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Breakout Plays: The Transition Game

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These 5 fundamental breakout plays are essential components of your team’s ability to control the game

By David Franco

Hockey is a fast-paced and exhilarating sport, and breakout plays are an important part of the equation in winning games. These strategies not only showcase the skills and coordination of the players but also create opportunities for high-impact plays.

This article discusses 5 fundamental breakout plays that are commonly used by professional hockey teams, with an emphasis on their effectiveness and popularity.

The Wheel Play


The Wheel Play is a classic breakout strategy that maximizes the speed and agility of the players involved. The defenseman retrieves the puck behind the net while the forwards spread out along the boards, creating space for the defenseman to skate up the ice with the puck. As they gain speed they pass the puck to a forward along the boards, creating an odd-man rush into the O (offensive) zone. This play is popular due to its simplicity and effectiveness in improving scoring opportunities.

The D-to-D Pass Breakout Play

The D-to-D (defenseman to defenseman) Pass is a popular breakout play that leverages the skill and positioning of the team’s D. In this situation one defenseman retrieves the puck in the D zone and passes it cross ice to their defensive partner, who then advances the puck up the ice either by skating or passing to a forward. This play is effective because it forces the opposing team’s forecheckers to cover more ice and often results in a clean breakout and transition to offense.

The Stretch Pass

The Stretch Pass is a high-risk/high-reward breakout play that requires precise timing and exceptional passing skills. In this instance, a defenseman or center retrieves the puck deep in their D zone and quickly sends a long pass to a forward waiting near the opposing blue line. The forward, having gotten ahead of the opposition’s D, receives the pass and breaks in alone on the goalie thus creating a high-quality scoring chance. While this play can be incredibly effective, it is also susceptible to interceptions and can lead to turnovers if not executed perfectly.

The Bump Back

The Bump Back is a popular and effective breakout play that requires excellent communication and timing between teammates. As the puck is retrieved in the D zone, a forward skates toward the defenseman and receives a quick pass. The forward then immediately “bumps” the puck back to the defenseman, who is now skating forward and has space to move the puck up the ice. This play is particularly successful against aggressive forechecking teams, as it creates quick puck movement and disrupts the opposing team’s defensive structure.

The Reverse Breakout Play

The Reverse is a clever breakout play that takes advantage of the opposing team’s aggressive forecheck. As the defenseman retrieves the puck behind the net, they fake a pass or skate in one direction, drawing the forechecker towards them. The defenseman then quickly reverses direction and passes the puck to their defensive partner on the opposite side, creating time and space for a clean breakout. This play requires excellent puck-handling skills and can be highly productive in creating offensive opportunities.

Understanding these fundamental breakout plays can significantly impact your betting strategy and outcomes. By analyzing a team’s ability to execute these plays and considering their effectiveness against specific opponents, you can make more informed bets on the league and Stanley Cup odds.

For instance, if a team excels at the Stretch Pass, they may have a higher probability of scoring against an opponent with a weaker defensive structure. On the other hand, a team that relies heavily on the Reverse play may struggle against opponents with disciplined forechecking systems. In addition to evaluating individual teams’ proficiency in executing these breakout plays, it’s essential to consider the impact of injuries, coaching strategies, and line combinations. A team that loses a key defenseman or forward may struggle to execute certain plays effectively.

The Bottom Line

The 5 fundamental breakout plays discussed in this article are essential components of your team’s ability to control the game. Understanding the intricacies of the Wheel Play, D-to-D Pass, Stretch Pass, Bump Back and Reverse tactics, can help you and your team significantly improve your chances of winning.

David Franco is a sports fan and dedicated writer who has been analyzing teams, players and plays in order to provide the most accurate opinions around the sports universe.

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