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Shutdown d-man tips

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Old
05-28-2012, 09:51 PM
  #1
JayRosehillforMVP
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Shutdown d-man tips

My first post here, but I've been reading here for a while. I'd like to know if anyone has any tips for me on how to be a great shut down defenseman. Personal experience, tips, links, anything you think may help me. I want to be a consistently reliable player that coaches would love to have on their team. P.s. I'm above average size and weight so that isn't an issue. Thanks!

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05-28-2012, 10:05 PM
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OpenIceHit42
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Learn to use your size and play physical, get your stick in the lanes and knock the passes away, if your allowed to hit make sure you finish every check making it hell on the forecheckers.

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05-28-2012, 10:09 PM
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AIREAYE
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A great tip that I've learned was to not stare at the puck when a forward is coming in on you because they can deke/ go through you easily. Look at the upper body and that way, you can impede their progress if the try to get a step in on you. They may be able to be fancy with their stick work, but chances are, their eyes, head and chest will give all the signals you need.

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05-28-2012, 10:19 PM
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Rumcajs
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Stay in front of the guy and play the body.

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05-28-2012, 10:20 PM
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BarberioTheBarbarian
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Play the body not the stick.

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05-28-2012, 11:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BarberioTheBarbarian View Post
Play the body not the stick.
You play the body, eyes up, stick on the ice to take away his pass/shoot options or for poke check. But don't watch the puck or chase it.

Also work on your gap control. Don't give him too much space or he can build up speed and go around you. Use angling to herd him into the boards or corner where he runs out of options.

If you skate into him, you have 1 do or die chance to get the puck or get burned. If you are able to stay with him and be patient, you'll have a more time to separate him from the puck and won't give him a breakaway.

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05-28-2012, 11:42 PM
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I taught myself to force guys to their back hand by shading into the shooting lane. The majority of guys I've played against don't like going to their backhands and they're not as dangerous so it made it a lot easier. Force them to their backhand, force them wide and make contact if they try to go through you. And never let guys cut through the middle. I don't play defense anymore but nothing drives me crazier than seeing guys on my team let guys go to their forehand AND through the middle of the ice. Where did you think they wanted to go?

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05-28-2012, 11:50 PM
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Know your partner and his style. If he likes to cheat up make sure you're there to cover him.

I'd like to add to the "don't stare at the puck" bit. Don't stare at puck or eyes.

Above all else. Make sure your skating is exceptional.

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05-29-2012, 12:42 AM
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ColePens
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A few things to study...

1) Gap control: Know everything about it
2) Hit/block shots: Study what pros do.
3) Be overly smart with the puck: Don't make the big play - throw the puck out when in trouble.

Honestly... the best shutdown defenders are the smartest hockey players. Study the game. Study angles. Study hits. Study blocked shots. Communicate every second of the game. Remember, be everyone's eyes out there.

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05-29-2012, 12:49 AM
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Work in tandum with your other D-man... when he is covering the puck coming up the wing, take the center & vice versa.
this gives you open space for a pass if an outlet is needed, and also to recover if the other d-man loses up the puck

Don't engage in the corner unless the center is nowhere near around and ensure someone is covering the low area

match speed with the forward coming through and keeping the winger on the outside all the way from the red line in...
after the blue line, if the winger carrying is coming with speed and you can't push him to the outside, make sure you cover the inside

play the body, not the puck... even in non-contact, you just take away the space where he can skate or move the puck to

your skates, shinpads, pants are as much of your defensive play as your active stick, use your body wisely

once you loose the puck, and you know your man is out of the play (if he blows past your poke check) control the puck, wheel it to a position where you can make a good breakout pass

use the boards and glass as outlets of there are no options
if that is covered, and there are no pass outlets, pass the puck to an area with less traffic... i.e. backwards pass to other d'man or winger along the boards behind the net
Or just throw the puck across with enough pace where the ref will blow off any icing calls

when in the offensive 3rd, stagger and work in tandum with your d' partner and if there are no options... its never bad to throw the puck back in the corner rather than turn it over

be prepared to take hard checks from forechecker... you can use your back to protect the puck, but you can pay for that...
make sure you get within a foot of the boards and jump into the glass when anticipating contact

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05-29-2012, 01:34 AM
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TJD
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Good shutdown dman?

Work not only on your backward skating, but on your cross-unders as well. You need to be able to go at full speed backwards and still use agility to move side to side. Look up "Mohawk pivots" on youtube to learn how to keep your speed while transitioning. IMO, skating is the most important skill for a "shutdown Dman" (or any position, but especially defense). If you have a terrible sense of balance or can't keep up with the forward, you are looking at some odd man rushes or key scoring opportunities. Good knee bend and strides will help you keep up.

