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The importance of good centers

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04-30-2010, 09:03 PM
  #1
Pierre Gotye
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The importance of good centers

I learned a lot this season as Captaining a team. I play defense, so sometimes one or two players can make a big difference.

We only had a couple of decent centers, an alright defense, and an underachieving goalie.

But all in all, it's about the strength of your lineup through the middle. If you don't have guys who can back-check and get back quickly on defense on all your lines, your team won't perform very well.

Anyways, I just thought I would share this. Centers(other than goaltenders) are your most crucial component of your lineup. If you ever Captain or are associated with a struggling team or a team on the brink solve your problems with good help down the middle first and foremost.

Good centers can solve many lineup and headaches your team might see. They can also make your wingers a bit better also.

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04-30-2010, 09:28 PM
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I respectfully disagree. The last two years I've been on a team with awful defensemen. They are the quarter backs for the power play, neutral zone, and, most importantly, the breakout. Our team's breakout was aggravatingly horrendous. I played wing and all our defensemen did was either slap the puck around the boards, give us passes behind us when we were curling, or knee high passes. Not only were we deprived of offensive chances, but also were coughing up the puck in dangerous areas. Being a defenseman, I can see how you believe a bad center can be frustating to play with-not backchecking, helping out in the corners, covering the slot.

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04-30-2010, 10:47 PM
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Well obviously defensemen are the people who hold a team together. If your defense is garbage, your team will most likely be garbage because like the above poster said, you won't even successfully get out of your zone.

However, out of all the forwards the center is definitely the most important. The center doesn't really have too many "specific" responsibilities (Wingers have to block opposing D-men) and the center just drifts around the slot, sometimes a corner when on defense. The center has to have the most endurance + skating ability, because they really have to be all over the place all the time.

That's why in house league the best players always play center even if they're used to wing. Because you get the freedom to skate with space almost everywhere.

At least on my house league team; if you get to center a line, it's considered a promotion.

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05-01-2010, 12:11 AM
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Originally Posted by Brentbreakaway23 View Post
I learned a lot this season as Captaining a team. I play defense, so sometimes one or two players can make a big difference.

We only had a couple of decent centers, an alright defense, and an underachieving goalie.

But all in all, it's about the strength of your lineup through the middle. If you don't have guys who can back-check and get back quickly on defense on all your lines, your team won't perform very well.

Anyways, I just thought I would share this. Centers(other than goaltenders) are your most crucial component of your lineup. If you ever Captain or are associated with a struggling team or a team on the brink solve your problems with good help down the middle first and foremost.

Good centers can solve many lineup and headaches your team might see. They can also make your wingers a bit better also.
Bad centers are irritating to play with as a Dman myself. That being said I played center for a very short stint and realize I was not any good at it lol. I suck at face offs for one thing and i am not a Fancy Dan fiddle diddle in a phone booth player. I'm a bull in a china shop and that works for me very well.

I get your point for sure ... the oither posters mentioning a Dman that can carry the puck are just as important as a good center in my opinion defensively. So yes and no on your assessment in my opinion.

Teams with D who cannot carry the puck are an epic fail no matter if there is a good center or not. Now if you have a center good enough to carry the puck end to end great but he will not be able to often enough to make it worthwhile.

When we play I am given the puck in our end more often than not unless I play with someone who is obviously a better puck carrier. I have learned a long time ago that you will sometimes play with people better than yourself so adjust accordingly and 'know your role'.


Good centers make wingers look like geniuses, I agree there. I played wing for a long long time. I would get the puck at our blueline from the D and hand it to the guy who can fiddle diddle and do my winger job which is to get open to score.

I mainly was a defensive forward that killed penalties so the job was a little different but basically the same. There should be a good center killing penalties with a winger, I firmly believe that.


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05-01-2010, 12:39 AM
  #5
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I am a natural centerman but usually refuse to play the position. Frankly, I'm sick of destroying my blades on faceoffs. I'm a faceoff ace at the adult level, mostly because the other guys have no idea what they're doing. But honestly I'd prefer not to have my blade cracked by slap happy mcgee.

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05-01-2010, 01:30 AM
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With only five skaters on the ice, a weakness at any position is easy to expose.

