This is a special series of six posts published over the holidays to help coaches watch the skills and tactics that lead to Team Canada’s success (or lack thereof) at the 2019 World Junior Tournament.
Part of the template guiding modern coaches at the minor hockey level, college level, pro level, and everywhere in between is the advent of defensemen joining the rush. Gone are the days when a young’n would ask “Is it ok for me to rush the puck? Cuz my last coach wouldn’t let me.” Now, a defensemen leading the rush three or four times a period would be pretty scary, but if you’ve made it work for you, then good work. Send me the video.
it’s not so much rushing the puck as it is joining the rush as the fourth wave. Once the puck is broken out from close support, the weak-side D-man can join in to offer a release for the forwards and take it from there. Or what were seeing more and more of are forwards delaying once they cross the offensive blue line and hitting d-man who’s beat his or her backchecker up the ice.
Note: it’s not for everyone. you’ve got six different defensemen in any given game – some are going to be more willing to jump up in the play than others. And that’s fine too. Put a rusher with a non-rusher and you’re all set!
Team Canada boasts a wealth of smooth defensemen on the back end this year, so I’ll be paying special attention to how often they join the play to create odd man rushes, specifically who’s doing it, and whether their aggression leads to chances at either end.
D-men joining the rush, watch for it!