Hockey 101: Basic Power Play Formations

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.

Hockey 101: Basic Power Play Formations

Power plays are an opportunity to set up shop in the offensive zone and get some real puck possession.  A few critical components of power plays are:

  • Ensure you maintain control of the puck
  • Wait for quality scoring opportunities
  • Move the puck often to pull defenders out of position

Teams looking for a small extra advantage may switch the sides of their wingers and defensemen to ensure their sticks are facing the middle for more effective shots (as shown in the diagrams).

Basic (Box+1)

The most basic formation is a box+1 formation (sometimes known as 2-1-2).  This formation is simple in that it uses the same positions players may be accustomed to.

  • Move the puck around the outside (in red) to draw defenders out of position.
  • Shoot from the outside or drive seams
  • Look for passes to C (in green)
  • Best scorer should play C
  • Weak side winger may slip into back-door positions
  • Use the defensemen as an outlet for puck movement

Intermediate (Overload)

A more advanced formation that can be used exclusively, or a modification to the Box+1 formation is an overload.  The goal here is to draw the defenders toward the corner to clear up shooting lanes.  This can be played at either side (or both), depending on the team and situation.

  • Best passers are at C & LW  –  Play catch to quarterback the play and draw defenders (in red).
  • LD is a good outlet for pressure on C & LW.
  • Look for passes to men in front (in green)
  • Scorer at RW – Dig in front.  Keep one defender occupied.
  • Strong, accurate shot at RD (one timer, especially)
  • Defensive player at LD, big shot is helpful

A team can move between these two systems easily and may choose to do so when the puck is below the goal line, or when the winger (LW in this diagram) is pushed back to the half-boards by pressure.

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