Defensemen are crucial since they initiate the breakout from your own zone. A poor d-man will lead to a lot of goals against, and difficulty getting out of your own zone.

As for the forwards... your centre typically needs to be your best skater. He has to be comfortable getting the puck a lot and making decisions with it, and needs to be at least somewhat responsible defensively. Wingers, by comparison, need to be strong along the boards and need to be able to get themselves open. Your play w/o the puck as a winger is very important.

I'm more of a utility forward. I feel most comfortable on LW, but I can play RW and C at my level. I usually play defense-first when I'm on C though... staying high in the offensive zone and backchecking like a demon. It makes up for my lack of shooting ability... since the guys I play with all love to carry the puck down the ice and toss it to the high slot.

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05-01-2010, 03:29 AM
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I find it interesting that the centremen claim the defense to be the most important member of the team, while the defense claim the centremen are the most important.

Perhaps to have a truly great line, the defense have to work well with the centremen. Maybe it would be a good idea for the centremen and defense to chat before the games to discuss play and strategies. Wingers can drink beer

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05-01-2010, 04:40 AM
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Pierre Gotye
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I play as a defenseman. Your wingers should always be your worst skaters.

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05-01-2010, 12:18 PM
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Originally Posted by beavboyz View Post
I find it interesting that the centremen claim the defense to be the most important member of the team, while the defense claim the centremen are the most important.

Perhaps to have a truly great line, the defense have to work well with the centremen. Maybe it would be a good idea for the centremen and defense to chat before the games to discuss play and strategies. Wingers can drink beer
Well honestly, once you get to the level where you're on a team practicing various set breakout plays in practice, the breakout comes down to the D and the C 99% of the time. To be effective both have to be involved and communicating; the wingers just have to come back into the zone, wait for the D and C to get things started and than release from their stations around the hash marks against their respective boards. Obviously, at even higher levels, it doesn't HAVE to be the C who gets things going; circumstantially a winger can take his place in the breakout and the C can park himself along the boards waiting for the breakout.

Most breakouts you'll learn when you get to the point of practicing set breakout patterns will involve the D being the first men back when the puck is sent into your end. Generally, the wingers - once the puck is secure - will get into position along the boards (preferably coming low enough in the zone) and the C will come down deep and pick up the puck from the D. In the most basic form you will see the C swoop down low across the hashmarks, receive a pass from a D in either corner/behind the net and look up ice, often hitting a winger who is now streaking from their breakout position. In other variations the C will swoop down behind the net, pick up the puck and do the same, or leave the puck for a D to breakout himself, carry the puck himself, etc. As you and your teammates get better at running this the wingers can learn to anticipate the flow of the play, and release from their stations earlier, making it easier for the D or C to make a long breakout pass and spring them for a breakaway or rush (the reason you want them coming low enough in the first place though, is so that in the early stages of your breakout, they're only just crossing their own blueline when their C looks to hit them, and not already half way down the ice - when you first practice the drill you're look for the safe/guaranteed breakout, not a homerun pass). Also, as you get better, you can obviously improvise various parts of the breakout as your chemistry dictates and run the breakout any number of ways that might work for you. The point of it all, however, is that the basic breakout every team needs to know focuses and relies upon the D and C executing smoothly and coordinating between one another.

So it's no surprise that, in general, each position will find the other incredibly important. Good D without decent centers will have frustration breaking the puck out and good Cs without competent D will have heck of a time getting out of the zone at all. Additionally having 2-3 strong faceoff men in your lineup is a god-send, and having a center who knows how to direct his players positioning for each draw is important as well. You want at least a couple of skill centers and a couple of energy centers (before the highest levels, one C can fill both roles) so that you can have a good forechecking, aggressive line and lines that can control/cycle the puck. You should also have at least one really good defensive center who communicates well WHILE on the ice, is good at and has no aversion to blocking shots and will be reliable for the PK. This is because, while the wingers generally only have to concern themselves with covering the points, the C will often come down low and help the D out below the circles.


Last edited by SERE 24: 05-04-2010 at 06:40 PM.
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05-03-2010, 03:10 PM
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I played like 4 times this past winter on a team that had no coach and tried to use their centers in an offensive/stretch pass role - as in the centre would be at their blueline way past their own wingers when the D would break out.

