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Hockey Skills - Defense 1 on 1 Along the Boards

Skill Drills

You are a defenseman. You patrol the blue line, protect your end, and sometimes get called on to block shots between the hash marks.

Every now and then, you like to introduce your opponents to the boards in the neutral zone or the corners of the rink. You could be gentle, but that's why you wear the pads.

Here's the Defensive Strategy Test:

1. You can see the whites of their eyes

You want to contain the player! Otherwise they will deke around you and skate up center ice on a breakaway. You don't have to lay the body on them, just corral them a little bit and let them know they are in your zone.

Cut off their passes, block their plays, and generally make their shift a living nightmare. Don't draw a penalty (a power play maybe though) but let the opponent know you have their number. You can memorize it from the reflection against the glass when they are trying to find a way out of the outer rink. If you are giving them pressure but no containment, they can look around you and get a nice view of the entire ice surface to make a play. Make your move too soon and they will deke around you and skate for the net. Contain them in a defined corner and you can go in for the kill when they finally give in to the idea they are the Mayor of Contained-ville.

2. You can't see their eyes, because their back is to you.

Poor forward. They don't see you coming, or they underestimate the pressure you are about to put on them. Teach them a lesson, and swiftly approach them (but safely, hitting from behind is for chumps) go for the puck and lift their stick. Give them a massage along the boards if you’d like, but don’t hit them like a freight train. You want the puck, not a game misconduct.

Let the player with the puck know your hulking form is between them, and the net. If you haven’t washed your jersey or aired out your pads for a while, you won’t have to (or get the chance to) get to close. Have your stick on the puck, and dig for it aggressively along the boards. Show weakness on a battle in your end, and the rest of the game won’t be much fun at all. Block passes and shots, and if you get the chance, fire the puck past your opponent along the glass, or up the middle to a friendly forward.

Playing the Guy or Gal Against the Boards

So if you are in mid-pressure, and your opponent pivots to face you, be smart about your move towards the puck. Flash them a smile, raise their stick, lay the body on them just to take their mind off the puck, and take the puck from them. Make a nice pass or let them remember your number as you skate away after you pick their pocket.

Whenever you approach a watchful opponent against the boards, push them away from your net. If you approach them head on, you risk them skating towards your net. But if you approach from behind and propel them back towards their own end, they will be helping you propel the puck towards their net. Raise their stick, once they realize you are escorting them home before they realize you mean to generate a scoring opportunity. You can also get some help from your friendly wingman team mate to capture the puck for the good guys.

A great defenseman uses the boards to their advantage many times during a game. Don’t be afraid to use your stick, your body and your skills. Just make sure you show your opponent the respect of making them aware of your skills when they aren’t looking. Don’t apply a hard check from behind to an unsuspecting player.