Excerpt From: Hockey Plays and Strategies
Most coaches prefer outside-drive entries because there is usually less chance for a dangerous turnover. Players who enter the offensive zone with the puck in the middle of the ice bring with it the opportunity for the defenseman to stand up and make an open ice hit. Most major open ice hits occur as players are carrying the puck into the middle of the ice on offensive zone entries (figure 3.6). ex) Scott Stevens or Dion Phaneuf-like
Figure 3.6 Mid-ice entry open ice hit.
Many talented and offensively gifted players use this middle-ice space to pass off to teammates coming from behind the play with speed. This entry tactic exceptional when executed properly because back speed-players moving from behind the puck carrier with more speed than the puck carrier can completely catch defenders off guard.
The back-side pass upon middle entry (figure 3.7) is the most difficult to execute because it requires more skill, but it is always the most effective. Players gifted with the puck often carry it across the middle of the offensive zone just inside the blue line and then pass back toward the space where they have just come from to a player with vertical speed. The effectiveness of this entry comes from shifting the defenders sideways, with the puck carrier thereby opening up space for the player on the back side to enter the zone.
Figure 3.7 Mid-ice entry back-side pass.
A second option for the puck carrier in mid-ice (F1) is to drive across the line through the middle and then bump the puck to the outside player stationary at the blue line (F2). As F1 continues to drive to the net, this will free up space and time for F2 to shoot or make a play. F2 will have the option to shoot with F1 screening the goaltender, pass across to F3, or hit the late D1 moving in. If there are no options available, then F2 can lay the puck behind the net to F1 for low puck possession. This “ladder play” is one of the most effective plays for drawing the defense in tight as F1 enters the zone then pushing them back as F1 passes off and drives to the net. It definitely creates a lot of defensive coverage confusion (figure 3.8).
Figure 3.8 Midlane ladder play.
Continue Reading: Wide-Lane Drives