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Defenseman playing on the wrong side

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Old
07-26-2010, 12:04 PM
  #1
Max Levine
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Defenseman playing on the wrong side

I had this discussion with a friend of mine concerning Spacek spending the whole season on the right side. Argument revolved around the inability of a professional hockey player to adapt to both sides of the rink as well as the importance for a defenseman to play on the right side (left for leftie, right for rightie).

I guess the reason we couldn't agree was the fact that neither one of us had played at a high level and I thought playing the right side might not be as significant at lower levels but quite important in the major leagues.

Your POV?

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07-26-2010, 12:09 PM
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InglewoodJack
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Well, to play in the NHL, you need to be perfect (or nearly perfect) at what you do. I'm sure in the AHL/ECHL/Any other senior league, Spacek could easily play both sides, but in the NHL where mistakes are more easily exploited, and you can't make any mistakes, playing on a side where you weren't really taught to play gets tricky.

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07-26-2010, 12:11 PM
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Blind Gardien
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I don't have the requisite experience either, but I'm going to guess that it's just different for different players. Some are more positional, don't read-and-react as well, whereas some think the game better. Also it probably depends on how long the same side has been ingrained in a player's tendencies, vs. a guy who maybe bounced around more, more recently. For example, I don't think Gorges is hurt playing either side. Spacek clearly had some kind of troubles last year, dunno if it was related to that or not. I seem to have vague recollections of debates about some other guys in the past too, dunno if it was Rivet or Odelein, I can't remember anymore.

So I guess at the end of the day, I'm just hopeful that Spacek comes around, or that some thought maybe is given to trying him on the left side. But past that it continues to be case-by-case evaluation. (Not helpful, I know).

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07-26-2010, 12:19 PM
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Right handed defenseman have a problem adapting. As a left handed defenseman, you're more than likely going to have to play on the right side during some point during your career, because the number of right handed shots are few compared to left.

A right handed defenseman will almost always play on the right side throughout his career, so a right handed dman to make the switch will be harder for him, especially in the higher levels.

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07-26-2010, 12:30 PM
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Max Levine
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Spacek talked about it last year, saying he had always played left and he doubted he'd be the one switching. That's why I thought it might have affected his play.

Another thing: when you play on your right side, your body is covering the outside while your stick takes more space in the middle. A leftie playing on the right side would have to be more vulnerable on the outside since he'd position his body more towards the center.

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07-26-2010, 12:55 PM
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I've wondered how important this was from the time all of the lefthanders (Spacek, Mara, Gill) were signed last year. In fact I thought Hamrlik was maybe on the trading block at the start of last season because of the over abundance of lefties. But early injuries (Markov/O'Byrne/Gill/Mara) put that plan aside if in fact their ever was one?

But back to Spacek - I was under the impression he got the right side because he had experience on the PP from that side. I thought Spacek was okay backing up and defending. I was more frustrated with his general positioning once play was already established and his passes. After watching some replays of some Buffalo games I came to the conclusion his positioning is not great from either side. Maybe someone has a different perception.

Gorges is quick enough that he seemingly is okay on the right or left. Hamrlik played the right on the penalty kill with Markov and I thought did a good job. He also has a tendency to drift to the right moreso than any other d-man.

Gill doesn't seem to cross a magical line going down through the center of the ice. Gorges is more inclined to come over to Gill's side.

Bergeron I thought did a very decent job of backing up and breaking up plays. But if play got established he just seemed totally lost and scared.

I guess ultimately were the fans more concerned about Spacek playing on the right than Spacek, the team or coaches were?

