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Taking a Lesson from the Capitals

Posted by Kevin - Filed under: Comments & Thoughts

If you’re a Washington Capitals fan, the last couple days have probably been pretty tough to handle after their first-round exit from the playoffs after being up three games to one in the series.  While surfing through the latest hockey headlines online, I came across a question from Dave Hodge on TSN.ca titled Does the Caps’ Loss Make Mockery of Regular Season.  The question is an interesting one – one which I’m sure will stir up some debate and emotional responses (especially from the Caps’ fans).

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Defensive Escape Turns w/ Shooting [Video]

Posted by Kevin - Filed under: Hockey Drills,Instructional Video
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This week’s video expands on one of our most popular past videos.  When we posted the original Defensive Escape Turns video, we got lots of positive feedback from the community, so we wanted to expand on the drill.  The expansion of the drill adds two shots.  While this addition may seem small, when incorporating them into this drill, you’ll quickly see how much more challenging the drill becomes.

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2 on 1 Dissected (Part 2)

Posted by Kevin - Filed under: Hockey Tips
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Back in December, we broke down the offensive side of a 2 on 1 rush in our 2 on 1 Dissected (Part 1) post.  In part 2, we will be discussing the strategies and common mistakes made while defending a 2 on 1 rush.  The general rule of thumb for defending a 2 on 1 rush is: the goaltender should take the shot and the defender should eliminate the pass across.  While this is a good general rule, there are more instances to look into and a couple key additions to be made.

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Learn from the Pros – Week 3

Posted by Kevin - Filed under: Learn from the Pros
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This week’s Learn from the Pros segment look at one of Alex Ovechkin’s goals against Montreal on April 21st, 2010.  The goal is scored on a power play rush started by Capital’s Norris Trophy finalist Mike Green.  Some subtle plays and a great shot lead to Ovechkin’s first of the night.

[0:21] – Capitals #52 Mike Green begins this power play rush by skating with the puck.  The first thing to notice is he has his head up surveying the ice.  Next, he skates with the puck until he gets pressured by a Montreal forechecker.  Too often on the power play breakout players panic with the puck and move it too quickly instead of having patience.  By waiting for the forechecker to come to him, Green opens opens up a passing lane.

[0:26] – Capitals #19 Nicklas Backstrom takes the outlet pass from Green and enters the zone with his head up. By being able to see the ice, he identifies Ovechkin (#8) and makes a pass slightly behind his body.  By making the pass opposite his body’s momentum Backstrom is able to create space against the Montreal defense.

[0:28] – Ovechkin (#8) receives this pass and does NOT stickhandle at all. Instead, he releases a quick (hard) snap shot across his body – meaning the puck is going the opposite way his body is.  This forces Montreal goalie #31 Carey Price to move laterally.  When a shooter forces a goaltender to move laterally, it creates openings in the goaltender’s stance.  Ovechkin’s hard shot finds a way past Price’s far-side.

Take a look at the Against the Grain drill for ideas on how to work on this type of shot.


Bench Management – Lineup Card [Download]

Posted by Kevin - Filed under: Resources
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Managing the bench during game situations can be difficult at best.  Players get hurt, equipment fails, penalties are called – you name it, it changes your game plan.  Good coaches are able to react and make decisions quickly.  One of the tools I’ve found most useful over the years has been the lineup card.  This allows me to quickly glance down and know my first choice for most situations.  It is also extremely useful if you’re in a game where line match-ups are important.  I’ve provided a PDF download of the template I use for my lineup cards.  It includes 4 offensive and defensive lines, 2 goaltenders, 2 power play units, 2 penalty kill units, two groups for end of the game play (pulling goalie, or defending a one-goal lead), and areas for notes and diagrams.  I hope you find this useful in your coaching!

» Download the HockeyShare Lineup Card (PDF)


Top Shelf Shooting Drill

Posted by Kevin - Filed under: Instructional Video
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This week’s video shows a very simple shooting drill to work on “roofing” the puck in close.  For this video we took the same foam rink dividers we used in the jumping video last week, and stacked them in front of the net so only a small top-shelf area was open.

