Welcome to defense 101. This class emphasizes mastery of various techniques designed to hone your defensive skills and improve your positional play.
We begin under the impression that you have basic knowledge of the games rules and regulations. Let's get started!
"Offence wins games, defense wins championships"; it's often said, because it's true!
It doesn't matter how dynamic an offence you have, or how skilled a scorer you are, if you can't keep the other team off the scoreboard, you might find yourself on the other side of the win column more often than not.
Whether your new to the game or a callused fingered vet, the tips I've provided below should help tighten your D.
~ Positional Play
I've always been a disciple of the theory that, in hockey, offense and defense are one in the same; because the transition between the two are nearly instantaneous, you have to be in position and ready when there's a turnover that quickly puts you on guard.
Here are some quick tips for sound positional play.
Don't carry the puck with your D-men deep into the offensive zone. If a turnover occurs (from an errant pass perhaps), you could be facing a breakaway.
If your the last man back, don't go for the big hit. If your opponent anticipates your check, and you happen to miss, he will have a clear path to the net for a easy goal.
In a odd man rush (2 on 1 maybe) close the gap by homing in on the puck carrier while defending (by good positioning) his passing lane to the free man.
Never over pursue. Shadow the man with the puck by cutting off his space or passing lanes. If there's a turnover quickly peel back to a defensive position.
Suffocating positional play will lower your goals against average and frustrate your opponent, causing him to make mistakes that you can turn into scoring chances.
Everyone loves big hits; if your not on the receiving end that is. It's part of what makes hockey, and NHLPA'93 such a great game.
After playing the game for a while it's fairly obvious that using the check button (C) not a very effective way of separating the player from the puck in open ice. Many a time a player you check will absorb the blow, and just keep on trucking. Whether it's by design or a flaw in the game is irrelevant; it just is. Fortunately there are ways of taking a player down in open ice.
So what's the most effective way of checking in open ice? The poke check! Yes, believe it or not, it's the most effective way of laying a player out, all you need to know is how. The sequence for doing the poke check is below.
|Fall back into position
|Poke check (B)
|Take control, do figure 8's
It's very simple. Draw a bead on your opponent, get shoulder to shoulder, and as you collide administer the poke check (B).
It may not be the most savory tactic, but it works and the ref will rarely blow the whistle on you for tripping.
To close it out, here are a few other tips that will help bolster your D.
If you have trouble tracking crafty players with good speed and agility; don't play the skater, play the zone and cover the net.
When you see a player skate laterally across the ice on the forehand he's probably getting ready for a slapper. Step in a poke check.
Eventually you will find yourself shorthanded. Best way to handle the situation is to stay in front of the net and try to kick out any rebounds.
Pay attention to a teams top player; shadow him where ever he is (without or without the puck). A vet is going to get him the puck at all costs, make him beat you by other means.
When in doubt hook! It will tie up your man and the ref almost never calls it.