Playoff fever is in the air here in the lower mainland, on the pro circuit in Switzerland, with the developing grassroots minor hockey programs in South Florida, and everywhere in between. What a time to be a hockey coach! Unless your team is already done *cries uncontrollably*.
The great thing about the playoffs being around the corner in minor hockey and professional hockey is that every team in your league and other leagues is gearing up, so there’s a ton of information and tactics to steal. Case in point: the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Now, you may have heard already that the Tampa Bay Lightning are pretty good. Like, historically good. Part of what makes them so good is the dynamic duo of Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov, the latter of whom was on pace for the most points in an NHL season since 1996 in mid February.
But it’s not just pure talent powering the Lightning. It doesn’t matter how much skill you have, you still need direction from the coaches when play number 1, 2, or 3 doesn’t work. That brings us to one of Tampa Bay’s frequently-used powerplay breakouts: the double drop.
Now, my colleague Gus Katsaros argued for an alternative to the powerplay drop pass, and it inspired me to find an alternative during the formation of the drop pass that worked well. And these days Tampa can make anything work.
Check out the structure as Mikhail Sergachev sets up for the double drop, and the winger release at the red line when the drop is closed off by Philadelphia’s Claude Giroux. Number 18 Ondrej Palat ends up having his choice of passes to make, and because there’s a good structure, the skill takes over and Tampa is in the zone no problem. Palat ends up with a point blank chance soon after too.
From last week, in case you missed it…