Excerpt From: Hockey Plays and Strategies
For the following regroups, the strong-side forward supports the boards while the back-side forward stretches. The center supports both sides either low or high (figure 2.11b). The sequence of options for the defensemen in the neutral zone depends on how the opponents forecheck. Do they forecheck with two forwards in a 2-1-2 system or with one forward in a 1-2-2 or 1-3-1 setup? If they forecheck with one forward, does he take away the D-to-D, or does the take away the flat pass to the wide forward? Teams that take away the D-to-D pass eliminate the hinge play, while teams that take away the cross-ice pass give up the hinge play. These are important reads that help the defensemen choose which of the following options to use.
In this situation, D1 gets the puck just inside the blue line and turns it up quickly by passing to LW or C (figure 2.12). This should be the first option for all teams because speed in transition usually results in odd-man rushes, plus the quick-up play don’t give the opposition time to set up a trap. TW stretches on the wide side and then supports across the ice when the pass is made.
When D1 gets the puck and the strong-side options are taken away, then he should immediately pass the puck to his partner (figure 2.13). Once the pass is made, D1 should sink back to mid-ice to protect his partner in case of a turnover and also to provide an option for D2. D2 passes up to RW, who is in a stretch position by the far blue line, or to C in mid-ice. Once the pass is made the LW moves to support.
D-to-D FLAT PASS
D1 passes to D2 and now the opposition takes away his options to RW and C. D2 passes across to LW, who sinks low into the open seam (figure 2.14). This option is usually available when the opponents forecheck in a 1-2-2 format and lock the center leaving the back side open. When D2 initially gets the pass from D1 he should move up ice and look to make a play up the boards or to the center. This deception will open up the wide side to LW. The pass must be made flat across the ice because a diagonal pass might be intercepted.
D1 passes to D2 and then slides back to mid-ice to support his partner (figure 2.15a). D2 moves up ice and looks to make a pass. With no option available, he passes back to D1, who is behind and in mid-ice. D1 then moves the puck quickly to LW as the primary option or to c. Initially when D1 moves the puck to D2, he has the option to drop back deeper and perform a skating hinge- this is where the supporting defenseman moves back in behind the play and prepares to jump into the hinge pass with speed, catching the opponent off guard. Using the skating hinge also gives this defenseman room to accelerate, time to read the play, and the ability to draw in a checker and move the puck to the best option (figure 2.15b).
When a D1-to-D2 pass is made in the neutral zone, C should support low, but once the puck is passed back to D1 or LW, C should have the option of returning low or moving into the high mid-ice stretch area (figure 2.16) for a potential breakaway pass. If teams check center on center in the neutral zone, this is an effective way to lose your check and split the opponent’s defense.
CHIP BEHIND PRESSURE
Because most teams use tight-checking systems, there isn’t a lot of room in the neutral zone. When a pass is made to a teammate in this area, it is important that the receiver have quick and close support. If the pass receiver is confronted, he will now have the option of chipping the puck into the space behind the checker. The support player can anticipate this and get to the puck first. This is very effective if the pass is confronted by the opposing defenseman stepping up to make a hit. In most cases, the center should be the player who is ready to support the chip (figure 2.17).
DEFENSE SUPPORTING MID-ICE
When a pass is made by a defenseman to a forward in the neutral zone, the passing D should be ready to move up through mid-ice and support the attack (figure 2.18). As the partner of D1, D2 must remain in a strong center-ice position behind the attack. D1 must again read the quality of puck possession to determine how far to move up and how quickly.
Continue Reading: Motion Regroups