NHL 14: Written Guide to Offense
Written By: 302Productions
Oh Offense. The most exhilarating part of hockey, and yet the most complex. In this guide, I will explain how to master the essence of offense that so many have trouble with in NHL 13.
STOP CHERRY PICKING
Before we all get excited over goal scoring, there are other essential skills that you will need in your NHL club or in simple versus mode. This first objective we will uncover here is how to get the puck out of the zone without waiting at the opponent’s blue line all period.
Let’s start in the defensive zone, in a situation where your defense has the puck and is looking for an outlet pass. Half the battle in breaking out is positioning, so make sure you know where to be on the ice!
- The center should be in the center of the defensive zone, acting as an easy pass if the wingers are not open.
- The wingers, who recognize that their defenseman has the puck, should be turning up ice and skating up the boards on their respective sides, looking for a clean opening for a pass from either the center or the defenseman.
If all else fails, take the space the opposition is giving you. If all forwards are covered, that means that the three defensive forwards are on them. Carry it up until you feel the pressure, then either dump it in or pass to a forward if open.
Now that we have the puck out the the defensive zone, the focus turns to keeping the puck going forward. An effective neutral zone breakout can be summed up in one phrase, “Keep the momentum!”. Too many teams try to force themselves into the offensive zone, accompanied by several stops and starts, and often offsides. To prevent those deadly neutral zone turnovers, forwards should stay to the outside, and keep your body between the puck and the defenseman.
One way of doing this is to hold the A button, which shields the puck. To do this effectively, the center should rarely try to enter the zone himself, unless the defense is playing very conservative. This is rarely the case, so pass it off to the wingers when playing against an aggressive front line. As stated before, a defenseman who has the puck should carry until pressured, and get rid of the pick quickly to another player or dump it in.
Now, this is where most teams lose their smarts. It is obvious that most teams won’t let you carry the puck right into their zone every rush. Listen to me here, because you might read this, but when it comes to gametime, you’re like to forget it. It might not be the coolest or most popular method to use, I know. But… DUMP AND CHASE! Everyone hates dumping and chasing, or (D and C). It is worse when you are losing. But it is the only way to have a clean breakout no matter what team you are facing. D and C can be used by any player, at any time as long as it is practiced.
Dump and Chase
The key to dumping the puck in successfully is to dump the puck in while the other forwards are in a full sprint. It is neither wise nor effective to dump the puck in while your teammates are in a slowed or stopped position. Let’s break D and C down into position.
As a defenseman in the neutral zone, the easiest way to dump the puck in effectively is the slap shot the puck around the net to an incoming winger. To do this, refrain from shooting the puck from the middle of the ice, and shoot the puck like you would a normal slapshot, except this time hold down LB. This will shoot the puck along the boards, and around the net if you have enough power. During this play, the wingers should be going at a full sprint into the zone, so they have enough speed to get to the puck before the opposing defenseman.
As a forward, dumping the puck in can be very different that dumping it in as a defenseman. The most effective way to dump the puck is to cross corner dump. This dump is where the puck is dumped high over the defensemen’s heads, and lands in the opposite corner from the player who dumped it. To preform this dump, simply hold down the RB and flick the RS forward, using the LS to aim it. The same logic applies to your backhand, except you start the dump with your stick in the backhand position. If you have your other winger going full speed, this play can be your main offensive tool for success.
Offensive Set Up
We are almost to goal scoring! But first, we will go over the various set ups in the zone.
Before we go into full team set up, let’s talk about the quick rushes, 2 on 1′s, and similar senarios. These rushes are very easy to get a good scoring chance out of, as long as you follow the sacred rule of NO CROSS CREASES. A good team can never get tired of seeing a opposition’s odd man rush soiled over a horrible pass into the defenseman’s skate or stick. So please, this isn’t NHL 12, so stop acting like it is. Ok, now that we have that out of the way, lets come back to quick rushes. Now that forced cross creases are out of bounds, what do we have left? Well passing is a very good tool, as long as you aren’t doing so into a D-man’s stick or skates. To pass effectively on a quick rush, pass when the defensman is caught facing the wrong direction, when his stick is busy, or my favorite, when he has his hands all close in (because of EA’s horrible preparing for a hit animation) and has his stick off the ice. If you are one of those guys that NEEDS to pass it when a defenseman is there, try a saucer pass, by just tapping the RB. This lifts the puck into the air, and with some luck over the defenseman’s stick.
If you are going to shoot on an odd man rush, the location of the shot should depend on your location in the zone. If you are at or higher than the top of the faceoff circle, chances are you are not going to snipe it. So instead, take a shot low to the opposite pad side of the goalie, hopefully generating a rebound for your other forward. If he his not perched in the crease, take a more powerful shot. Opposively, if he is close to the goalie, shoot a softer shot, making a smaller rebound. If you are in the faceoff circle or closer, you can take your chances and try to snipe it, or shoot for a rebound. Either way will result in a decent scoring chance.
