At this time of year while teams are grinding through the playoffs it becomes increasingly more difficult for the D to get pucks on net. With a greater commitment to blocking shots and overall team defense, the D are challenged and forced to be creative to avoid killing offense zone possession.
For those of you not familiar with the term “funnelling”, it’s as simple as this: the net is 4’ x 6’, and with forwards in shooting lanes and defense fronting and blocking, there just isn’t the opening to get pucks through and on frame. So, if you can get your D to think that the net is 2’ wider on each side, thus the net becomes 4’ x 10’ there is a greater chance for you to sustain offense and create scoring chances. Funnelling is simply the ability of your D to place pucks into that 4’ x10’ area. If shooting it on the strong side of the net they could be looking for a redirect or to carom the puck off the back boards with the puck exiting on the weak side. If they funnel the puck on the weak side of the net, they are only looking for a high tip or low redirect.
Funnelling the puck is only effective if your forwards understand the concept and make themselves available in either of these situations.
1. A low redirection or high tip
With so much congestion at the net, the D are now finding redirect options with the late player from the outside or corner. Especially when we see pucks go from low to high and then D to D, the originator of the low to high often gets lost and is a great redirect option. Forwards need to not over skate this option and end up in front of the net where there is too much congestion and zero chance of the puck getting there. So the timing of your route is important.
Also, you will see times where the forward is a net front screen and pops his stick out on the strong side in behind the G who has challenged the shooter.
2. Puck retrieval off back boards for a shot
With the forwards already at the net and in behind the D, you have great positioning if the D chooses to funnel the puck off the back wall from the strong side. Puck recovery and proper depth on the weak side are important so that you are also a shooting option upon recovery. The forward retrieving the puck must spin and look to collect the puck coming out the weak side. This play is very difficult for the goalie to recover from his initial depth on the point shot. With good body position on the defending players at the net, the forwards must use their body to protect puck as well.
Although not the sexiest of in-zone offense, the proper execution of this tactic is very challenging to defend and creates additional bonus chances in and around the net.
- 5 Ways to Get More Offense From Your Defense
- Offense Via Puck Possession: Zone Entry Delays
- Creating Offense: Putting Pucks Behind the Opposition’s D