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Offensive tips that will make you a better hockey player

Offensive zone tips

Take the puck across the net

Puck through crease

If you happen to find yourself approaching the net with speed or if you’ve just beaten a defender wide, you should almost always take the puck across the crease if you can.

When goalies come out to challenge a shooter, particularly if they trust that a defensive player will be able to block a player from cutting across the net, they tend to come out fairly aggressively. If your sole mindset is to get across the crease and tuck one in, you just may be able to. Even if the goaltender doesn’t come out hard, cutting across opens him up – his five-hole, his armpits, everything. Anything you can put on net from there has a better chance of going in than shooting on a set tender.

Bonus: when taking it across the crease you have so many options for a garbage goal, as well as the one you’re trying to pull off. Whether it goes in off a D mans skates, ping pongs round the crease or accidentally goes through the 5-hole. 

Change speeds on the rush

St. Louis Blues v Los Angeles Kings
LOS ANGELES, CA – MARCH 13: Trevor Lewis #22 of the Los Angeles Kings skates with the puck against Alexander Steen #20 of the St. Louis Blues during the game on March 13, 2017 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.

You can do it either way (quick to slow, slow to quick), but something you see Datsyuk, Kane, Crosby or Petterson and their kind do very well is fly into the zone, then tap the brakes, this does a few things:

  • Temporarily freezes the D-men, stopping or slowing while backing up limits your mobility
  • Creates gap between you and the D-men, giving you more time and options
  • Allows your team-mates to catch up, which gives you even more options
  • Allows you to move laterally – again, more options

You can also do it the other way – skate in casually until the D-man decides to engage, then boom, hit the gas, take it round the D-man and shoot on net.

Bonus: if you go fast to slow, the defenders back in deep, and can work as great screens for a shot.

Change the angle on shots

Change the angle of the puck to the net

It doesn’t take much to turn what would be a save into a goal. The trick is to have the puck out a bit wider than where you would normally shoot from, then give it a little toe pull into your feet before pulling the trigger. If the goalie was square to where the puck was initially, you’ve now got it coming at him from a slightly different angle just seconds later. Even if you pull it in and choose to shoot it across the tender, it just forces him to compensate for one more thing.

Not only change changing the angle force a goalie into a poor position, you also have to be aware of “Shooters Illusion” where the view of puck is completely different to the view from the shooter – a great video from HowToHockey explains the effects of shooters illusion and how to see the net from the eyes of a puck

Bonus: goalies over-estimating the pull-shot can leave their other side wide open

Overestimate the angles

Change the angles

It’s easy on tipping a slap-pass or taking a one-timer to push the puck past the net on the non-playing side (on the right side in the photo above). When the puck is coming hard from play-zone (the left hand side in the above photo), with kinetic energy, it naturally wants to keep going on the direction it’s travelling. If you over-estimate the angle a bit, not only do you give yourself huge room for error, it also gives you more options by either getting trapped under the goalie, being rebounded into the play-zone again, or getting a weak rebound – are all far better options than a weak tip to the non play-zone and the puck being taken out on a rush play by defenders close to the net.

Bonus: if you miss the angle you want and tip or shoot it back into the goalie, you’ve now got a scramble in front and the possibility of a garbage goal, unlike a weak angle and a missed net.

Take a look – you have more time than you think

No blind passes

After all the work you’ve taken to get the puck into the offensive zone, you’re now behind the goal or to the side – what do you do.. a blind pass from behind the net in the hope of hitting a team-mates stick? Don’t do it. Even if you’re being pressured by a D-man.. a blind pass from behind the goal line, will most likely create a break-out opportunity from the defensive team, and where are you? Behind the play.

If you take half a second to create some time, move the puck, change the angle, it can create a scoring opportunity. Even if you’re pressured and lose the puck, the puck is still trapped deeply in the offensive zone and the defensive teams has to do a lot of work to get it out. You’ve created more opportunities of a placed pass to the crease, a banked pass to your D-men on the point, finding another team-mate to change the angles and a shot on goal.

Bonus: if you take your time and pass and you’re behind the net, you’re already in a position to pickup any rebounds or weak shots

In summary, strong players make options – be the player who creates those opportunities for your team

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