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Improve as a Playmaker or Keep Shooting?

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10-24-2012, 12:09 PM
  #1
Jarick
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Improve as a Playmaker or Keep Shooting?

Going into my 6th year of rec hockey, low level C league. Always been a shoot first player. Get up the ice fast and get a shot on net. I've been scoring more and more over the years but rarely get assists.

I'm always hearing about the importance of those who can make everyone around them better. I tend to do the opposite, hog the puck, and neutralize my linemates. Some guys complain, others don't mind, and my captain keeps telling me to shoot the puck as much as possible.

The thing is I'm one of the faster skaters on my team, so I tend to lead the rush and can't see anyone with me. If I slow up to let them catch up, the defenders come back too. If I try and drop pass, usually my guys take off in the other direction. And I'm awful at passing on the 2-on-1.

When I play up a level, it's easy to do, since the guys are so fast you can keep them in your peripheral and they handle pucks really easy.

As it is, usually I get on a line with some of the weaker skaters/players on the team and rely on beating the defense for a rush a handful of times. We almost never cycle or pass the puck at my level because most just don't send or catch passes well.

If you were in my shoes, would you keep trying to score as much as possible and pretty much never pass the puck, or would you pass as much as possible to try and improve that side of your game?

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10-24-2012, 12:32 PM
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I think you always want to improve, and it sounds like your shooting is at a level where you can focus on improving the passing/play-making aspect of your game. Maybe you could talk to your line-mates about trying set plays or scenarios when you're leading the rush. Or perhaps you could curl behind the net and look for the centering pass?

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10-24-2012, 02:06 PM
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hockeyisforeveryone
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I wouldn't overthink it.

Just make the best play to get the puck into the net. If a pass to an open player is best in that instant then dish it off, if you've got the lane/space to shoot then let it rip.

Better to be a shoot first player IMO. There's nothing worse than being a "playmaker" to a fault, missing great opportunities to shoot because you want to make a cute pass. I also think it makes the game more exciting (especially for goalies) to have lots of shots.

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10-24-2012, 02:22 PM
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It depends on how far you want to take your game. If you are fine with playing in a lower level C league for the forseeable future, just keep doing what you are doing, and eventually you will be of the best guys in your league.

If you have aspirations of moving up to higher levels, you have to work on your overall game. Unless you are truly elite, most teams won't put up with a puck hog type player. If you start working on getting your teamates involved the game will open up to you and your team will start surounding you with players at a similar skill level.

Just my .02, Good luck

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10-24-2012, 02:27 PM
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If you're leading the charge most of the time, draw the focus with you and go behind the net or into the corner. Maybe occasionally pull up at the blue line or 1/2 boards. Your speed should buy some time for team mates to get into the zone.

Take some risks if the game allows. I make a lot of passes to areas not because of where people are but where people aren't. For example if I'm cutting across the middle and enter the zone and all I see in the middle and/or left side of the ice is opponents, I'll drop the puck back to the right because in theory there should be at least 2 of my guys in the general vicinity. If the D gives me room, I'll do the same play deeper in the zone. We've scored a lot of goals with that one. My team mates aren't aware enough to know what I'm doing. They just know to go to the net so I'll try and put the puck where they can skate into it without deviating too much from North-South.

Another thing you can do is move back to D. I've seen firsthand not only with quite a few friends/team mates as well as myself that spending some time on D was the biggest factor in gaining on-ice awareness. It also improves your passing because theoretically you should have people in front of you to pass to and you'll have ample opportunities to work on a variety of passes.

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10-24-2012, 03:16 PM
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DJ Breadman
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depends what your looking for if your a team guy then you will want to make the team better, if not then keep scoring that's what I would do, that's where the money and headlines are LOL

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10-24-2012, 03:20 PM
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I spent two seasons at D and will be splitting time between D and forward this year. As a defenseman, I'm usually 1:2 with goals to assists and as a forward 3:1 or higher. I'm not bad on defense with starting the rush or breakout but my captain does prefer me up front because I shoot the puck and score goals.

When I've played up a level, it's closer to 1:1 or 1:2 goals to assists because the other guys are faster and in better shape, so I'm more mooching points than really generating offense. That captain wants me to dump and chase more than anything because he hates turnovers and spending time in our end.

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10-24-2012, 03:40 PM
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My theory was to try to make myself a complete player so that I'm relevant no matter what team I'm on. If the team needs a playmaking center I can do that, a scoring winger I can do that, a defensive defensemen or an offensive defensemen I can do both. So depending on what my team needs I'll try to fill that role. If you're a shooter on a team with no other real good shooters then keep shooting the puck. It's the captains job to find a playmaking center to play with you rather than have you try to fill a role you're not comfortable with.

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10-24-2012, 04:16 PM
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do0glas
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Personally...and im taking most of my experience from indoor soccer. every team has a different make up.

For your league, focus on winning.

but if you have aspirations you should be getting into some drop ins, those are for practicing things you wouldnt normally do.

