This is one of a series called Hockey 101, addressing the basics of hockey positioning and systems appropriate for a beginner to intermediate player and their team.
Even Strength Defensive Zone Positioning
The basics of defensive zone positioning for defensemen are very simple.
- When the puck is in your corner, fight for it
- When the puck is in the other corner, fight to own the front of the net
- When the puck is up high, cover the forwards near the net, keep the net front clear.
- When not engaged in the corner, control the players closest to the net on your side or in front.
- There should always be at least one defenseman in front of the net when the puck is in the zone.
There are exceptions to this, but these are good rules to start with.
Positions to avoid:
- Don’t chase behind the net (usually)
- Don’t chase above the dots (usually)
- Don’t screen your goalie unless it’s required to engage an open attacker.
Puck Moves Across (Don’t chase)
A common mistake is to chase the puck too much. When the puck moves to the opposite side, normally, you shouldn’t chase much across the mid-line, especially when the puck goes behind the net. A defenseman that chases behind the net can easily get caught out of position. Communicate with your partner.
When the puck is moved behind the net from the corner, the defender follows to the net.
If he tries to chase behind the net , the forward may use the net as a pick and get a clean shot or create an outnumbered attack in the crease. This is especially true if you’re trailing the puck carrier.
Instead, he takes up his place in front of the net and his partner engages the puck carrier as he comes around the net.
Situations when you might chase across the mid-line:
- When the defenseman is playing the puck carrier’s body along the boards
- When the puck is loose or the puck carrier has a poor handle on the puck
- When your partner is not available to pick up the player on the other side
In a scramble or in a broken play, retreat to your side of the net and take away the space of the opponent closest to your post.
More Defensive Stuff
For more details check out the following posts:
- Defensive Puck movement
- Breakout positioning and passing (coming soon)
- Defensive Tactics (coming soon)