January and early February are big months for looking back on hockey in the year previous. Top ten shows and highlight reels are rewound to feature big plays from the first few months of the current season as well as playoff action from last season.
This year is no different.
One of the recurring themes from this year’s look back at goals scored in 2017 is the ability of the planet’s best players to protect the puck and maintain their speed. Gone are the days of fourth line grinders lagging the puck behind the net for 45 seconds at a time simply to burn minutes off the clock. No, these days puck protection is an important skill for each player throughout the lineup.
And not only do players need to protect the puck while keeping their feet moving (because every defender can skate in the modern game), they need to keep their head up and look for potential options.
Connor McDavid, I‘m looking at you. One such puck protection speciality on last year’s highlight reel involved McDavid fighting off two defenders in the corner of the offensive zone, before exploding with three quick strides to his own blueline. This move activated Oscar Klefbom off the blue line. McDavid then shielded the puck from another defender, before hitting Kelfbom with a pass on the opposition’s goal line. Klefbom then threaded a pass through a set of skates onto the tape of Patrick Maroon, who had established body position on his opponent.
Sure, that’s Connor McDavid. He’s the best in his league. But he’s not the only one developing the skill of puck protection. Players in your league who want to take the next step in their development ought to familiarize themselves with all the options that will open up for them when they get better at protecting the puck.
Glenn Carnegie delivers an excellent on-ice puck protection presentation in this edition of Pro Skills and Drills, check out a snippet below.
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- Glenn Carnegie: What Do Players Do After They’ve Retrieved the Puck?
- Vancouver Canucks Skill Coach Glenn Carnegie: Puck Protection
- Passing the Puck with Mats Lindgren: Pro Skills & Drills