Get the puck to the outside and we all watch TSN
Attacking at the offensive blue line and creating scoring chances off the rush really isn’t all that difficult to teach or to execute. There is one basic rule to follow to set up before reaching the offensive blue line and three simple principles to follow.
Get the puck to an outside lane. In today’s game with players taught to backcheck down the middle applying backside pressure and defencemen taught to protect the middle and give up the outside, there is no reason not to take what one is given. There are only two ways to get the puck to the outside – pass it there or carry it there. Once this is achieved, your players are ready to execute the three principles of the attack.
The puck carrier must be a THREAT. He must attack the blueline with speed and go wide and deep. How wide? Outside the circle. How deep? The hash marks. A threatening player has the puck under control with two hands on his stick and has his head up. He is a threat to do one of three things – shoot, drive the net with the puck or pass. These options can only be accomplished by using speed; the singular most threatening thing he can do is attack the line with speed. Through speed the defenceman will be forced to make a decision quicker than he probably wants to. His decision is pretty simple to begin with – pressure (by stepping up) or contain (by backing up), but with speed we can force him to make the wrong decision or possibly catch him standing still, thinking about it.
Someone must SUPPORT the puck carrier. This is pretty simple too but what the heck is support? In basic terms, supporting the puck carrier means you have to be close, open and ready for a pass. If you want to add something fancier, teach your players that the best position of support when attacking the blueline is to be in the same lane as the puck carrier, behind him and at a 45 degree angle to him. We teach our players to ‘get to the pool’ and teach our threat players to ‘put the puck in the pool’. What the heck is that? Imagine if you will, one of those small inflatable pools your mother blew up, placed in your backyard and filled with water. Now you need to see that pool on the ice at the top of the offensive zone circle, placed so that the center of it is directly above the exact top of that circle. For those of you in Canada, the middle of the pool is the spot where the ringette line touches the circle. Now, there is a little more this to than simply getting to the pool. We need the support player to be travelling north when he arrives; it is not good if he is angling into the pool as he will either eventually hit the boards or end up skating into traffic in the midlane. Here is a simple story to help you teach this.
Think of the defenceman as the security guard working the door to the pool. Our support player has no money and wishes to sneak into the pool. For this he needs our threat guy. If the threat guy attacks wide, with speed, and goes deep, the security guard has no choice but to back up and leave the pool open. The only other problem is the door to the pool. It is one of those revolving doors made with metal bars. It only goes one way and you cannot possibly go through it any way other than straight. So, our support guy has to skate up ice turn to the outside and then turn up ice again once he has lined himself up with the pool door. He then simply waits for our threat guy to distract the guard and he sneaks into the pool.
Someone has to go to the NET. Another simple principle. The third player on our attack should go straight to the net, with speed and with his stick on the ice immediately after crossing the blueline. He should be taking a path to the outside post and stop when he gets there.
A basic progression is laid out in our coach on the go hockey app. Essentially you need to work on each of the three principles first, then work on two and finally all three. The options are innumerable – Threat shoots, Threat drives outside the defenceman and to the net, Threat passes to net, Threat puts the puck in the pool for a one timer, Threat puts the puck in the pool who passes to net, Threat puts the puck in the pool and works a give and go and on and on. You can even incorporate a Threat delay or a centre drive as long as all three principles are fulfilled you will be creating scoring chances in your next game.