I've been playing for about 2 years and play in a low level beer league. I understand basic positioning but the same problem keeps occuring: As a winger I try to keep my self positionally sound-watch the pointman, stay by the wall, wait for the breakout, etc. However every game our defensemen get sucked into the corners or behind the net and the center is no where to be found leaving one if not two open guys in the slot. So I break out off the pointman and head in to cover the slot man...and you guessed it the other team cycles to my open point and fires a rocket from the circle. Sometimes they score sometimes not but it still bothers me that technically thats my responsibilty and my guy with the scoring oppertunity.
I know that my place is covering the d-man but in my head it seems like its a better idea to cover the guy in the slot rather than my point. I also know that the slot is not my place but theres NO ONE there and these guys are just waiting for the tip in. Is this just a catch 22, the product of playing with beginners? And should I say "F-it" trying to cover someone elses position and just cover my man. I've tried telling the guys about it but it continues...
play back and let others know/learn the results of where they play or more importatnly arn't playing. in our league too, it seems that there is always a scurry to the puck and that any form of organization flys out the window...mainly falls back on inexperience/new-ness with team-mates
As a winger your primary responsibility defensively is definitely to cover the point, but that doesn't mean you're glued there. Sometimes two guy will go after the puck carrier down low (two D or a D and the C), if there's someone in a real dangerous position down low you pretty much have to go help, just try to skate in so that as you move to cover the guy in the slot you can still do your best to cut off the passing lane to the point man you were covering. Then get back to the point ASAP as soon as your dmen and C get back to man-to-man coverage down low. The winger who cuts in should be the one who can do it without leaving an easy pass to the point, i.e. if the puck is in the right corner, the winger covering the right d has to stay on his man, but the winger covering the left d, who probably has a tonne of traffic between him and the puck, should cut in if there's a guy in a real dangerous position in the slot.
But mostly, whenever possible there should only be one guy on the puck carrier, then everyone else can play roughly man to man and eliminate this problem.
Stay in position and watch your guy. If your teammates are out of position, that's their fault. If you get sucked out of position, now two guys are out and all hell breaks loose. Trust me, we have guys on our team that refuse to play positional hockey in our end and it kills us, and only gets worse if more guys start screwing around.
I agree 100% with Ponder. I would suggest you peel off your d-man and gravitate to the open man in the slot. BUT, I wouldnt get in front of him. I would stay close to a stick length apart. Basically, stay close enough that you could deflect any passes to him or can quickly tie him up if a pass comes his way.
Having said this, it sort of depends on your skating ability. If you know you can't "cheat" to the open man and still get back to the point in time to at least offer some disturbance to your D-man, then I would stick with you D-man.
We have the same problem with our D in my league. The Dman forgets to check behind him and we let in alot of backdoor goals. I just got into an argument with the D that is usually playing with my O line.
He was whinning about us having slower breakouts and trouble getting the puck out. But that is primarily because he gets fixated on the puck and leave his area open and we have to cheat down if we dont want to give up 10+ goals. If its a real obvious opportunity for a backdoor goal, I usually drop down, but yell at my D to get back into position. I stay somewhere between my position and his and just annoy the opponent by giving a little shove or lifting his stick, until the D wakes up. Ideally they realize their mistake and I can move back to my position.
But I feel you have to stop covering for them. If your team gives up a goal while you are out of position, it makes them think that you are the one screwing up. Sometimes you gotta let the Dman give up a few goals before they realize, hey that was the guy I should have been on
How about you switch to center? Is that an option?
That will allow you to contribute offensively off the breakout, while also enabling you to get down into the slot to cover for your positionally challenged Dmen.
If you remain at wing, just keep your position and let the other guys learn. If they're receptive to criticism, then bring up the positional flaws and try to help the team by teaching them how to play it correctly.
It actually all depends on what kind of system you're playing and what the expectation is of each player. Typically speaking, the defenseman is your man, and you should not give into the temptation of leaving your own assignment to cover someone else's. By doing so, you turn a bad situation into a worse one, as TWO players are now out of position instead of one which can lead to a snowball effect as other players scramble to cover other people's assignments. In general, stick to your man and let the centerman know that he's missed his assignment.
Having said that, I coach a AA Midget team and we teach a system where the center is taught to help the defense out in the corners (we have trouble getting the puck out of our own end) and the forward covering the point slides down in front of the net to pick up the open man.
Really, the key is ensuring that everyone's on the same page. You can't have one man playing one system and the other 4 playing another.
I don't think zone coverage works too well at the lower levels of hockey. All it takes is one mobile defenseman at the point and the whole thing can fall apart. Yes we see NHL'ers "cheating" all the time and leaving those points open, but they can skate and cut off lanes a lot better than low level rec players. More often that not, if you take that point man out as a passing option, no matter if he's glued to the boards, the blue line, or sneaks up, your breakout has a much better chance of working.
I can also say, as a defenseman, I absolutely love when the other team's winger "helps out his defense". Love it. It makes my job so much easier, because any loose puck that comes up the boards is guaranteed to stay in the zone, and often will be a nice shot on goal. But if the opposing winger is doing his job and staying between the hash marks and me at the point, my only option is to try and slow down the breakout, because he's closer to the puck and will always be able to skate it out, and I don't want to get burned by a chip off the boards.