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01-08-2012, 08:54 PM
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Originally Posted by CornKicker View Post
I am almost 30 years old and have played forward for the 25yrs i have played hockey. i have decided i am going to give playing defence a try and really after all these years i dont have a clue how to play defence. I am a good skater so i am not to worried about that i am more worried about when to pinch, which guy to take, when to close gaps, when to stear wide, when to block shots when to transition from front of the net to the corner etc etc. i have the ability to think the game i just dont know the answers.

any help or suggestions would be awesome
I did the same thing last year, the first few games can be tough don't try to be too offensive.

I found it's important to stay square to the attackers hips (i.e. play the body), and use your legs to block the shots it subsequently forces them to take. Against the rush your stick is more to keep them offguard, force offsides and poke pucks away if they get too close but don't lunge for pucks as it will open you up and not allow you to turn. Let the forward make the mistake, you can't force the issue too much or you will get burned if you keep it simple and make it hard for him to make a play he will give it up more often than not forcing the issue, or go wide allowing you to take away his space and pin him on the board.

I find unless you know you will cleanly block a point shot and control the rebound it's better to box out your man and focus on clearing rebounds, again trust your goalie to make plays at times. He has to be able to see it, and it's hard to make the second and third saves. Alot of times the worst thing you can do is drop your man and pressure for a block only to have the guy you left bang in an easy rebound because you missed the block.

If your going to pinch go all in, the worst thing you can do is hesitate, at least if your all in it will be hard for the forward to beat you clean. But the pinching takes time, if i were you i'd avoid it unless your absolutly sure its a no brainer to go for it. Watch your partner and ensure he can back you up, don't be the guy pinching in and giving up a breakaway/2 on 1. Also if your partner pinches be conservative and play the middle of the ice. There will usually be a shot on a 2 on 1 the least you can do is give your goalie the benifit of the angle by taking away the pass. Sometimes you just have to trust your goalie can make a save he can see and be square to.

Talk a lot with your partner and try not to over pursue, on defense you let the game come to you a little bit more and rely on opportunism. When moving the puck up the ice sometimes a couple d to d passes to trap forecheckers or soften the defense is huge as opposed to forcing the puck up the boards, it's important to allow your forwards even to odd man rushes to have sustained success or it's coming right back at you.

On corner to net transitions, unless your center has him first any guy in your corner(i.e. left d has left corner) should be pressured, again stay square to the hips and use a good stick to maintain gap control. The lack of space in the corner can force a lot of turnovers, especially if the other team doesn't have strong support. I find most times it's unwise to purse a guy from one side of the net to the other when behind the goaline, let your parter take him and you rotate to the net.

On dump ins you need strong communication from your partner/goalie/center, either use the net as a pick if you have time, turn it up ice quick with speed or look for a quick outlet to the corner just above the goaline where your parter should be(the center should be backchecking to the net if you will be the first there), and if your partner is covered a reverse(as long as your center is first back) or rush from the otherside of the net is probably your best otion, though sometimes you just have to eat the puck.

Some teams/players do things differently but i find thats what worked for me, and i did fairly well moving up to the defacto top pairing in about 5 games. I thought i would score a lot more though, i was the leading scorer on the team two years prior and had all of three assists, so the offensive game back there i found was very different. By the end of the year i was leading alot more rushes though as i was more confident in my assesments, but i'm glad i didn't force it as giving the puck away rushing it as a defenseman can be sketchy. But do be mindful of your strengths i tried really hard to pass alot when i was more of a rusher, once i found that comfort rushing it a bit more the game was easier.

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