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Offensive Zone Entries

Offensive Zone Entries

Excerpt From: Hockey Plays and Strategies

In this chapter, we deal with plays entering the offensive zone. Whether the rush starts from a successful breakout in the defensive zone or results from a counter or regroup in the neutral zone, offensive zone entry is a key strategy for generating successful scoring chances.

Entering the offensive zone in control of the puck is every player’s goal. Not turning the puck over when entering the offensive zone is every coach’s goal. Let’s face it. We play this game to battle for and enjoy possession of the puck. Puck possession needs to be a key underlying philosophy, not only for playing hockey at a high level but also for its enjoyment.

Coaches universally get disappointed with players who needlessly lose possession of the puck in two areas. The first is the 7 or 8 feet (2.1 or 2.4 m) just outside the blue line, and the second is the 7 or 8 feet (2.1 or 2.4m) just inside the blue line. Players turning over pucks in these two critical areas tend to hear about it. Why? When the puck is turned over here, the opposing team can counter quickly and create outnumbered attacks. This happens because the two forwards without the puck tend to be anticipating the puck going deep, and they are in that “flat” vulnerable position along the blue line with no speed (figure 3.1).

When playing five on five, a player with the puck wide entering the offensive zone must read the opponents’ pressure. If the gap between the player with the puck and the defender is large or adequate, obviously the attacking player keeps possession of the puck and enters the attacking zone. If the player with the puck senses pressure, then the cross-ice dump or chip are two tactics used to reduce this pressure and ensure a chance for puck possession deeper in the zone. Coaches should set up practice drills which incorporate this read. Drills which allow the puck carrier to react to varying gaps by the defender and also varying pressure; all help to make these decisions with the puck more automatic and successful in game action.

Figure 3.1 Turnover at the blue line.

Dump-In Entries

Mid-Ice Entries

Wide-Lane Drives

The Funnel

Two-on-One Attacks

Two-on-Two Attacks

Three-on-Two Attacks

Offsides

Activating Defense into Offensive Zone Entries

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