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10-24-2012, 10:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hockeyisforeveryone View Post
There's nothing worse than being a "playmaker" to a fault, missing great opportunities to shoot because you want to make a cute pass.
wow, i can think of quite a few worse things.

Jarick, get a linemate or two, bring them to stick-n-puck/practice, and do passing drills until your legs and hands fall off. all sorts, starting a rush, with linemates providing puck support, outlet passes, give and go's. whatever you can think of, practice it.

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10-25-2012, 12:52 AM
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JustinW
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I've been in the same boat before. I say do what makes you have fun. When I was a goal scorer ppl told me to pass more when I became a good playmaker ppl said why don't you shoot more. Now I don't care what ppl say I just do what I have fun doing.

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10-25-2012, 12:53 AM
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learn how to michigan

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10-25-2012, 01:42 AM
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tarheelhockey
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hockeyisforeveryone View Post
I wouldn't overthink it.
That's good advice. The worst thing you can do to your game is to become an over-thinker. Just do what the situation demands as best you can; if you work on playmaking outside of actual games (at pickup, etc) you'll start to see passing opportunities reflexively. Until that happens, forcing yourself to pass will just make you a bad passer.

IMO, the best time to really work on this stuff is "garbage time" late in wide-open games. Your weaker linemates will appreciate a little extra opportunity to work out of a set offense, and you'll start to develop some chemistry. But in a tight game? Hell no. If you're on the rush alone, shoot the puck!

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10-25-2012, 02:57 AM
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To me it's as simple as, if it's a good play to shoot you shoot, and if it makes sense to pass you pass.

Read the play and do what you feel is the right play or the most comfortable.

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10-25-2012, 07:30 AM
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As said before, don't over think it. If you do then you waste time, then passing lanes close, D block shots, etc. Take a quick glance around and if there is an obvious man open then pass it as then the teams D has to shift and open new lanes for other players to get open. If there is no obvious open passing lane then shoot the puck.

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10-25-2012, 10:09 AM
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Joe Cole
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What are you in it for? To have fun, right? Do you not find any fun in passing the puck?

To me, hockey is a team game. While I am a shooter too, I really enjoy setting my team mates up.

Tell you what, here are two things you can do to make things interesting if you play with guys who are much slower than you.

1- once you cross the blue line, back up the D about 5 feet, then cut to the short side boards and loop back. You will have backed off the D, possibly confused them and your team mates will now be entering the zone. You still have the option of shooting, but now you also have the option of passing it to forwards that have the D on heir heels.

2- same situation, cut across the zone diagonally, you can have new angles to shoot from, plus your team mates may have had time to catch up and you can feed them and crash the net.

Find the joy in being a team mate.

I do not want to offend when I say....there are a lot of individual sports if you don't enjoy playing as a unit.

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10-25-2012, 10:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Cole View Post
What are you in it for? To have fun, right? Do you not find any fun in passing the puck?

To me, hockey is a team game. While I am a shooter too, I really enjoy setting my team mates up.
Scoring a goal is as much fun as setting up a nice scoring play, but the latter rarely happens...

Quote:
1- once you cross the blue line, back up the D about 5 feet, then cut to the short side boards and loop back. You will have backed off the D, possibly confused them and your team mates will now be entering the zone. You still have the option of shooting, but now you also have the option of passing it to forwards that have the D on heir heels.
I have tried this but usually what happens is the backchecking forward from the other team catches up first and then strips the puck from me or at least forces me to ring it around the boards. I do try this a couple times per game but rarely does it work.

Maybe it'd be better if I instead of looping towards the boards just stopped? Maybe if I'm more focused on backing off the defenseman than evading him...

Quote:
2- same situation, cut across the zone diagonally, you can have new angles to shoot from, plus your team mates may have had time to catch up and you can feed them and crash the net.
So...skate between the two defensemen on a 1-on-2 situation? How does this work on the rush? Any way I'm envisioning this, I'm looking at less ice...I come in at one side or the other and then skate to the far corner with the defenseman, my guys are still behind me...

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10-25-2012, 11:03 AM
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Originally Posted by newfr4u View Post
Jarick, get a linemate or two, bring them to stick-n-puck/practice, and do passing drills until your legs and hands fall off. all sorts, starting a rush, with linemates providing puck support, outlet passes, give and go's. whatever you can think of, practice it.
We do practices a couple times a year, but usually they aren't too effective. I would really like to spend more time doing line rush vs 1 defender. We do line rush (3) vs two defenders, but our passing and skating is not where it needs to be to really work as a line. It gets cut off too easily. Most of our practices are just breakout drills and a scrimmage.

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To me it's as simple as, if it's a good play to shoot you shoot, and if it makes sense to pass you pass.

Read the play and do what you feel is the right play or the most comfortable.
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigbadbruins1 View Post
As said before, don't over think it. If you do then you waste time, then passing lanes close, D block shots, etc. Take a quick glance around and if there is an obvious man open then pass it as then the teams D has to shift and open new lanes for other players to get open. If there is no obvious open passing lane then shoot the puck.
For both of these, that's what I feel like I'm doing...but I have to think if I can make my linemates better, I should be seeing more.

