Mastering the Power Play: 5 Ways to Succeed

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mastering the power play
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5 ways to change your power play for the better

By Emma McLean 

When it comes to mastering the power play, the difference between being merely good at hockey and playing your best hockey is understanding the game. Today’s top hockey players take the time to examine and understand every element of their game. They are always looking for ways to improve. All of which lead to mastering the power play.

During a power play, your team has a huge advantage over your opponents. If you are able to capitalize on those moments you will win games. And if you are looking to improve the power play element of your hockey game, then this article is for you. 

What is a Power Play? 

A power play occurs when your opponent has at least one player serving a penalty. Your team will have an advantage as they’ll have more players on the ice. A 5 on 5 play becomes a 5 on 4 play, and so on. This all depends of course on how many players are penalized. 

There are a number of different types of penalties that can be served: a minor (2 minutes); double minor (4 minutes); and a major, such as a 10-minute misconduct. (And of course there’s the notorious “five for fighting.”) The severity of the penalty will affect how long the power play will go on for. Even in a two-minute power play, there are numerous opportunities for your team to score. 

If your team is not regularly winning games, then there is a good chance that they are not taking advantage of the power play. If you’re betting on the NHL, you’ll be putting your money on the team with the better power play strategy. 

A power play is a creative way to punish your opponents for their mistakes. If they are a team that lacks discipline, you can really capitalize on their errors. 

Here are 5 tips your team can use for mastering the power play: 

#1. Understand Your Opponent’s PK and Use it Against Them 

The most important thing you can do if you want to make the most of your power play is to research your opponent. You want to analyze how they play their PK (penalty killing). 

Most teams fall apart under the pressure of a power play, particularly if they are playing in a rec hockey game. Study how your opponents cope with a power play and learn their PK strategy. Knowledge really is powerful if you know how to use it. Learn how your opponents play and exploit their weaknesses. 

#2. Be Too Fast for Them to React 

If the team you are playing against isn’t very well organized or is lacking in speed, it stands to reason that to make the most of this you need to ramp it up when on a power play. 

Rush towards your opponents with speed and purpose, and don’t give them a chance to react. Your speed will expose gaps in their lines and show their weaker players, providing the opportunity for you to skate loops around them.

#3. Grind Down the Defense 

Suppose you are playing against a team that is really strong in defense. If that’s the case, then your power plays can seem like it’s futile. One thing you should bear in mind is that power plays are part of a larger game. So if you cannot break down the defense in one power play, then you can at least weaken them to prepare for more mastering the power play later on. 

How do you do this? 

Keep pressing, keep looking for their gaps and their weaknesses. Be unrelenting and tire them out. This will pay off for you in the long run, especially if your team is in better shape. 

#4. Build Depth in Your Squad 

We mentioned earlier about the importance of reading how your opponents play. You should also remember that they can use the same technique to study how you play, and then try and get the best of you. 

Fortunately there is a way to combat this: Build depth in your squad and practice a whole set of power play tactics. Knowing that there is a range of moves that you can pull out that your opponents cannot predict is an excellent position to be in.

#5. If All Else Fails, Be Confident and Take Risks 

What if you have studied your opponents, pushed them hard and run circles around them, and have still made no progress or scored no goals? Then you should consider taking more risks and playing more boldly. 

Remember that you have an extra player on the ice and trust the skills of your teammates. When you get the chance, make a risky pass, shoot on net, and push your opponent a little further. 

You never have a better chance to score points than when you are on the power play. If there is any time to take risks in a hockey game, it’s during a power play.

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