Offensive Tactics

In order for players to be successful in hockey, they need to have strategies in place to handle many different situations they will face during a hockey game. A tactic = strategy. Players need to utilize many tactics during the course of a hockey game in order to create advantages over their opponents.

There are 2 kinds of Offensive Tactics: Individual and Team.

Here is a summary of the Hockey Canada DVD set dealing with Offensive Tactics. In order to play at higher levels, players need to be comfortable performing these tactics when on offense.

1.1 Skating Fakes
1.1.1 Body Fakes
- shift body inside or outside, drop shoulder, head movement
- a body fake should take place BEFORE the range of an opponent's stick

1.1.2 Stick Fakes
- buys time and space
- performed by moving stick laterally across the body
- can be successful by just by taking hand off your stick

1.1.3 Fake inside/Go outside
- using a combination of head, body and stick fakes
- fake inside, so defender protects the middle of the ice, and then quickly try and beat him on the outside lane - > creates SPACE to the outside

1.1.4 Fake outside/Go inside
- very good tactic as many defenseman know that forwards are taught to drive wide, in the outside lane, so as a forward you do the opposite
- fake your attack on the outside (wide), and then cut into the inside and attack the net hard and quickly - > creates SPACE to the inside

1.1.5 Change of Pace
- creates time and space for the puck carrier
- puck carrier controls the battle
- very effective when going in on a one on one

1.2 Passing Fakes
1.2.1 Fake Pass
- example on a 2 on 1, fake pass to team mate and shoot on net
- another example is to fake the pass and turn back for more support to come
- this often freezes the defender which creates TIME and SPACE for you

1.2.2 Look Away
- Great deceptive tactic, look in one direction and pass to a team-mate in another direction

1.2.3 Fake Pass - toe drag
- normally done when puck carrier is on his forehand
- often done on a 2 on 1, as you approach the defender you fake the pass, drag your toe and get around defender by bringing puck across your body

1.2.4 Fake drop pass
- this often causes the defender to lunge or move laterally (which is good for you)
- normally puck carrier is on his forehand
- once the "fake" drop pass is done, accelerate quickly around your defender

1.2.5 Fake pass - shoot
- this tactic often confuses the goaltender, often performed on a 2 on 1, or 3 on 1

1.3 Shooting Fakes
1.3.1 Fake shot - deke
- used to freeze defender (shot blocking mode)
- often done on 1 on 1 situations, or a defenseman on the point on the PP uses this tactic as defender goes down in order to block a shot (can move around him)
- this tactic should be done behind the range of the defenders reach

1.3.2 Fake wrist shot
- normally done at the top of the face-off circles
- freezes defender which gives attacker space to move laterally around defender

1.3.3 Fake slapshot
- normally done at attacking blue line
- after faking a slapshot, attacker moves puck wide and accelerates around defender

1.3.4 Fake shot - pass
- deceptive tactic, freezes defender
- goaltender often commits to fake shot, key is for the puck carrier to "sell" the shot

1.3.5 Fake shot - shoot
- often done on breakways
- after initial fake shot, move in , get a better angle, and then shoot, in this tactic you try to make the goaltender commit and catch him out of position

1.4 Puck Protection
1.4.1 Puck protection basics
- use body to build a wall between you and defender
- extend your stick and puck out of reach from your opponent
- always keep your feet moving

1.4.2 Puck protection - turnbacks
- this tactic is normally used when you are being pressured (no support options)
- 180 degrees change of direction, perform a tight turn while you protect the puck
- use your body as a wall or shield

1.4.3 Puck protection - loose puck
- this happens along boards or in the open ice, use your stick, skates to hold off defenders
- players need good balance to perform this tactic

1.5 One on One Puck Moves
1.5.1 Attack Triangle - puck under stick
- a triangle is formed by your opponent's skates and hockey stick
- forward can take advantage of this triangle, by moving puck between opponent's skates or stick

1.5.2 Attack Triangle - puck between legs
- draw puck wide outside reach of defender, and then slide through defenders legs
1.5.3 Puck back through legs
- deceptive move, pull puck back between your legs, use toe of stick, defender thinks you will pass

