Excerpt From: Hockey Plays and Strategies
Sometimes coaches need to have in their back pockets a tactic or philosophy that simplifies the offense into a couple of simple ideas. The funnel (figure 3.10) is one of these. Many coaches like the funnel because its main emphasis is to get pucks to the net through traffic. The funnel philosophy says that once a player carrying the puck crosses the top of the offensive face-off circles, that player has only one option: placing the puck toward the front of the net. Under these instructions, the other two offensive forwards should not be trying to get open for a pass but should be driving hard to the net looking for a second-chance rebound. In other words, everything-the puck and the players-get funneled toward the front of the net. If 70 to 80 percent of all goals scored come off of a second chance created by a rebound, then the funnel simplifies how to make this happen. In every league the leading scorers are the ones who take the most shots. They understand the funnel philosophy-get the puck to the net. Volume of shots is key.
Figure 3.10 The funnel.
The funnel opportunity gets maximized if the player carrying the puck into the offensive zone and placing the puck toward the front of the net is an offensive defenseman (figure 3.11). Obviously, this frees up all three offensive forwards to skate into prime position and jump on any loose pucks to create second shots. When shooting from the outside players should recognize that they aren’t trying to score. At most levels the goaltending is too good and few are beat from these wide angles. The main objective is to hit the net and create a rebound for the players going to the net. Therefore shoot low for the wide pad and 90 percent of the time a rebound will come out into the slot. It is very difficult for any goaltender to deflect this type of shot to the outside.
Figure 3.11 The funnel with an offensive defenseman.
The funnel play is also a simple way to activate the mid-ice defenseman. If the defenseman on the rush has speed to attack the net off the rush, then many coaches give the attacking defenseman permission to attack the front of the net, with one rule-once the play turns from a rush to a forecheck, the attacking defenseman must return quickly and directly to the blue line. Another simple rule for the offensive defenseman joining the rush or joining the attack is the function of time. Many coaches prefer that their defensemen not join the rush or the attack with minutes to go in the period or the game, especially if the team is winning by a certain margin.
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