When I play up, the rest of the guys are much better than me at pretty much everything and they can make these plays, short passes, they move through the zone and draw defenders, they put the puck to an area and a guy is moving in to get it, etc. I can't see what they are seeing, or maybe I'm not used to it. Either way, it seems like the better skilled guys make each other better...on my team I have no clue how to do that.

Hopefully I get to spend some time at D this year to try and improve at reading and making plays again. There's a few skilled guys on the roster I talk with and try and work out what we're doing but usually when it fails I get back into bad habits of doing it all by myself.

Also, our team tries to spread out the skill so usually it's one skill guy per line and two worker guys. Which works fine for me because whenever I play with a skill guy I hog the puck and he never touches it. Ugh.

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10-25-2012, 01:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Jarick View Post
We do practices a couple times a year, but usually they aren't too effective. I would really like to spend more time doing line rush vs 1 defender. We do line rush (3) vs two defenders, but our passing and skating is not where it needs to be to really work as a line. It gets cut off too easily. Most of our practices are just breakout drills and a scrimmage.
so what you are saying is that you need more practice as a line. i am not talking about team practices, just grab your linemates, and do skating/passing/puck support until all of you know what to do.

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10-25-2012, 01:34 PM
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I do that with one guy, we're good friend since before hockey so we hit SnP or outdoor skate a few times a year. Lots of passing, LOTS of passing drills, some shooting, a bit of skating, mostly passing and 1-on-1 games. Screwing around.

It gets thrown out the window when there's defenders though.

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10-25-2012, 02:33 PM
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Shooting less doesn't mean you have to automatically be a pass-first player. Make an effort to round out your game without forcing passes. As you get better, you'll be able to identify when you don't have a shooting option but have a player open to make the pass to.

I'm pretty much the opposite of you... I was always the guy who looked for the pass, regardless of whether or not I was in a shooting position. Hell, if someone yelled "SHOOT" at me I would almost instinctively pass it to him. My game improved a fair bit when I stopped trying to overpass the puck and started putting shots on net. I'm still not a shooter though... I almost always drive the net or go for the deke if I need to score. The only really good shot I have is my snapshot, which I can launch mid-stride around a defender.

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10-25-2012, 02:36 PM
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tarheelhockey
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I have tried this but usually what happens is the backchecking forward from the other team catches up first and then strips the puck from me or at least forces me to ring it around the boards. I do try this a couple times per game but rarely does it work.

Maybe it'd be better if I instead of looping towards the boards just stopped? Maybe if I'm more focused on backing off the defenseman than evading him...

I like what Crosby and Skinner sometimes do in this situation -- instead of looping toward the boards Gretzky-style, turn your back to the boards and glide with your skates in the 10-o'clock, 2-o'clock position. Personally I'm not a strong enough skater to use it a lot, but it seems to give you the effect of backing off the defense while still being turned toward the play, ready to make a move on the backchecker and able to pass on your forehand. And in a beer league context, most defenders (myself included) are kind of mesmerized by it and don't have much of a plan for defending it.

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10-25-2012, 02:54 PM
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I like what Crosby and Skinner sometimes do in this situation -- instead of looping toward the boards Gretzky-style, turn your back to the boards and glide with your skates in the 10-o'clock, 2-o'clock position. Personally I'm not a strong enough skater to use it a lot, but it seems to give you the effect of backing off the defense while still being turned toward the play, ready to make a move on the backchecker and able to pass on your forehand. And in a beer league context, most defenders (myself included) are kind of mesmerized by it and don't have much of a plan for defending it.
Interesting idea. I can do that (somehow) and do it behind the net but usually not with the puck. How do you protect the puck doing that? If I'm playing with someone speedy who comes up the other side I could definitely see trying that.

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10-25-2012, 03:01 PM
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tarheelhockey
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Interesting idea. I can do that (somehow) and do it behind the net but usually not with the puck. How do you protect the puck doing that? If I'm playing with someone speedy who comes up the other side I could definitely see trying that.
As far as protecting the puck, I think it helps if your back is to the weak-side boards, ie you are now holding the puck away from the defenseman.

If there is a backchecker coming hard at you, you can either deke him, pass to a teammate across the middle, or make a short pass back up the boards if there's a trailer there. Or, hold it till the last second and ring it around. Lots of options since you're facing the play and in optimal body position.

If your back is to the strong-side boards, you're a bit limited because you're basically holding the puck out to the defenseman. There's still an option to bait him into stepping up and then make a strong move around him, or ring it around. The backchecker will be trouble, though.

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10-25-2012, 03:36 PM
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I like the concept, but I'm just thinking in practice no defenseman is going to give me 15+ feet on gap. Usually at our level they play a pretty tight gap as most players don't have the speed or skill to get around someone right in front of them.

Still, the idea of stopping instead of curling to the boards (so long as backchecker isn't on my ass) is really interesting. Will try if I play up next week. Thanks!

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