1.5.4 Toe Drag

1.5.5 Body/Puck - opposite
- this is performed by keeping puck out wide (away from your body)
- confuses defender
- should be performed outside range of defenders reach

1.5.6 Double Fake
- use series of head, body, stick fakes

1.5.7 Slider
- very deceptive tactic because defenders rarely see this move performed on them, causes confusion
- draw puck on back of blade and move laterally, then attack

1.5.8 Spin-O-Rama
- protect puck with body and perform a 270 degree turn

1.5.9 360 Move
- opens up space behind defender, normally done at the top of the blue line

1.5.10 Drop puck in skates
- drop the puck from your stick blade to your skates, and kick back out to your stick blade

1.5.11 Puck Outside Defenseman - Body Inside
- Key is to carry the puck wide with only 1 hand on the stick, defender often lunges for the puck, when opening arises bring puck back to your body and attack

1.5.12 Toe Drag - puck off skate

1.5.13 Leave Puck - Go Around
- when defender plays the body, a good offensive tactic is to leave the puck, go around the defender with a big burst of speed, and pick up the loose puck

1.5.14 Miss Puck with Deke - often freezes defender

1.5.15 Flip puck over stick (lateral flip over defenders stick)

1.5.16 Defender as Screen
- keep puck on "outside" of defenders midline, shoot between legs (or side) of defender if you see an opening
- hard for goaltenders to see/read your shot release, very good tactic to use

1.5.17 Heel to Heel Move
- puck is along boards but you do not have much room to maneuver, turn both skates outwards 180 degrees and use momentum to glide on inside edges

1.5.18 Back Pass off Boards - Behind Net
- pass to board behind you (key is to make defender over play the puck)

1.5.19 Bounce puck off net
- same as previous tactic, but use back of the net as a bank pass instead

1.6 Non Puck Roles
1.6.1 Close/Available Support
- players without the puck should always be thinking and moving to an open area - SUPPORT PUCK CARRYER

1.6.2 Picks and Screens
- read and react to play, Step in front of defender to give your team mate more time and space, be careful that you do not get called for interference

1.6.3 Decoy Skate
- pretend that you are about to receive a pass as you are driving to the net, works well on a 2 on 2

1.6.4 Defense Stagger
- done on a D to D pass, when supporting your defensive partner stay behind him as you skate up ice (I like having the D puck carrier skate on his side of the ice and the support D skating up ice in the middle lane, a few strides behind - always SUPPORT your partner)

1.6.5 Flat Skating
- cutting across the blue line, then skating laterally across offensive zone

1.6.6 Control Skating
- non puck carrier should change speeds - confuses defenders (give better passing options)

1.6.7 Facing the Puck Carrier
- this needs to be MASTERED, open pivots, turning properly

1.6.8 Saving Ice
- be able to "NOT" go offside. by skating across the blue line, or opening up on a 2 on 1

Offensive Tactics - Defensive Zone
Once you get possession of the puck in your own end (create turnover, opponent dump in, winning face-off), it is now crucial that all players work together in order to successfully maintain possession of the puck while entering the neutral zone.

2.1 Puck Retrieval
2.1.1 Escape Moves
- puck carrier creates Time and Space by Faking and then performing a tight turn around defender (example Defenseman going into corner to retrieve a puck with a forechecker coming in hard)
- Defenseman should give a head and/or shoulder fake, can skate up ice with puck or pass to a team mate

2.1.2 Puck Retrieval basics
- effective retrieval is essential for initiating breakouts. Need proper execution
- Facing up ice, retriever needs to identify where puck is located, and then pivot to begin retrieval. As he is skating towards the puck, retriever needs to check over shoulder to see where checking pressure is coming from. Make a good fake before picking up the puck.