Moving the Puck
If anyone knows the 302Productions EASHL team, it is based off of team offense when it comes to the offensive zone. This idea, opposed to several quick rushes, is what generates much of our success.
Team offense simply is getting all five men into the zone and “setting up” in it. To get the whole team into the zone, the puck has to either be held long enough for the defensemen to get into their positions, or in deep enough to give them time to enter.
As a winger that has carried it into the zone, keep the puck to the outside as much as you can, and then either find an outlet to another forward, pass it around the net to the other winger, or go to the defenseman who has just entered the zone.
A center has a harder job keeping the puck in the offensive zone, simply because he is coming in the center of the ice. This is why it is easier to give it to a winger when breaking out. If you do have the puck as a center when entering the zone, either take a shot on goal to get a faceoff or rebound, or pass it to a winger if open.
If the puck is passed to you as a defenseman, the chances are you are going to be greeted by a friendly opponent who just wants to talk. In this circumstance, take a quick wrist shot opposed to a pass, because the game makes in much harder for a player to stop a shot compared to a pass. If you do have space, then you can either look at a winger along the boards, take a slap shot, or pass it across to your defensive partner. This play can be very costly if picked off, and will most likely result in an opposition breakaway. For these reasons, only pass to the other defenseman if there is no one even close to the lane that could break it up, no matter how high your passing is.
If the puck has been dumped in, it is already in deep. It is the job of a forward to get the puck and then find an open lane or shot.
The main idea behind moving the puck is not forcing passes at any time, and if all else fails, take a shot on goal. The worst thing that can happen is a faceoff, which lets you calm down and set up again.
A team’s powerplay really depends on what your team is compiled of. Therefore I will not go in depth on every method of doing so. Instead I will focus on the set up that I have found to be successful, which is the umbrella set up.
In umbrella, the powerplay is centered around a strong defenseman, therefore it can only work if you have good chemistry and a smart and decisive D-man. During the powerplay, set up with your defenseman who has the best slap shot as the primary target. The objective is to have the wingers down low on in the zone, looking to drag in the opposing forwards. As soon as they bite just enough, pass it to your defenseman who can take a wide open slap shot, with the center screening the whole time. If there is a considerable amount of traffic in front, take a low shot hopefully generating a rebound. A high shot will most likely hit a body and not generate a chance.
Once you get the fundamentals down on the umbrella format, then you can mix it up. You can develop plays that work with your team, such as a D to D pass with on defenseman ready for a one timer, for example.
Forchecking is where the momentum is won in many games. Mastering this aspect of the game is what brings a team above many others in the skill department, and is also a aspect that many teams are missing. Sure, every team thinks they can forecheck, but that doesn’t equate to all the forwards chasing the D-man with the puck around the zone. Forchecking must be done very carefully to work correctly. Let’s go in on when and how to forecheck.
First, let’s talk early in the game or when the game is tied. You can try to set the tone by having a strong forecheck, but either it works or the opposition takes control, there isn’t a moderate result. Early on, it is wise to have a 2 man forecheck with both the wingers going after the puck after a dump or a scoring chance. while the center sits up higher looking to cover possible passing lanes for the opposition. The easiest way to forecheck is to lock someone in, and never be on the same side of the other forechecker. If you have a man on each side, the defenseman has very little space to manuver, and is forced to make a quick and difficult pass. If you do get the puck and have control cleanly, the center can start to come in lower for a pass in the slot and take a good wrister.
Now lets talk when you are down and time’s running out. This is when you start to break off your laid back state. When it becomes extremely urgent to get a goal, (I am not talking ten minutes left in the game and down by one) you can turn into a three man forecheck instead of two, with your defensemen coming up to try to pinch against a puck coming out of the zone. The center can now stay lower in the slot, or can even join in in attacking the player with the puck.
Finally, when forechecking when you have the lead, always keep in mind how much time is on the clock. When there is considerable time left, keep the two man forecheck going just to keep the foot on the throat of the other team. Otherwise, when the clock is running out, turn into a one main forecheck, where your best forechecking winger is in deep while your other two forwards are up top looking to cut off the opposition’s passing lanes.
Alright boys, I hope this guide can help you learn how to be more effective and play a more team based offense, opposed to a quick rush kind of team. As a defenseman in Elite EASHL Club, I have seen many play styles, and the most effective is the D and C, accompanied by a strong “five men in deep” offensive set up.
If you have any questions, message me on my channel, youtube.com/the302productions.