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Defense zone face-offs

November 18, 2010 General No Comments
By Quint Randle

Figures A & B

Your goalie may have just come up with a big save, but now you’ve got a big face-off coming up in your own zone—right in front of your net. The way your team sets up before the puck is dropped in no small way determines what happens after that biscuit hits the ice.

From a recent game between the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim and the Boston Bruins, I’ve mapped out several face-off set-ups the Ducks utilized when they were in their own zone. Hopefully, you can spot something your team is doing wrong, or visualize some better positioning for your team.

Figure A shows the formation most used often by the Ducks which is the traditional 5-on-5 set-up. The right wing and defensemen are huddled close together in a triangle formation. Note that the goalie has a clear view of the face-off. While the wing initially takes out the opposing wing, the two defensemen are prepared for the puck going to the slot, either directly or as a rebound.

Figure B shows a formation the Ducks used several times as well. The only difference I could see was that the opposing left wing had set up several feet up on the face-off circle away from the Ducks right wing. This allows the Bruins center to draw back to the left winger who may have time for a quick release on net. Additionally, it blocks the path of the Ducks right winger if they are planning to cover the Bruins left point.

Figure C shows how the Ducks set up when they were a man down in their own end. It is virtually the same set-up as Figure B, except they are missing the second defenseman. From an offensive standpoint, note how the Bruins left defenseman is right on the face-off circle while the right defenseman covers the boards. The Ducks right wing and lone defenseman must be prepared for either a draw back to the Bruins right defenseman or, if the face-off isn’t clean, for the puck to be loose in the slot with three Bruins (center, left wing, left defenseman) in close. It is essential with this set-up that the Ducks center either win the draw or effectively tie up the Bruins center.

Figure D shows a defensive zone face-off in a 4-on-4 skating situation. The Duck’s defenseman is neither directly behind or to the side of his fellow left winger. He is ready, however, to block a shot if the Bruins right defenseman gets the draw and slides to the center. Notice how the Bruins left wing is set up further up along the circle away from the defending right wing.

Figure E shows the set-up the Ducks used when they were short handed and the face-off took place just outside their zone. The lone defenseman was set-up to the right of the centerman towards the boards. This protects against the Bruins using the boards to penetrate the zone. When the face-off took place at center ice a few minutes later, the defenseman was set-up directly behind the center.

Figures C & D
Figure E

This first appeared in the 03/1997 issue of Hockey Player Magazine®
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