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07-26-2010, 03:25 PM
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Ok, I am not an elite player, but I have no problem understating what he was going through. I was playing AA hockey for most of my life. Which is considered the best level of minor hockey. I was always a very good left winger and had a lot of success. I had a lot of speed and I excelled at two thing, blazing on the wing and cut to the net and covering the left side area of the net, to tap in rebounds.
One year I had a meeting with the coach he told me that I was going to play on the first line because he saw my qualities really fit the needs of the center and winger I was going to play with. The only problem is that I had to play the right side. I know it was only minor hockey, but I was never able to be the same player. EVERYTHING is different. From getting a break out pass on the right side. I juste couldn't get them and start skating, I was loosing a lost of speed there and never had the same ability to overskate defenceman since I was getting bad starts. When you cover the front of the net all the passes come from different angle.
It came to a point where you overthink all of your decisions because you want to be a t the right spot at the right time, but it doesn't wolr that way. Hockey is a game of instincts because it is played at a very high speed level.

To be honest, it was easier for me to play the left side at defence, than to play the right wing even though I had been a winger all my life. On the other side, you don't see the ice the same way...

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07-26-2010, 03:33 PM
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A few years ago, all the Sharks had were left-handed d-men and that didn't affect them too much. There is a slight adjustment to be made but those guys are good enough to play both sides. For the record, I'm a right-handed d-man and I much prefer to play the left side. That's because my right-over-left leg crossing while skating backwards is much better... It has nothing to do with what side I shoot.

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07-26-2010, 03:59 PM
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montreal
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I played in the USHS but mostly as a RW (right handed) but when I got older I played in pickup leagues and moved back to defense, I had no trouble playing on either side (when I wasn't out of breathe)

But it's going to be different for everyone. I remember Rivet saying he hated it when he had to play some at LD, but others like Streit, Gorges seem fine on either side. O'Byrne I never heard him say one way or the other but I thought he struggled at LD.

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07-26-2010, 04:17 PM
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I've played some D as a left handed shot, and preffered the right side. I could keep my stick to the outside in my right hand when defending the rush, and in the offensive zone, it was easier to pass and shoot with my stick on the middle side of the ice.

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07-26-2010, 04:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by montreal View Post
I played in the USHS but mostly as a RW (right handed) but when I got older I played in pickup leagues and moved back to defense, I had no trouble playing on either side (when I wasn't out of breathe)

But it's going to be different for everyone. I remember Rivet saying he hated it when he had to play some at LD, but others like Streit, Gorges seem fine on either side. O'Byrne I never heard him say one way or the other but I thought he struggled at LD.
You played in the ushs? Getting drafted by the habs must have been awesome

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07-26-2010, 05:15 PM
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In my limited playing experience (or was it due to my limited skills?) it's more difficult to play on the opposite side in your own zone (when you're being pressed) than in the offensive zone (where you're doing the pressing).

In a tight situation along the board in your own zone, you sometimes have to play on your backhand or turn your back to the play. Not easy.

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07-27-2010, 12:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Analyzer View Post
Right handed defenseman have a problem adapting. As a left handed defenseman, you're more than likely going to have to play on the right side during some point during your career, because the number of right handed shots are few compared to left.

A right handed defenseman will almost always play on the right side throughout his career, so a right handed dman to make the switch will be harder for him, especially in the higher levels.
Thanks. That was of great help to the Habs.

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07-27-2010, 04:13 AM
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Pacio Ready
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There are a couple of things that come into play here. Firstly, it will always depend on the individual's ability to adapt his playing style to his new environment. With this element aside, here are a few things to consider:

1. Defensive Zone Puck Handling
As most forechecking structures rely upon forcing the play to a given side while protecting the centre of the ice, pressure generally drives a defenseman who is in control of the puck towards the outer boards. Thus, a left-handed defenseman playing on the left side will be pushed towards his forehand, which shouldn't be a problem (unless you're Mike Komisarek). When playing on your opposite side, you are pressured towards your backhand, where the margin of error is assuredly greater.

