Do you want to sound like an expert to impress the hockey fan in your life? Well, here at The Hockey Writers, we have you covered. Learning just a few or all of the following concepts will go a long way to helping you talk about puck with die hard puck heads. Advanced Hockey Concepts 601 is now in session.
Anchor– A brutally slow defenseman who drags down his defense partner with poor decisions.
Birds Nest: Area of netting attached to the crossbar where the goalie keeps his water bottle.
The Michigan: When a player corrals the puck up onto the blade of his stick and lifts it into the birds nest.
Datsyukian Deke: An often heard alliteration because Detroit Red Wings star Pavel Datsyuk makes mind boggling dekes on a regular basis.
The Magician– Speaking of mind boggling phenomena, another nickname for Datsyuk.
Rink Rat– Used in a couple of ways, one being the skating version of a “gym rat.” But can also can be used for an annoying and often cheap/dirty player.
The Slot– More or less the area in front of each net between the face-off circles.
Strong Side/Weak Side Support: Based off where the puck is at any given moment, supporting the strong side is supporting the puck carrying teammate on that side of the ice. Weak side support is showing for an outlet pass in the empty space on the other half of the rink (in this case splitting the rink in half long ways).
2-1-2 Forecheck– One of the more basic forechecking alignments is to have two forwards pressuring the opponents two defenseman behind the net. The third forward remains higher in the zone to read how the play develops and either back off to defend or jump up in the play for a turnover. The last two in the 2-1-2 is obviously the defenseman keeping track of the opposing forwards.
Seven Hole– Under the arm and above the pad on either side of the goalie.
Head on a Swivel– Pretty self explanatory, got to be scanning in all directions to make sure you know where the puck is and where everyone else is on the ice. And make sure you don’t have your head down staring at the puck. Don’t want to get rocked by a big hit like this one below.
Back Door– Most often you’ll hear the phrase “back door” when a team is on the power-play. Penalty killers often get sucked over to one side of the ice, and cross-ice passes through the four-man defensive box to a player near the far post often get referred to as “back door” goals.
Gap Control– Arguably the most important part of defending a fast paced rush is gap control. What this means is defenseman don’t want to give forwards too much room while they back skate towards their own zone. They also don’t want to step up, stab at the puck and let the player get around them. This isn’t just a defenseman’s responsibility alone though. It is much easier for the defensemen to maintain good gap control when they can read that their forward teammates are back-checking hard. That way the defenseman know that if they step up and only kind of break up the play, their back-checking teammate will be in position to help recover the puck. Otherwise with little back-checking pressure, the defenseman usually give up more space to the puck carrier so that they don’t get beat one-on-one.
Forward Weave– Forwards don’t just skate on the left side all night as a left wing, center as a center and right side as a right wing. They inter change all the time, especially on the rush, to make it more difficult for the defenders to communicate who is going to man up with who.
Defensemen Switch– Similarly, depending on the situation, defenseman will often switch responsibilities with an oncoming rush. Often what happens is one defenseman slides over to help the other out on his side because he has a better angle at the play, and then his partner then goes and covers the vacated area or attacking player. Communication whether verbal or non verbal is huge for defenseman to know whether to stay in their current lanes or to switch lanes to stay with particular forwards. The attacking rushers are hoping to create that miscomunication, because even a split second of indecision can create the time and space need for a Grade A scoring chance.
Third Man High– Sometimes when teams are pushing for a late goal, third man high will go out the window. In most cases though teams look to keep at least one forward high in the offensive zone in order to avoid three-on-two odd man rushes the other way. If when a team is cycling they get caught with three forwards below or near the goal-line, a bad bounce can quickly escalate into a three-on-two the other direction. Hockey is a game of flow, and players interchange in areas on the ice, so keeping an eye on where your teammates are is key. Defensemen sometimes jump up into the play and forwards need to cover their spot at the point. Keeping a third forward high helps in this case as well to make it easier for defensemen to take calculated risks to keep the puck in the offensive zone.
Corsi/Fenwick– The two most popular analytical trackers of puck possession. Most commonly seen as percentages for, these two track shots for and against. Corsi tracks all shot attempts, while Fenwick tracks only shots on goal and missed shots. To put it simply, if Joe Thornton is on the ice for a combined 10 shots on net, blocked shots, and missed shots by him and his linemates, while only giving up five combined shots, blocks and misses for the other team, Thornton’s corsi-for percentage would be 66%. The idea here is that a team spending more time in the offensive zone will have more shot attempts than their opponent. Hockey is a game like soccer, the more you have the puck/ball, the better your chances of scoring and the lower the chances of the opponent scoring.