Excerpt From: Hockey Plays and Strategies
Today’s game of hockey can be characterized by two focuses and two words: special teams. Over the past few seasons, all levels of hockey have endured much change. Most of this change stems from an increased attention by officials on the obstruction that had snuck into our game. Players and coaches had become very adept at running interference and slowing down not only the game but also its most skilled players. A by-product of this change is a gigantic increase in the volume of penalties and an obvious impact that power plays and penalty kills have on the outcome of each game.
The penalty kill has in many ways turned into an art. Players who in years past may have played a lesser role because of their lack of offensive gifts are now playing a major role making sure that the opposing power play does not affect their team’s chances of winning. Here are the keys to successful penalty killing.
- Outwork the power play. Most PP units will relax to a degree because of the extra man, so be prepared to significantly outwork them.
- Win face-offs. Possession of the puck and a quick clear will not only force the PP unit to go back 200 feet (61m) for the puck but will also frustrate the PP unit, which is what you want.
- Talk. Communication improves positioning and awareness
- No big hits. Never hit on the PK, as tempting as it is; you should only “bump and run.” It is a priority to keep your feet moving and pressure the opponent. Making a big hit takes players out of the play which you can’t afford when already down one player.
- Have an active stick. Keep it on the ice at all times and in the right passing lane.
- Get body position in shooting lanes. And know when to go down to block shots. Blocking shots can be a big boost to the penalty kill.
- When in the zone, pressure the puck in straight lines – rebound back into position quickly after you pressure, and lead with you stick as you return.
- Compete hard for loose pucks.
- When clearing the puck, make sure it goes 200 feet (61m). Try to score only when you have a lane to take the puck into the offensive zone.
- Never get tied up with the player at the net. Most leagues prevent you from moving that player legally, so once he is there, do not create a double screen in front of your goaltender; play around him and have an active stick. Players coming out of the penalty box must know where to go. Coaches should set rules for all players coming out of the box when the puck is in your end.