Stay tuned next week for a video on the modification of the Bobby Orr Escape drill video!


New HockeyShare Look Launching…

Posted by Kevin - Filed under: HockeyShare.com Features
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Over the next few days we will be rolling out a major update to the website.  The look will be changed a bit, some new functionality will be added, areas will be cleaned up, and the forums will be updated.  This is not a minor site update, so please be patient with us as we implement the changes.  During this time, you may experience temporary outages.  We will be working to restore all functionality and access as quickly as possible.  The updates are expected to start this evening and finished by Thursday evening.

We appreciate your patience while we keep trying to improve the site!

Update: Good news – we’re expecting to have Facebook Connect up and running shortly! This will allow you to log in (and register) to HockeyShare with your Facebook username/password! Your username/password will not be ever be visible to HockeyShare.  FB Connect works by using a Facebook page to authenticate users, then returns the status securely to the HockeyShare servers.


Checking Clinic Practice Plan

Posted by Kevin - Filed under: Practice Plans
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Harry Guittard was kind enough to share a practice plan he used for a body checking clinic recently.  Much of the content is based off of Hockey Canada’s recommendations, but it’s great to see how different coaches put this content together and present it.  Click one of the the links below to download the entire practice plan.

PDF Version | MS Word Version

Thanks for sharing Harry!


Learn from the Pros – Week 2

Posted by Kevin - Filed under: Learn from the Pros
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This week’s Learn from the Pros video clip features a goal from Vancouver’s Daniel Sedin from brother Henrik Sedin on April 15th vs. the LA Kings.

[0:02] The play begins by Daniel Sedin (#22) carrying the puck out of the zone on the far wall with King’s forward Justin Williams (#14) defending.  Sedin realizes he is going to be angled off, so he escapes and buys time with the puck, moving it to his brother Henrik Sedin (#33) in the middle of the ice. This simple escape move has changed the rush for the Canucks from a 1 on 3 rush to a 3 on 3 rush.

[0:03] This is where the entire play is made.  Daniel Sedin (#22) keeps his feed moving after he has passed the puck.  Williams then turns back and fails to finish his check, leaving him one-step behind Daniel Sedin in a foot-race up ice.

[0:05] Henrik Sedin looks up and exploits the large gap given by the Kings defensemen by first moving inside the attacking zone, then creates a bigger gap (as big as the “Stanley Cup Playoffs” logo in the ice!) by bringing the puck back out away from the defenders. This allows Daniel Sedin to get involved with the play now that he has beat Williams back up ice.

[0:06] Henrik Sedin quickly slows up and lays a beautiful pass out to his brother Daniel in prime scoring area.  It should be noted that the Kings weakside defenseman (#6 – Sean O’Donnell) is in relatively good position covering Vancouver’s weak-side forward (#14 – Alex Burrows), however Vancouver has turned this rush into a 4 on 3 with a trailer jumping in on the play – this gives Vancouver lots of options and is very difficult to defend with Daniel Sedin having gotten in front of Justin Williams.

[0:08] Instead of simply shooting the puck, Daniel Sedin changes the puck location to the inside, forcing Kings goalie (#32 – Jonathan Quick) to shift his weight and square-up to the puck.  Sedin finishes with an amazing backhander top-shelf high glove-side. There is a great replay at the [0:54] mark as well.


Tryout Overview [Part 2]

Posted by Kevin - Filed under: Comments & Thoughts
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So, now you have taken the time to properly plan out your tryout sessions, and now find yourself with an evaluation sheet in hand. Many coaches get overwhelmed during this process – after all, there is a lot to watch. Assuming you’re breaking your tryout into three distinct drill categories – skill, competitive, scrimmage – we will take a look at what skills and subtleties to watch for in each of these three areas.