2.1.3 Puck Retrieval - Quick Up
- if forechecking pressure is coming from the inside, you should perform a tight turn AWAY from the pressure (skate up ice or pass to a team mate)

2.1.4 Puck Retrieval - Wheel
- if forechecking pressure is coming from the outside, and pursuit continues behind the goal, defenseman should quickly round net and turn up ice

2.1.5 Puck Retrieval - Turnback
- if forechecking pressure is coming from the outside, another option is to come to a complete stop, turn, and skate the other way (often done behind the net, when forechecker is in front of the net)

2.1.6 Puck Retrieval - OVERPASS
- non puck carrier Defenseman has responsibilities, must read pressure, offer support
- if pressure is coming straight on, non puck carrying defenseman should communicate and tell partner to pass puck over and away from the oncoming pressure

2.1.7 Puck Retrieval - Reverse Pass
- if checking pressure is coming from the outside, and pressure continues behind the net, call a reverse to your partner (non puck carrier, he must be able to read this and come and support you)

2.2 First Puck Options/Pass Receptions
2.2.1 Direct Pass - Wall
- when defenseman gains control of the puck in the defensive zone, strong side forward needs to provide immediate support along boards (normally a winger, try to get as low as the hashmarks)
- important for forwards to perform a reverse pivot, as they set up for the pass reception, always facing the play, keeping your feet moving and being ready to skate up ice with the puck or pass to a team mate immediately
- Low risk passing option!!

2.2.2 Direct Pass - Midlane
- If wall is not an option, defenseman can choose to pass the puck to the midlane (normally your centerman)
- Important for Center - you need to skate mirroring the flow of the puck staying one stride behind (Timing is Key)

2.2.3 Rim Pass
- when puck carrier (defenseman) does not have any options (to pass or skate up ice) shoot puck along boards

2.2.4 Direct Pass - Relay
- normally occurs when Defenseman passes to forward along wall, who then passes immediately to center in the midlane

2.2.5 - Direct Pass - Punchback
- if winger on the wall receives pass but is under pressure, he has the option to pass back to the defenseman

2.2.6 Direct Pass - Slash
- offside skating winger "slashes" cuts into midlane in order to receive a pass
- strong side winger skates hard along boards to draw defenseman with him

2.2.7 Chip Pass
- sometimes during a breakout you need a second or third pass
- utilize boards to chip to yourself or a teammate (when under heavy pressure do not be scared to chip puck into neutral zone)
Offensive Tactics - Neutral Zone
When the breakout is successful, your team needs to maintain speed and possession through the neutral zone to effectively penetrate the offensive zone

3.1 Two Player Attacks
3.1.1 Cross & Drop
- the cross can be initiated by the puck carrier or the non puck carrier, use drop pass and attack with speed
- criss crosses are a great tactic because they force the defenders to move laterally
3.1.2 Pass & Follow
- puck carrier passes to team mate, they both change lane (confuses defender)

3.1.3 Cross and Carry
- same tactic like cross and drop, but in this case puck carrier retains possession of the puck

3.1.4 Cross & Lateral Pass
- puck carrier and non puck carrier perform a cross in the neutral zone, defender moves laterally with puck carrier, who passes to team mate laterally

3.1.5 Give & Go
- this tactic can be used anywhere in the ice, very effective in the neutral zone
- puck carrier passes to teammate, and then quickly gets into position to get a return pass

3.1.6 Headman
- very effective tactic, increases speed of the rush
- forces defender to adjust to changing point of attack (opens up space offensively)
- need to support QUICKLY in order to support new puck carrier

3.1.7 Stretch Skate & Pass
- increasingly effective offensive tactic
- non puck carrier skates to opposition blue line, receives pass from defenseman in own end
- Breakaway threat

3.1.8 Chip Pass
- when defending player is closing in on puck carrier, he can use boards to chip puck to teammate
- this tactic needs to be practiced often, so players get familiar with boards
3.1.9 Pass Redirection (Touch Passing)
- requires soft hands and you need available support, occurs when you are under heavy pressure you pass the puck to a team mate without stopping it

3.1.10 Area Pass
- used to deliver the puck into a space, where team mate will skate into it (Dump Pass or Flip Pass)
- like LONG BOMB in football

3.1.11 Ladder
- used to move the puck up ice with series of short, crisp, high percentage passes

3.1.12 Jackhammer
- effective way to give puck to a team mate in the neutral zone that has gained a lot of speed
- player that receives initial pass, reads which team mate is best option to pass to
- while facing your own goaltender you one touch pass to team mate

3.2 Regroups & Counter Attacks
3.2.1 Regroups
- when puck carrier is steered to the outside with no passing options, passes puck back to Defenseman (or supporting forward)
- use tight turn or turnback
- this tactic allows your team to keep possession of the puck and re-attack