2. Stick Position - Closing the Middle
Again with my example of a left-handed defenseman playing the left side, when a forward comes in on the rush, it is relatively easy to close the middle since your stick is already there and you have a longer reach. If playing the right side, blocking the middle is more difficult, and this often leads to excessive reaching, which puts the defenseman in a vulnerable position should any quick change of direction be necessary

3. Offensive Zone Puck Pinch
If the puck is rimmed along the boards in the offensive zone and the defenseman needs to keep it in, it is far easier on your strong side. If the puck is along the ice, your stick is easily in position on your forehand. One your weak side you either have to play it on your backhand or prop your skate against the boards, which takes up valuable time. If it is in the air (strong side), you can use either your body or glove, but your stick remains positioned to reach into the middle should you fail to control the puck.

4. Defensive Zone 'Over'
It happens hundreds of times per game, the cross-ice 'over' pass between defenceman. Happens either while retreating in the neutral or defensive zone or behind the net. If behind the net, playing on your off side can cause problems. The puck, if sent to the forehand, will be right along the boards, prone to bad bounces, and also makes your head turn away from the play. On your strong side your body is naturally turned towards the play, making it easier to read what is happening since you get the pass on your forehand and have your head up.

These are but a few examples of the difficulties most defenseman have playing their off-side. Not to say that it doesn't have certain advantages of that no one can do it

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07-27-2010, 07:57 AM
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You played in the ushs? Getting drafted by the habs must have been awesome
It's too bad I didn't play when Timmins was our scout. But I did play against Brady Kramer, who the Habs picked in '91 149th overall.

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07-27-2010, 08:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pacio Ready View Post
There are a couple of things that come into play here. Firstly, it will always depend on the individual's ability to adapt his playing style to his new environment. With this element aside, here are a few things to consider:

1. Defensive Zone Puck Handling
As most forechecking structures rely upon forcing the play to a given side while protecting the centre of the ice, pressure generally drives a defenseman who is in control of the puck towards the outer boards. Thus, a left-handed defenseman playing on the left side will be pushed towards his forehand, which shouldn't be a problem (unless you're Mike Komisarek). When playing on your opposite side, you are pressured towards your backhand, where the margin of error is assuredly greater.

2. Stick Position - Closing the Middle
Again with my example of a left-handed defenseman playing the left side, when a forward comes in on the rush, it is relatively easy to close the middle since your stick is already there and you have a longer reach. If playing the right side, blocking the middle is more difficult, and this often leads to excessive reaching, which puts the defenseman in a vulnerable position should any quick change of direction be necessary

3. Offensive Zone Puck Pinch
If the puck is rimmed along the boards in the offensive zone and the defenseman needs to keep it in, it is far easier on your strong side. If the puck is along the ice, your stick is easily in position on your forehand. One your weak side you either have to play it on your backhand or prop your skate against the boards, which takes up valuable time. If it is in the air (strong side), you can use either your body or glove, but your stick remains positioned to reach into the middle should you fail to control the puck.

4. Defensive Zone 'Over'
It happens hundreds of times per game, the cross-ice 'over' pass between defenceman. Happens either while retreating in the neutral or defensive zone or behind the net. If behind the net, playing on your off side can cause problems. The puck, if sent to the forehand, will be right along the boards, prone to bad bounces, and also makes your head turn away from the play. On your strong side your body is naturally turned towards the play, making it easier to read what is happening since you get the pass on your forehand and have your head up.

These are but a few examples of the difficulties most defenseman have playing their off-side. Not to say that it doesn't have certain advantages of that no one can do it
Pretty much sums it up. I play LD and often switch over if we have a surplus of them so you can say I've adapted to the change over the years, but it will still cause me to blow some plays simply due to the mechanics working against me, as mentioned above.

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07-27-2010, 09:10 AM
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pacio Ready View Post
There are a couple of things that come into play here. Firstly, it will always depend on the individual's ability to adapt his playing style to his new environment. With this element aside, here are a few things to consider:

1. Defensive Zone Puck Handling
As most forechecking structures rely upon forcing the play to a given side while protecting the centre of the ice, pressure generally drives a defenseman who is in control of the puck towards the outer boards. Thus, a left-handed defenseman playing on the left side will be pushed towards his forehand, which shouldn't be a problem (unless you're Mike Komisarek). When playing on your opposite side, you are pressured towards your backhand, where the margin of error is assuredly greater.