Skill Drills: In order to properly run skill drills, you need a good comprehension of the talent level you’re working with. At the younger and/or lower caliber levels, your skills should focus on the basics: forward skating, backward skating, cross overs, stopping, basic puck handling, basic shooting, and basic passing. The older and/or higher caliber the group, the more you should implement drills to force the performance of skills at a higher pace. Evaluators should watch for notable aspects (both good and bad) of each player’s ability in the following categories: skating, shooting, passing, puck handling. Each of these skills should be broken down into the appropriate drills for the level. For example, to work on cross-overs (skating), you could break it down as follows:

Beginner Groups: Basic cross-overs around the circles – watch for basic technique and balance

Intermediate Groups: Cross-overs around the tops & bottoms of the circles only (not all the way around) – watch for basic technique, balance, speed, and ability to transition between cross-over directions.

Advanced Groups: Have players skate down the ice performing one cross-over to the right, then one cross-over to the left (repeat the length of the ice) – watch for technique, speed, transition between directions, ability to maintain balance/strong body position, and generation of power with each push.

The most important skill to watch for during these drills is skating. If a player can skate well, the rest of the game gets a lot easier. Skating affects every aspect of the game – from a foot race to a loose puck, to maintaining balance in front of an opposing team’s net. Players who skate efficiently are often times easier to work with when it comes time for positioning. While evaluating skating abilities, be sure to include drills that force players to change directions and move laterally. It doesn’t do any good to be the fastest skater from end-to-end if you aren’t able to turn or change directions while maintaining your momentum.

Competitive Drills: During competitive drills is where you look for your work-horses. Small area games and in-tight competitive drills often expose strengths and weaknesses quicker than any other types of drills since the players have no place to hide or blend in. One of my favorite drills to run during tryouts is the Corner Battles drill. This simple one-on-one drill shows me right away who is willing to mix it up in the corners. I also recommend running 1 on 1 drills to allow you to isolate both forwards and defensemen. The 1 on 1 Full Ice drill is one of the oldest, most basic 1 on 1 drills there is – but it works great. You get to see how the defensemen handle the puck, shoot, set their gap, and handle the rush. You also get to see if your forwards are willing to get in front of the net, have the necessary speed, have creativity, and the desire to fight through a check. Coaches shouldn’t be afraid to adjust the lines to get a desired matchup on rushes or battle drills. It’s a tryout, and you’re looking to see the level each player can compete at.

Scrimmage Time: This is an evaluator’s time to see if the notes on a player thus far transfer into game-scenarios. It’s also the time to find out which players have the much-coveted “hockey sense.” Hockey sense is (simply put) the ability to see the ice, properly anticipate plays, and react accordingly. This portion of the tryouts often makes decisions for coaches even more difficult. Many times, you can run into a player who has a great core set of skills, but isn’t able to translate them into game scenarios. You may also run into the opposite – a player with a weak core set of skills, but seems to get the job done consistently. Which player you give preference to when choosing your team is your own personal decision. In my opinion, I would rather take a player who can perform during a game with a weaker core set of skills than one who has good skills but no game-time performance – with one HUGE caveat: the player MUST have a strong skating ability.

A couple final thoughts on the tryout process…

If you have multiple people evaluating, don’t be surprised if you have differing opinions on players. Different people look for different things while they’re evaluating. I always recommend having neutral hockey-knowledgable evaluators assist in picking your team. By neutral, I simply mean they do not have a child on the ice being evaluated, and have not coached the majority of the players in the past. Ideally, you get someone who has no connection with any of the players on the ice. This removes a level of emotion from decisions.

Finally, accept the fact that you most likely will not please everybody. Don’t give in to threats of “if my kid doesn’t make the top team, we’re taking him/her somewhere else.” To those situations, my typical response is “do what you have to do.” While it may come off as terse, I firmly believe coaches need to evaluate as fairly and impartially as possible. Coaches will often be put in tough personal and political situations during tryouts. Personally, I’ve had to cut board member’s players, cut friend’s players, and have had people stop talking to me because of my decisions. Make your decisions with integrity and stick to your guns.

Good luck to all the players and coaches going through the tryout process!


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