Why Defensemen Are the Key to Offense in the Playoffs

In Skills, Tactics by Mike ColdhamLeave a Comment

The days of the stay at home defensemen should be a thing of the past. Teams at every level in every conference on the planet today are looking to recruit athletic defensemen who are strong skaters with excellent technical hockey skills. Of course size matters and is part of the player profile but in today’s game speed and skills should trump a size requirement.

Strategy and tactics have become such an important part of today’s game, and it all ramps up a notch come playoff time. Every coach is looking to take full advantage of the ice surface and the speed and skills of the athletes to create a winning formula. The offensive game plan of the top teams these days includes the defensemen in the strategy and tactics of the game in all areas of the ice surface without restrictions.

And when the pressure increases in the playoffs, the team with the d-men who are willing and able to join the rush and contribute to the offense might be the difference between success and an early tee time.

Teams that play fast understand that supporting the puck offensively and defensively in all three zones is critical to winning the puck possession game. You win the puck possession game and you win the hockey game. There is no better way to win the puck possession game than making full use of your resources on the ice surface to control the puck and advance the puck on the opponent’s net. Spend the least amount of time possible in your own end of the rink.

Mobile Defensemen – Part of the Offensive Game Plan

The following are examples of the things defensemen are being asked to do as part of the offensive game plan to win the puck possession game and create scoring chances:

  1. Joining the Attack Rush with the forwards in the neutral zone.
  2. Coming down off the point into the offensive zone (OZ) to set a passing & shooting lane.
  3. Coming down off the point to obtain a loose puck in the corner, weak or strong side (deep into the OZ) to maintain puck possession and control.
  4. Working the give and go play to get the puck back in all three zones of the rink to be part of advancing the puck on the opponent’s net.
  5. Coming down off the point on a faceoff win to take the puck down the wall below the goal line and advance the puck on net.
  6. Coming late deep into the OZ on the Attack Rush to set a passing and shooting lane.
  7. Moving to open ice to create a passing lane in the OZ to support the puck carrier.

The video below provides you with examples of some of the tasks defensemen are performing in today’s game to support the puck offensively. You’re encouraged to work with young players to support their development by helping them acquire these skills and abilities so they can play at the next level.

The teaching and coaching of the rotation concept ensures coverage for defensemen and the success of their engagement in your offensive game plan.

About the Author
Mike Coldham

Mike Coldham

Mike has over 25 years of coaching experience as a Technical Mentor Coach of people in Business and Sports. Now retired after 35 years of public service, Mike created the TLPF website to support the development of competitive minor hockey players. Mike works with competitive hockey players to help them learn how to play faster which requires tactical knowledge and skills.


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