If their D wasn't making perfect passes or good decisions, then their winger had to make a perfect pass or chip off the boards, but no outlet sometimes if the center was too far up the ice. They would get hemmed in for long shifts at a time with a well timed pinch from the opposing D - needless to say they didn't finish the season above .500

The best thing anyone can do in organized hockey at a younger age is pay attention to what the coach teaches each position group of wingers, centers and defense - if anything, it should teach you to understand what each group is responsible for from a basic team perspective. Unfortunately, there are a few people in rec hockey who don't know the basics and are running around like their head is chopped off trying to do too much when it comes to playing in their own zone.

The most accurate description I've heard about great centers is that they tie the knot between the offensive and the defensive side of the game.

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05-03-2010, 03:37 PM
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The best teams I've been on put the best skaters on D, then the next best at center, then the worst at wing. Not to say the wingers were terrible, but a weak skater would get exposed really quickly on D or center.

When we had strong D-men, the puck would get broken out of the zone quickly, outlet passes were on the tape, we could skate the puck out of trouble, clear the front of the net, etc. If you're constantly getting the puck out of your end and into the offensive zone, even the "weak" skaters will knock in some goals, especially if they pass to your stronger guys at the point and you work the cycle.

All that said, it's incredibly frustrating when centers can't win a draw...ever.

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05-03-2010, 04:11 PM
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I play as a defenseman. Your wingers should always be your worst skaters.
Thats me!

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05-04-2010, 01:29 PM
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I play as a defenseman. Your wingers should always be your worst skaters.
So thats why I'm on the wing!

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05-04-2010, 01:45 PM
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Center is one of the toughest positions in hockey. Wingers have it easy. Defensemen don't have to do as much skating. Whenever I play D, I hardly ever feel tired at the end of the game. Center whoops your butt and I love it. Plus, if you have a center who's good at taking faceoffs, you can have much more control over the game. It sucks when you have a center who can't win a draw for his life.

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05-04-2010, 11:49 PM
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I play as a defenseman. Your wingers should always be your worst skaters.
Amen to that brother!

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05-05-2010, 02:06 AM
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Center is one of the toughest positions in hockey. Wingers have it easy. Defensemen don't have to do as much skating. Whenever I play D, I hardly ever feel tired at the end of the game. Center whoops your butt and I love it. Plus, if you have a center who's good at taking faceoffs, you can have much more control over the game. It sucks when you have a center who can't win a draw for his life.
Pretty much. Whenever someone asks if I rather play wing or center, I give them the 'well, I'll play whatever's best for team' business. Deep inside I hope they say wing, cause man, other than covering the points all your 'work' is towards scoring. Center is like, 'I've come all this way, and now I have to go back?'.

But seriously, its the most rewarding position, if its the playoffs or a must win, I'll do center duty with pride, I'd rather trust the responsibility of back-checking and covering the slot to myself cause I know I'll do it if I have to. Your will gets tested when its an end of a shift and you gave it all on an end to end rush only to miss the net and have the play go the other way.

Also, I find the D are appreciative if you put the work in, even if you go scoreless in a game getting some 'thanks' from the D for coming back on a 2vs2 or a 2v1 makes up for it, AND my favourite stat is that + -.

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05-05-2010, 11:39 AM
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Also, I find the D are appreciative if you put the work in, even if you go scoreless in a game getting some 'thanks' from the D for coming back on a 2vs2 or a 2v1 makes up for it, AND my favourite stat is that + -.
Same, whenever I'm playing center and rush back to break up something in our defensive zone the D-men are always really happy

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05-05-2010, 02:55 PM
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Pretty much. Whenever someone asks if I rather play wing or center, I give them the 'well, I'll play whatever's best for team' business. Deep inside I hope they say wing, cause man, other than covering the points all your 'work' is towards scoring. Center is like, 'I've come all this way, and now I have to go back?'.

But seriously, its the most rewarding position, if its the playoffs or a must win, I'll do center duty with pride, I'd rather trust the responsibility of back-checking and covering the slot to myself cause I know I'll do it if I have to. Your will gets tested when its an end of a shift and you gave it all on an end to end rush only to miss the net and have the play go the other way.

