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Video Coach

How the Bruins Make the Ice 'Big' Going From Defence to Offence

By Ian Taylor, OMHA Executive Director, 02/15/20, 8:00AM EST

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Puck possession continues to be a key change in the mindset of coaches as the overall skill level of players increases. Practices reflect this change with a focus on speed through the neutral zone and entering the offensive zone with the puck.

But what happens when you don’t have the puck?

When possession is lost, getting the puck back as quickly as possible is critical. The most important element when trying to get possession back is limiting time and space of the team in possession.

Watch how Boston does this effectively to regain possession and exit their zone with support of all 5 players, keeping them all 'in the screen' of the viewer…

5 'In the Screen'

Game Date: June 1, 2019

  • Puck battle is taking place below the goal line
  • All five BOS players are ‘in-screen’ – this is also referred to as ‘loading the box’
  • BOS13 & BOS73 outnumber STL7 on the puck while BOS27 works off the near post providing support and ability to outnumber again if STL90 joins the battle
  • BOS43 is on the strong-side, positioned hash-mark high, with stick on the ice, protecting the good ice inside the dot line. He is available to drop lower to support.
  • BOS90 drops deeper into the low slot to protect net front and can drop further is BOS27 engages in puck battle below the goal line
  • BOS13 emerges with the puck and immediately all five BOS players jump into the attack with toes up ice
  • All five players remain ‘in-screen’ however once in possession, they start to spread out.

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  • BOS13 pulls away from STL7 and establishes puck possession in the middle of the ice
  • BOS43 has swung outside the dot line to create space and support
  • BOS90 provides a close support and BOS27 activates and the 4th man by taking ice wide
  • This provides BOS with possession as well as wide and depth to their attack

Watch the video clip again to see how BOS drops all five players in-screen and outnumbers STL on the puck, taking away time and space and ultimately regaining possession of the puck. As soon as possession is won, all five players react quickly and instinctively to now create time and space providing puck support and width and depth in their attack.

The key concept here is when in possession make the ice as big as possible and when you don’t have the puck, make the ice as small as possible.


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Coaches! Practice this! Encourage outnumbering on loose pucks and battles. Don’t be afraid to put two defencemen in the corner, the first forward into the DZ or the weak-side winger can defend net-front.

Teach breakouts from a ‘stalled-puck’ or puck-battle out of the corner. Practice this situation!

Have a look at the video below from a Chicago Blackhawks practice – it’s a simple drill which involves a board battle, outnumbering and getting goal side on your opponent.

The progression in the video below shows Pittsburgh coach Sergei Gonchar working with a player to work on body position, balance, low centre of gravity and battle without the puck before engaging in a puck battle along the boards.

Possession is so important that the best players in the world need to practice it!


Video Coach is a series of articles which reviews a video clip from game action and then breaks down the sequence into frames identifying key skills, individual and team tactics, strategy and hockey IQ. Video is a great teaching tool that can be used by both players and coaches.

The Hockey IntelliGym is a breakthrough cognitive training technology that hones hockey sense and has been scientifically proven to improve player safety. IntelliGym has been used by thousands of players - from OHL teams to USA Hockey to OMHA Minor Midget champions - to improve individual players' points total, heighten spatial awareness, and foster better anticipation of the play. Research from the University of Delaware suggests training with IntelliGym is a great way to reduce concussions and other on ice injuries. The software, which can be used on any computer, can be purchased here.

"What I'm noticing with IntelliGym is that it compliments my use of area games or situational pressure drills in practice. My players are recognizing and executing their options faster than they have in the past. This improvement has translated to games. They are moving to open areas to support their teammate with the puck."


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ian Taylor is the Executive Director of the OMHA and former Director of Hockey Development. A proud hockey dad of two, Ian has over 25 years of instructional and coaching experience.

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