All these other tips that have been posted are good, another one that I may have skipped over while looking to post this is use proper angles. Force guys towards the boards and take away the middle of the ice. Take away their "time and space" and keep your gap small.

Most points come back to skating, and if you don' have good mechanics, then you become a pylon.

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05-29-2012, 02:41 AM
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I switched from forward to defense a few years ago, and have gotten really good at it. Here's a few tips.

If a forward's coming at you, keep your head up, one hand on your stick, while moving backwards. If you do this properly, he won't have a lane to the net, can only get a quick, weak shot off, and can't pass across unless he stops and curls.

In the corners, use your body to pin the forward on the boards, and retrieve the puck with your stick.

Clear the front of the net, or make sure your goalie can see the shot.

Don't throw yourself in front of every shot headfirst. Block smartly, meaning kneel on one knee while trying to make yourself as big as possible. This way, you still have a skate planted on the ice for a fake shot, rebound, pass, and are not completely taken out of the play.

Have your head on a swivel, make sure you know where a guy's passing options are. don't focus on your guy only, put yourself in a position that its difficult for him to set up a prime scoring opportunity.

Offensively, don't try and blast it as hard as you can at the net every time. Try to hit the net, and let your forwards do the rest of the work. Its rare that you'll beat the goalie from that far out with a Chara type shot that actually hits the net.

Know where your forwards are all the time. That way, if you get the puck while the other team is in the zone, you can transition quickly and create a scoring opportunity.

This is not really a shut down Dman tip, but a tip any Dman can use. Don't be on eof those defenseman that tries to dangle players in your own zone. Get the puck out, dangling in the D zone is useless, hot dogging, and potentially very dangerous against your team.


All in all, I like Defense more than forward, because I discovered you can control the game a lot more. And having been a forward, it helps to know how forwards think. Hope this helped!

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05-29-2012, 03:31 PM
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JayRosehillforMVP
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All very very useful tips. I'll be sure to put them to good use. I also plan on watching elite d-man play and observe their decision making, gap control etc. Thanks for all the tips, guys.

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05-29-2012, 03:32 PM
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Oh and previous years of playing forward will certainly help me.

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05-29-2012, 03:49 PM
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Joey Banana
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Your game will improve with experience in that role. Watch NHLers and try things they do and use what works for you.

And something that helped me a lot: I always picked the most offensive gifted oponnent and tried to hit him with a hard hit very early in the game. This would set the tone and more often than not, that guy wasn´t a big threat anymore - at least when i was on the ice.

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05-29-2012, 05:05 PM
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To be successful, you can't really pinch to keep the puck in. If you're not 110 percent sure, then back off.

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05-29-2012, 07:56 PM
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All great advice so I'll only just add to it.

Talk to your goalie. If I've got a guy going fairly wide, my goalie prefers I don't try and block the shot as I may be screening him. By the same token when you see the opponent is about to shoot bring your legs together. When someone shoots it through your legs the goalie has no idea where it's going.

Don't let people sit in front of the net. Even if they aren't a threat, most goalies don't enjoy that. While in beer league there are never huge battles in front of the net when the puck isn't there, I still push people out of the way when my goalie is trying to watch the play. If you're bigger than the other guy, get low and put your stick right at their upper leg and just start pushing. Don't make a "hit" but just apply steady pressure. Either they will get pushed out of the way, or you will get them off balance. And you're not gonna get a penalty for pushing someone over with your body, unless of course you accelerate into them like a hit. Just skate up to the guy, and hip to hip slide him away.

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05-29-2012, 08:30 PM
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All great advice so I'll only just add to it.

Talk to your goalie. If I've got a guy going fairly wide, my goalie prefers I don't try and block the shot as I may be screening him. By the same token when you see the opponent is about to shoot bring your legs together. When someone shoots it through your legs the goalie has no idea where it's going.

Don't let people sit in front of the net. Even if they aren't a threat, most goalies don't enjoy that. While in beer league there are never huge battles in front of the net when the puck isn't there, I still push people out of the way when my goalie is trying to watch the play. If you're bigger than the other guy, get low and put your stick right at their upper leg and just start pushing. Don't make a "hit" but just apply steady pressure. Either they will get pushed out of the way, or you will get them off balance. And you're not gonna get a penalty for pushing someone over with your body, unless of course you accelerate into them like a hit. Just skate up to the guy, and hip to hip slide him away.
Great tip. Always communicate with your goaltender as a defenceman. You're working for him out there and nobody else, he bails you out and you bail him out. Every goalie has different tendencies and prefers his D-men to play a little different. I had some who preferred me to stay out around the circles and give him lots of room, others who preferred I be almost in the crease to move guys out, some who constantly communicated what he needed, others who needed their mind read.

