Session #6a: Penalty Kill Coverage

February 18, 2017

 

IMPROVING YOUR PENALTY KILLING SKILL (PK)

The objective of any penalty killing unit is to play the percentages and stop the opposing team from scoring. A team does this by using quickness, discipline, and an overall penalty killing strategy. The coach must ensure that the penalty killing unit understands and executes the following three penalty killing fundamentals:

1. Control the area around the slot, there are at least two ways of doing this. The first way is to physically position a penalty killing player in the slot to control that area, thus preventing attackers from screening your goaltender, deflecting a puck into the net, or receiving a pass or a rebound. The second, and probably more effective way, is to position the penalty killing players around the perimeter of the slot to control that area using a box or triangular formation. The penalty killing team plays a series of two-on-ones between the puck carrier and the supporting players, attempting to break up a pass and gain control of the puck. If a pass does get to the slot, one defender should immediately converge on the attacker to gain control of the puck and prevent any rebounds.

2. Coordinate with your goaltender & involve your goaltender in each penalty killing situation as this neutralizes some of the manpower disadvantage. Communication between the penalty killing unit and the goaltender is essential so there is no confusion about loose pucks or possible rebounds.

3. Work the clock when playing a running time game, get as many face-offs as you can. You’ll tick off five-to-10 seconds for every draw. Whenever possible, make player changes during the stoppages in play. You can slow down the pace of the opposition power play and rest your best penalty killers. Although the referee may object to too many player changes, take advantage of at least one or two per penalty.

 

4. When one player short, the most efficient way to play this situation is by using a box formation, where two penalty killers play low to cover the deep attackers and the remaining penalty killer(s) plays high to cover the opponent’s point men. When the attacker XLD has control of the puck high in the offensive zone, LD and RD play the pass between the deep attackers while LF and RF play the pass between the remaining attackers. If the puck is moved behind the net, do not go behind the net because the majority of time you will lose that race! When the puck is moved behind the net, play the percentages and force the puck carrier to make the first move. Generally, in this situation, one of the attacking defensemen will move in toward the slot for a shot. LF should constantly read the positioning of the attacking point men as well as the puck carrier behind the net. He should move to the slot along with either defenseman and communicate with his teammates along the way. When you gain control of the puck, freeze it, skate with it, or shoot it down the playing surface. Either way, you will knock precious time off the clock.

5. If you are two players short, the objective in this situation is to let your goaltender play the shooter while the penalty killers make sure that passes across the slot and rebounds are covered. Do your best to give the netminder a clear view of the incoming puck. Again, get as many stoppages of play as possible to try and eat away at the clock. If you come away without a goal being scored on you, you’ve done a fine job. Give your players plenty of practice in penalty killing situations so that they can experience the best tactics to use. Hockey is not a very forgiving sport for penalty killing teams that do not practice.

 

Penalty Kill: the Box Strategy

 

 

The Simple Box isn’t all that different than your basic defensive zone coverage formation during 5-on-5 hockey. The idea is to simply shut down the middle of the ice and eliminate prime scoring chances. Discipline is the key for each player, stay in formation while using an active stick to discourage any passes through the seams.
 

This strategy is most often used against the Overload Power Play system, where you are basically allowing the other team to have the puck so long as they are along the perimeter. Using this strategy is more about having good stick work and not chasing after the puck carrier.
 

Another main difference in this strategy is the importance of having the weak side players keeping their heads on a swivel or read & react to the other team. The biggest threat to score is the opposing player who’s positioned at the far post or "back door", so defenders must pay attention to where this player is in order to cut off his passing lane.
 

Coach Weiss Penalty Kill Strategy : Box

 

Penalty Kill: the Wedge or Triangle + 1 system

As you can see on the chart, the Wedge or Triangle +1 situates three collapsing players in the slot in a triangle formation.  The extra man (F) is free to run around and create havoc along the perimeter.  When the puck is moved across ice, the roaming forward can take a spot in the triangle and the left forward can go create havoc.
 

For the skaters in the triangle, their role is similar to that of the Box strategy in that they must contain the slot.  The one difference between this setup and the Box is that the weakside player has to always be responsible for the backdoor plays.  Since this formation is always rotating, every skater needs to be aware of the responsibilities of every position they rotate into. There’s a lot of thinking involved.

Coach Weiss Penalty Kill Strategy: Wedge +1

 

 


Penalty Kill: the Expanded Wedge +1 system

The main difference between the Wedge or Triangle +1 above and the expanded Wedge +1 is you are being more aggressive in your coverage. The players are expanding the coverage triangle while anticipating a pass from the opponent. The extra man (F) is free to run around and create havoc along the perimeter.  When the puck is moved across ice, the roaming forward can take a spot in the triangle and the left forward can go create havoc. For the skaters in the triangle, their role is to expand the coverage triangle and read + react to the opponents passing. Closing and pressuring the puck while maintaining the coverage in the slot.

Coach Weiss Penalty Kill Strategy: Expanded Wedge +1

 

Penalty Kill: 5 on 3 or 4 on 3 system

 

 Defending Against the Umbrella Power Play (PP)
Coach Weiss Penalty Kill: How to counter the Umbrella


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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