Defensive Orientation – Two on Ones
When dealing with a 2 on 1 a defensemen must remember several key points.
- Your goalies skill and preference
- As a player you should know your goalies ability. If your goalie is confident and easily stops shots coming from an angle, this will help you know how to play to 2 on 1 . You should work with your goaltender by watching and talking with them to form a good relationship with them. Remember the goalie is your best friend.
- Hand of the player coming down on you
- If you have a 2 on 1 then chances are you will have a few seconds to take a breath and prepare. Always watch what hand (which way they shoot) the two players are that are coming down on you- if a right handed players is coming on the left side he will be trying to cut in or make a pass 90 percent of the time. Vice versa if a right handed is coming in on his forehand then there is a lower probability for a pass. And if a pass comes it will be crisp and off the ice.
- Always keep yourself between the players and never commit early
- The biggest mistake a defensemen can make is to commit to a 2 on 1 at the blue line or even top of the circle. You have to draw the opposing players as close as you can before attempting any play. If the offensive players get a shot from above the hash marks they have a better chance to score. You want to try to make them play or shoot within 8 feet of the net. This creates a sense of panic and urgency in both the passing plays and the shooting, usually causing more mistakes.
Now to deal with most two on ones…
The main focus will be the most common two on one. A break out by the other team and a messy pinch by your defensive partner, this leaves you in the middle of the ice at the red line facing a breaking winger and center. At this point you must take several seconds and assess the players coming down. Check which way they shoot, an easy way is to use your peripherals. You will have a few seconds before the offensive players start to connect so do a quick glance at the player without the puck. Do this carefully and quickly as it only takes a few seconds for a good forward to notice and they will blitz by you or pass it off. Keep yourself between the two players and keep your attention on the puck carrier use quick glances and your peripherals to always have a eye on the person without the puck but make sure to focus on the puck carrier.
Now this is where we branch off. Some coaches will teach you to take the person without the puck every time and allow your goalie to take the shot this effectively gives them a breakaway if done improperly, but if executed perfectly it creates an easy away to dissolve any two on one.
When doing this it is important to remember the key points. NEVER do it to early and know which way the offensive player shoots. If a right winger is coming down on the left side he will try to get a pass or attempt to stay as far out as he can to get a better angle for a shot.. This is because his shot angles are greatly reduced if he is not hugging the boards. Use this to your advantage the farther out he goes the greater the distance for a pass. Start pressing him to stay out near the boards until you are 10 to 15ft form the net then you take the passer and if your goalie is properly positioned scoring from that angle will be difficult.
Another way and one I always will recommend is to stay between the players till the end. You will see a demonstration in the video sections and I recommend watching it before proceeding. This is extremely difficult as you must have a high hand eye coordination as well as the ability to use your feet but if you can do it properly it is a great tool.
This play only works if you believe a pass will be coming. Stay between the two players as you normally would now at the 15ft mark drop to a knee keeping you stick about an inch above the ice and cutting off almost the entire passing area. This is where it gets tricky and sounds silly. Make sure you leave your back leg that is on the ice tucked in ever so slightly; this will leave what looks like an easy passing lane. Most forwards will take the bait as they will want to make it look pretty.
Now that the trap is set you only have to close it. As your leg is dropped and you are heading to the net start angling towards the puck carrier this will increase the likely hood of him using the pass. Now all that’s left is to time your strike. When you see him about to pass stick your back leg out and use a sweeping motion. This will stop any puck up to 5 inches off the ice and if done properly will cause the puck to be completely removed from harms way. Another neat part of this is that if the passer cuts in and the puck carrier tries to drop a pass back you can attempt to stop the puck with you stick and if that doesn’t work you are in perfect position to sprawl down and go for a block shot. Now it sounds like a lot but once you get the perfect angles you will love it.
Also this play can be preformed skating forwards. If you had to pivot to keep up with the offensive rush then simply do the same play, drop the knee and leave the back bass wide open. When the forward bites sweep the leg and close the pass. Just remember this is risky and you should try perfecting it in practice before attempting it in a game.