In-zone offence (IZO) in today’s NHL includes all five players moving to create scoring chances, recover pucks and extend plays. For years, coaches have worked on two- and three-man cycling and only incorporated the defencemen as an outlet off the cycle. But in today’s game we see the defencemen active in all areas and aspects of the offensive zone.
In a story I wrote earlier in the year for TCS, I studied the game in which the Tampa Bay Lightning put up 34 shots on the Chicago Blackhawks in a single period. In that game, the Lightning D were so active and often extended plays that allowed them to have sustained IZO and tire out the Blackhawks.
In reviewing every five-on-five goal from the 2019 Stanley Cup playoffs, I came to the conclusion that every NHL team’s defencemen did six things consistently to extend IZO.