Power play dynamics can pay huge dividends, as the outcome of a hockey game is often determined by the finest of margins
Hockey is a game where the outcome is often determined by the finest of margins. As such, finding a way to capitalize on the power play you have in your favor can pay huge dividends.
This article explores exactly how power play dynamics can be used to your advantage, both as a team and as an individual player.
Power Play Dynamics: Use them like a pro
If you play or watch hockey, you know what a power play is. A power play is deemed to be ‘in play’ when one or more players on the opposing team is consigned to the penalty box. When that occurs, your team is on the power play because you will hold an advantage of at least one players.
Knowing how to use these power play dynamics gives your team the advantage.
Don’t be afraid to break the playbook!
Part of being a good team player is understanding the patterns and movements within your team. Sometimes though there is nothing like going a bit ‘rogue’ and the power play is a perfect time for that. Your team has an extra player, which means they can take a risk; and that unpredictability in your play can be a real weapon against your opponent.
Providing you communicate effectively with your teammates, nobody will have an issue with you trying something different. Likewise, don’t come down on a teammate for showing their creative edge either; everyone loves a creative player.
Shots lead to goals
Sometimes doing the unexpected can be as simple as firing shots on goal. It really is obvious but you’re not going to score if you don’t get shots on net. And that man advantage provides a massive window of opportunity for you to rain down on the opposition’s goaltender. Where hockey players tend to go wrong with this advice though is in the balance of quantity over quality.
Where hockey players tend to go wrong with this advice though is in the balance of quantity over quality. Maintaining good technique is really important. That’s especially true when you want to optimize your odds to win the Stanley Cup and achieve success in all aspects of the game.
Adjusting your angle of attack is one key area you should look to perfect. On this subject, never feel like you have to bag the perfect goal. It’s completely acceptable to leave an assist on the table to unleash on the goal during those times.
Intensity is key
If you switch focus for a moment and put yourself in the shoes—rather, skates— of the other team that is defending the power play, then the main thing you’ll be looking to do during a power play is to ‘stop and destroy’. This can be easy against an overworked offense. To avoid that being you, make sure you and your team maintain a high level of intensity to your play.
On the puck, look to be creative. Off the puck make sure your movements are sharp and always keep the other team guessing. Just remember, your chances for shots will present themselves during the PP, but they’re not just given to you. Never take your foot off the gas just because the opposition is down a player.
Be a speed demon
Continuing the focus on intensity, speed is always a critical part of exploiting a power play as well. This can relate to your movements, which we’ve touched on briefly in the previous section, but specifically we are referring to puck speed.
Making yourself available to receive a pass is crucial. As an individual, there is lots you can do. Make sure you’re not hanging onto the puck too long and when you look to make a pass, be sure it’s done with speed and real intention. Getting quality passes is important too because you want your teammates to be able to maintain the amped up pace of play.
If you follow these steps you’ll find that the opposition are on their heels and in turn, shooting lanes will open up for your scoring chances .
Observe the PK strategy—a key power play dynamic
At the highest levels of hockey like the NHL, for instance, you’ll find scouts and replays galore to help with this next piece of advice. In addition, you can’t prepare to use your opponent’s penalty kill against them.
Pre-game research is tough at a rec hockey level, but knowing how you should respond to aggressive and passive PK tactics is the key. Providing you know how to react to each PK scenario you can quickly adapt when on the ice.
If you’re up against a team with a lackadaisical style of play, then your intention has to be to get right on top of the opposition almost immediately as you attempt to take charge of the game. If however their playing style is more aggressive, then your aim should be focused on getting your team motivated. Get that puck moving as soon as possible!
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