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Why coaches should seek a balanced lineup instead of ‘loading up’ the top line

In Coaching Hockey, Tactics by Ryan StimsonLeave a Comment

During the fall season, hockey coaches throughout the world are running practices to get their team ready for opening night.

Part of this process involves trying several line combinations to see what works best to start the season. This is a dilemma every coach faces.

Do you spread out the talent in your lineup? Do you load up your top two lines and just try to limit the minutes of your bottom-six? Who best complements another player?

All of the answers to these questions can be influenced by circumstance as well. Penalties, score state, and time remaining all impact a coach’s bench management.

But how a coach operates from a strong base lineup is the key.

Let the analysis provide a solid foundation and then allow coaches to make in-game changes to maximize win probability when they see an opportunity to gain an edge.

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About the Author
Ryan Stimson

Ryan Stimson

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Ryan has written extensively on hockey analytics since 2013. He has pioneered work in player evaluation and game strategy, leading the popular Passing Project for several seasons. Ryan has contributed on analytics and published new research at Hockey Graphs, but also has written on using data to better evaluate hockey tactics. He consulted for RIT Men’s Hockey Team from 2015 - 2018 and coached a 14U team as well. Ryan is a Certified Level III USA Hockey Coach. He has published a book you can buy on Amazon, Tape to Space: Redefining Modern Hockey Tactics, that draws on insights gained from data analysis to optimize how teams should play hockey.

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