Defensive Puck Movement: Gaining & Maintaining Control of the Puck

Defensive puck movement

When recovering the puck, the d-mans first job is to clear the “danger zone” (in red below).  This is the most important part of a defenseman’s position and takes priority over everything else.

Once clear, the puck should not be passed or moved back into this zone, especially at a lower level of play.  Off the boards and out is a safe play.  Using the boards and glass at the half-boards will help avoid icing calls and will make it harder for attacking d-men to hold the puck in the zone.

Things to remember:

  • Clear the “danger zone” (red area)
    • Try to get possession
    • If you can’t, get the puck to the walls
    • Try to avoid up the middle unless you’re sure
    • Use your hands and feet if necessary
  •  Gaining possession: Move your feet first
    • Find the space, don’t skate to traffic
    • If unsure, head to the “quiet zone” (behind the net)
  • Once moving and clear of pressure, find a pass
    • Don’t try to pass while standing still – move first
    • without the puck re-entering the danger zone
    • Do not force it
    • Read about Breakout Systems (coming soon)
  • If no clean pass is available, Clear the zone
    • Put it high and off the boards or glass.
    • Better to put it behind your own net or in the corner than up the middle blindly
    • Rim it as a last resort

This is often expressed by coaches by saying:

“Look, skate, look, pass”

If you are the last man back, pass  or dump the puck with any pressure.  Don’t be that guy who turns the puck over with no support.  Clear the zone.


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