2. Stick Position - Closing the Middle
Again with my example of a left-handed defenseman playing the left side, when a forward comes in on the rush, it is relatively easy to close the middle since your stick is already there and you have a longer reach. If playing the right side, blocking the middle is more difficult, and this often leads to excessive reaching, which puts the defenseman in a vulnerable position should any quick change of direction be necessary

3. Offensive Zone Puck Pinch
If the puck is rimmed along the boards in the offensive zone and the defenseman needs to keep it in, it is far easier on your strong side. If the puck is along the ice, your stick is easily in position on your forehand. One your weak side you either have to play it on your backhand or prop your skate against the boards, which takes up valuable time. If it is in the air (strong side), you can use either your body or glove, but your stick remains positioned to reach into the middle should you fail to control the puck.

4. Defensive Zone 'Over'
It happens hundreds of times per game, the cross-ice 'over' pass between defenceman. Happens either while retreating in the neutral or defensive zone or behind the net. If behind the net, playing on your off side can cause problems. The puck, if sent to the forehand, will be right along the boards, prone to bad bounces, and also makes your head turn away from the play. On your strong side your body is naturally turned towards the play, making it easier to read what is happening since you get the pass on your forehand and have your head up.

These are but a few examples of the difficulties most defenseman have playing their off-side. Not to say that it doesn't have certain advantages of that no one can do it
Very good explanation. Thanx

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Old
07-27-2010, 01:12 PM
  #18
Max Levine
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pacio Ready View Post
There are a couple of things that come into play here. Firstly, it will always depend on the individual's ability to adapt his playing style to his new environment. With this element aside, here are a few things to consider:

1. Defensive Zone Puck Handling
As most forechecking structures rely upon forcing the play to a given side while protecting the centre of the ice, pressure generally drives a defenseman who is in control of the puck towards the outer boards. Thus, a left-handed defenseman playing on the left side will be pushed towards his forehand, which shouldn't be a problem (unless you're Mike Komisarek). When playing on your opposite side, you are pressured towards your backhand, where the margin of error is assuredly greater.

2. Stick Position - Closing the Middle
Again with my example of a left-handed defenseman playing the left side, when a forward comes in on the rush, it is relatively easy to close the middle since your stick is already there and you have a longer reach. If playing the right side, blocking the middle is more difficult, and this often leads to excessive reaching, which puts the defenseman in a vulnerable position should any quick change of direction be necessary

3. Offensive Zone Puck Pinch
If the puck is rimmed along the boards in the offensive zone and the defenseman needs to keep it in, it is far easier on your strong side. If the puck is along the ice, your stick is easily in position on your forehand. One your weak side you either have to play it on your backhand or prop your skate against the boards, which takes up valuable time. If it is in the air (strong side), you can use either your body or glove, but your stick remains positioned to reach into the middle should you fail to control the puck.

4. Defensive Zone 'Over'
It happens hundreds of times per game, the cross-ice 'over' pass between defenceman. Happens either while retreating in the neutral or defensive zone or behind the net. If behind the net, playing on your off side can cause problems. The puck, if sent to the forehand, will be right along the boards, prone to bad bounces, and also makes your head turn away from the play. On your strong side your body is naturally turned towards the play, making it easier to read what is happening since you get the pass on your forehand and have your head up.

These are but a few examples of the difficulties most defenseman have playing their off-side. Not to say that it doesn't have certain advantages of that no one can do it
Very well done, Pacio! The stick position was my main argument but I like your point #4. Happens a lot, puts the D in a vulnerable position, causes many turnovers and slows down the counter-attack. That must be, or should be, part of the opponents strategy to identify defensemen playing on their wrong side and apply pressure accordingly.

In the offensive zone, a point could be made in favor of the wrong side as it allows a better angle for a shot from the point.

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