching stratigies in 15, I’m a bit frustrated, i found a way in 14 to have two d men collapsing in the slot to stop glitch onetimers while having two forwards back checking to cover high slot snipes n onetimers, it was perfect but now Iv been trying to duplicate it in 15 with no luck, I rarely ask for help but Iv been trying for 3 days, with over 40 games played, I feel like Iv tried literally everything but with so many combinations I know that’s not true, I know that there’s contradicting stratigies that really makes for ugly hockey, I’m learning as I’m sure you are but any light to shed on the subject b most apriciated

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