3.2.2 Counter Attacks
- occurs as soon as defending team regains control of the puck
- the key with counter attacks is to use quick passing to take advantage of opponents weak defensive positioning

Offensive Tactics - Offensive Zone
Once you have successfully entered the offensive zone, you are in excellent position to generate a scoring opportunity

4.1 Attack options off the rush
4.1.1 Net Drive
- ideally attacking team should always be a threat to take puck to the net
- perform a fake, cut in laterally, and quick acceleration to the net
- if coming in from the outside lane, keep feet moving, and cut to middle lane once you have gained a stride on opponent

4.1.2 Middle Drive
- skating in the middle lane, skate HARD to the net and STOP in front for a pass, tip in, etc..

4.1.3 High Delay
- when enter the offensive zone, turn away from the defender to gain time and space, use a tight turn
- once the turn is performed you will have a few options (read the play), 1) you can take the puck to the net, 2) dump the puck in the corner and cycle, 3) pass to open team mate

4.1.4 Low Delay
- when no lane is available to the net, use a low delay in order to keep possession
- you have a few options 1) walk to the net, 2) pass to open team mate, 3) keep possession low in the corner for a cycle

4.1.5 Attack Triangle - drive, drive, high support
- 1-2-3 Attack Triangle (PUCK CONTROL, PRESSURE, BALANCE)
- puck carrier is a threat to attack the net, offside winger drives to the net (back side post), third man offers high support and should shift to puck carrier's lane

4.1.6 Attack Triangle - drive, middle drive, high support
- puck carrier drives from an outside lane towards the net, player in middle lane drives to the net, high support reads middle drive and cuts in to be support pass option

4.1.7 Attack Triangle - puck high, drive, drive
- puck carrier cuts to the middle of the ice near the blue line, both wingers drive to the net from the outside lanes
- this tactic creates a lot of pressure towards the net, be ready for tips, deflections, rebounds

4.1.8 Fourth Attacker
- during specific situations during a game, it is a smart tactic to send a defenseman down low to join the attack
- this tactic makes it difficult for defenders to know who they are covering, creates confusion

4.2 Secondary Options
4.2.1 High Walkout
- puck carrier has control of the puck in the corner, keep feet moving, move in semi circle and drive to the net

4.2.2 Low walkouts
- this occurs when puck carrier creates a seam to the net below or behind the net

4.2.3 Behind the net walkout
- use fake to create lane to front of the net

4.2.4 Wrap around - near post

4.2.5 Wrap around - far post

4.2.6 Fake wrap around - pivot and shoot (normally top corner)

4.2.7 Fake wrap around - pass short side
- pass the puck to a team mate in opposite direction that you are skating behind the net

4.2.8 Give & Go - out of corner
- pass to player in the corner and drive to the net for a return pass

4.2.9 Give & Go - behind net
- a la Wayne Gretzky

4.3 Cycling
4.3.1 Low Cycle
- purpose of cycling is to use the quiet zones of the ice in order to maintain puck possession, spot pass off boards to team mate
- normally the set up is 1 player in the corner, 1 player in the slot, 1 player in front of the net
- confuses defensive coverage, this tactic should open a passing lane to the net
- stress player movement, keep those feet moving at all times

4.3.2 High Cycle
- defenseman moves into cycle and becomes a threat near top of the face off circle

4.3.3 Behind the net Cycle
- puck carrier leaves the puck behind the net, and goes to the front of the net, support forward picks up the puck and moves for play towards the net

4.3.4 Double Side Cycle
- offensive team commits third forward down low
4.3.5 Change point of attack
- this is a great tactic to use if opponents have over committed to a section of the zone

4.4 Attack Options from the Point
4.4.1 Drag & Shoot
- defenseman receives a pass, moves to the center of the ice and shoots on net (better angle and shooting lane)

4.4.2 Sprint and Shoot
- initiated by defenseman from his off wing, push puck to the middle of the ice and shoot

4.4.3 One Timers
- defenseman needs to be set up
- this is a great tactic as it makes it hard for goaltenders since they have to move laterally

4.4.4 Defense Back Door
- weak side defenseman cuts to the net for a shot on net