December 30, 2008
Back Up the D, Yes; Back Off the Puck Carrier, No

In general, I'm a fan of staying up at my point. I can cycle*, sort of, but I'm totally fine with staying high most of the time in the defensive zone. I'm not great at getting control of the puck when it comes out to the point, but I'm fairly decent defensively and can usually block a shot or keep my check from doing much other than popping the puck forward blindly.

More importantly, by staying high I'm not clogging up the slot and causing confusion, and I'm backing up the opposing D if we get control of the puck. (This is something Billy taught us; by moving out of the defensive zone aggressively, we force the D to back up instead of trying to hold the blue line.)

It also happens that I'm a fan of forechecking. I've forced lots of turnovers by forechecking in the offensive zone, some of which have even resulted in goals. I usually *don't* forecheck in the defensive zone, for the reason stated above: namely, I'm covering the point and trying to avoid clogging up the slot and confusing our D. There are exceptions, however, and this is one:

The girl carrying the puck was their slowest, most tentative player, and yet we kept backing up whenever she got the puck. Maybe it was her strange skating style that froze us all (we tended to stop and stare at her, slack-jawed), but whatever it was, I finally got sick of just letting her walk around unchallenged. I left my point and and skated straight at her, offensive-zone forechecking-style... and she passed to Carol. :-)

*Incidentally, this video also shows me cycling a bit; Carol had come up to the point at the beginning of the clip, so I'd covered the slot. We switched when the D sent the puck around the boards.

Posted by Lori at 10:47 AM

December 28, 2008
Breakaway Backhander

I've been working on my backhanded shot for a while now (maybe two years?), but more earnestly over the past few weeks. There are two main scenarios in which I want to use it: (1) on breakaways, where I come down the left side, cross in front of the crease, and flip the puck into the net (I'm a left-handed shot playing Left Wing), and (2) on faceoffs in the offensive zone when I'm lined up on the goal-side hashmarks. The idea in scenario #2 is to grab the puck and flip it into the net from a standstill.

I've had some success with both scenarios—but especially #1—while practicing by myself during warm-ups, and a couple times while skating against goalies during practice or pickups, but I haven't gotten a good backhander off in a game. (I did score a goal in an almost #1 scenario when I first joined the Freeze in 2006, but if I remember correctly, I just knocked it in five-hole rather than trying to lift the puck over a sliding goalie.)

Part of the reason I hadn't really tried it is that I haven't had that many opportunities, and also because I'm somewhat inconsistent with this shot. I probably fling half my shots hard and high into the back of the net; about a third of them never leave the ice or only come up a few inches; and the remainder fly over the crossbar and into the glass.

In our last game (or my last game, I should say, since I missed the team's last game due to a sick Beaner), I spent several minutes during the warmup working on the backhander with about the same success percentage as usual. Without a goalie in the net, however, I wasn't sure how successful those shots would really be in a game. I decided that if I had a chance in this game, I'd find out.

Answer: Not very—at least in this case, where I didn't get the shot nearly high enough. I'd totally try it again, though (and I'll also keep the fake-deke in my mental toolbox, since a last-minute decision *not* to cross over and backhand the puck worked against a guy goalie in a pickup game this past summer—probably because the backhander had worked the first time. :-).

Posted by Lori at 6:29 PM