Also, I find the D are appreciative if you put the work in, even if you go scoreless in a game getting some 'thanks' from the D for coming back on a 2vs2 or a 2v1 makes up for it, AND my favourite stat is that + -.
What I find frustrating about the whole thing is that the new adult players have no idea on how to be a good wing, defenseman, center, or goaltender. I mean it's easy for a lot of you cause you have played all your life, but we have to learn bit by bit by either watching hockey on T.V or getting yelled at by more experience players on your team.

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05-05-2010, 03:01 PM
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This should be required viewing for all beginners:


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05-05-2010, 04:31 PM
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What I find frustrating about the whole thing is that the new adult players have no idea on how to be a good wing, defenseman, center, or goaltender. I mean it's easy for a lot of you cause you have played all your life, but we have to learn bit by bit by either watching hockey on T.V or getting yelled at by more experience players on your team.
Well growing up I mostly played soccer, but it translates well enough in terms of general principles.

Being effective positionally basically comes down to common sense and effort. In a very basic but adequate way, simply supporting the carrier or getting open when your team has possession, checking an open man when you don't, and not not being redundant in both these things (like 2 players covering the same guy) will be enough not to get yelled at from me.

Sure, there are plenty of nuances you can learn to make you more effective but I won't blame anybody for doing only the above.

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05-05-2010, 04:35 PM
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Having 2 horrible skating wingers is unfair offensively to the center. Plus it means he has to be faster coming back since they'll be so slow. As a center, I appreciated having 1 speedy winger on my line. Now, I am playing the role of that speedy winger.

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05-05-2010, 04:52 PM
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We used to pair one weak and one strong skater on wing on my team, but lately it was pairing players of the same speed so they could make plays together, otherwise it's a one-man show.

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05-05-2010, 07:59 PM
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We used to pair one weak and one strong skater on wing on my team, but lately it was pairing players of the same speed so they could make plays together, otherwise it's a one-man show.
Well if the centre and a winger can hold it down, the other winger can be a bit slower and crash the net. That what I do when Im on a line with quicker guys, or what we do when its a lower skilled team and I might be a center.

Im on the slower end for mid to high end players for sure but have good fundamentals and can skate backwards well.

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05-06-2010, 02:35 PM
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Having 2 horrible skating wingers is unfair offensively to the center. Plus it means he has to be faster coming back since they'll be so slow. As a center, I appreciated having 1 speedy winger on my line. Now, I am playing the role of that speedy winger.

Can we also mention how important it is for the centers sanity that they also have one decent puck handling winger on their line for a breakout pass? I know one winger in particular I've encountered in the past few years that essentially melts into a puddle every time the puck is passed to them in the defensive zone by the D for a breakout pass to the center.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Ducksgo View Post
What I find frustrating about the whole thing is that the new adult players have no idea on how to be a good wing, defenseman, center, or goaltender. I mean it's easy for a lot of you cause you have played all your life, but we have to learn bit by bit by either watching hockey on T.V or getting yelled at by more experience players on your team.
Good point!

This site I'm linking is a purely basic helpful description for beginners. Some of the terminology they use is really bad, look past it.

http://www.bbshockey.com/Tips/Hockey-Positions.htm

My personal pet peeve (related to wingers) is when they come back in the defensive zone trying to help out and they get the puck below/by the hash marks and try to clear the puck out by shooting it to the spot they just vacated only to have it intercepted by their D on your blueline. I did this in my first year of organized hockey, got called out on it at the bench by the coach and try to never do it again.

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05-06-2010, 02:50 PM
  #25
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H O L Y S H I T I cannot, CANNOT stand the wingers who come down below the faceoff dot to "help out" the D. Seriously, we have a defenseman and a center down here, the other D is in front of the net, why in the hell do you think we need four people within 20 feet of the puck? It ALWAYS gets chipped RIGHT to the spot where the winger SHOULD be, who can't get it, and leaves the D wide open for a shot.

And we've had a guy who's been doing this every damned game for three years. Never learns. So frustrating. Get up there and cover your damn point man.

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