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05-29-2012, 09:09 PM
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As others said, be smart and play the body, not the puck.

I never had any formal coaching but have found a lot of benefit in watching NHL games and only focusing on the type of defensemen I am looking to emulate (I made a forward to D switch and spent time focusing on puck-moving defensemen).

After that, trial and error. If you make a bad play, figure out why it happened. Was it your positioning? Bad bounce? Poor read?

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05-29-2012, 10:33 PM
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Hopefully Lidstrom returns. I really want to learn by watching the best.

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05-30-2012, 10:43 AM
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Whatever you do don't watch footage of Hal Gill

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05-30-2012, 12:09 PM
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Also work on your gap control. Don't give him too much space or he can build up speed and go around you. Use angling to herd him into the boards or corner where he runs out of options.
#1 most important trait for a defenseman. Nick Lidstrom has had a long and productive NHL career because he is very rarely caught out of position and he is the king of gap control.

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05-30-2012, 01:47 PM
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#1 most important trait for a defenseman. Nick Lidstrom has had a long and productive NHL career because he is very rarely caught out of position and he is the king of gap control.
One of the subtle things Lidstrom also does that makes him such a good defenseman is that he almost never crosses over when backskating and trying to change direction; he stays inside edge and goes knee to knee to make a big change of direction and he's just so quick and smooth at it. I watched a segment about him a while back and they spotlighted this about him and how much of a difference it makes. Went to a camp once where the coaches ran a great drill on this and it really helped me.

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05-30-2012, 02:41 PM
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One of the subtle things Lidstrom also does that makes him such a good defenseman is that he almost never crosses over when backskating and trying to change direction; he stays inside edge and goes knee to knee to make a big change of direction and he's just so quick and smooth at it. I watched a segment about him a while back and they spotlighted this about him and how much of a difference it makes. Went to a camp once where the coaches ran a great drill on this and it really helped me.
How do you pick up speed doing the knee to knee thing? I'm not a good skater, so my understanding of the knee to knee technique is that you're just using the inside edges and shifting your knee side to side quickly to keep going backwards. But if the forward picks up speed and I keep doing the knee thing he'll blow past me so I have to end up switching to a forward stride.

I wish there's a video of that segment you're talking about on youtube or something. In my beginner league I play defensive dman a lot cus my partners always seem to like being the offensive dman and pinching in every single time. I end up having to always stay back and be the first dman to cover a forward.

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05-30-2012, 04:41 PM
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How do you pick up speed doing the knee to knee thing? I'm not a good skater, so my understanding of the knee to knee technique is that you're just using the inside edges and shifting your knee side to side quickly to keep going backwards. But if the forward picks up speed and I keep doing the knee thing he'll blow past me so I have to end up switching to a forward stride.

I wish there's a video of that segment you're talking about on youtube or something. In my beginner league I play defensive dman a lot cus my partners always seem to like being the offensive dman and pinching in every single time. I end up having to always stay back and be the first dman to cover a forward.
A deep knee bend, and practicing a lot of C-cuts. The C-cuts help you get more out of each "stride", so that each one is more efficient. This is an area where leg strength can really pay off too, as well as explosiveness.

Really, a lot of being able to play good defense comes from a good skating foundation. It will help you face the player with the puck, but stay mobile while doing it. This helps prevent inexperienced defensemen from making the mistake of turning their back on the player, and losing track of what they are doing. A good foundation also helps you maintain balance. You can body up to players, without ending up on your butt. Even in a non-checking league, you want to be able to make contact and stay on your feet. It also helps when you're working with your stick, and because you can extend yourself a bit further without throwing your sense of balance off.

Not to mention the confidence associated with skating well. It's arguably the most important thing about ice hockey, and if you get comfortable doing it you're able to focus on other things without needing to worry about skating. Simple things are easier. Keeping your head up, for example. Going into the corner with confidence. Handling your man in front of the net, while also keeping tabs on the puck.

As for the rest of the topic, good defense, beyond hockey fundamentals, is mental. It's about awareness. A willingness to earn a few bruises, and take one for the team. Making your priority keeping the puck out of the net, which means making the safe play, and not necessarily the one that will lead to you getting points(though, the better ones learn to pick their spots in that regard). Also, don't try to do too much. Let your defensive partner do his job, and let your goalie do his job. If you start trying to do their job, you're not going to be doing your job, and that's how goals wind up in your net.

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