Stepping right in as a defenceman?
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01-31-2013, 03:25 PM
Join Date: Nov 2010
I don't see the big deal. If you want to learn to play defense you'll have to be back there at some point or another. I was thrown back on defense from my very first game and I didn't think it was that tough, but you do have to have a very high awareness of what is happening on the ice.
Skating backwards and solid transitions are helpful, but at the very lowest level where I started playing they weren't necessary, I don't know if your league will be similar though. You do need to be able to accurately estimate your abilities and those of others. If an open puck is floating halfway between you and an opposing player, you have to be nearly 100% sure you'll get there first if you go after it since you are the last line of defense before the goalie.
A lot of the position comes down to playing percentages like this. Your job isn't to block every shot or steal the puck from every forward that comes into the zone, you just need to cut down their chances to score. That means keeping them to the outside and generally not letting them get behind you.
Anticipation of plays is also a big part. Sometimes you'll need to go to one knee [or even full-out sprawl] to effectively block a shot/pass, you'll need to know when to time it so that you don't take yourself out of the play. If you're marking someone in the slot you don't have to play the body [I'm a fairly undersized guy, tall but skinny] to effectively defend them. I found shadowing them from behind and timing a stick lift as a pass came was more effective for me than trying to out-muscle them.
Ultimately, you should play where the team places you, but let them know that you would be interested in playing defense. Some things you can do to help learn quicker if you get placed on wing is talk to the defensemen about their responsibilities. Learn how they play and show them you understand. Then if they get a chance to jump into a play, slide back and cover defense for them. They'll love you for it and you'll get a taste of their responsibilities.
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