If you have ever watched Wayne Gretzky in action, you have no doubt, seen him initiate scoring opportunities from behind the opponentís net. Gretzky takes advantage of a seldom utilized (but well-protected) area on the rink called the captainís chair (the shaded area behind your opponents net in Figure 1). The captainís chair gets its name from a playerís ability to survey the ice (and a teamís offensive options) from that location. Utilizing the captainís chair in your teamís offensive attack will guarantee you additional scoring opportunities.
|Figures 1 & 2|
Why is it effective?
Using the captainís chair in your offensive attack is effective for at least three reasons:
1) Most defenders are afraid to commit themselves behind their own net. Most amateur coaches instruct their defensemen not to chase an attacker behind their own net because they will commit themselves. In many cases, this instruction is accurate. Because if an attacker skates with the puck behind their opponentís net, and a defender chases him, the puck carrier will emerge from the other side of the net to create a scoring opportunity while the defender is momentarily out of the play behind his own net.
2) It focuses the play deep in the offensive zone. By controlling the puck from the captainís chair, you force the defending team to concentrate on the play deep in that location. This creates an opportunity for a defenseman or forward to position themselves in the slot (or other scoring location) unnoticed, for a scoring opportunity.
3) It provides the attackers with time to get into an open position. If the defenders do not challenge a player in the captainís chair, the offensive team has time to get their players into open scoring positions.
Two ways to work it
Once your team has moved the puck into your offensive zone, you can work your offense from the captainís chair by passing the puck directly to an open teammate in the slot or use a give-and-go play to get it to the slot. To get the puck directly to the slot, the center (or other player in the captainís chair) fakes to one direction (the right in this example) and then moves with the puck to his left just enough past the net to make a clear pass to the slot (see Figure 2).
As the right defenseman (RD) sees the initial fake to the right, he moves in from his point position to the slot for a one-time shot to the far side of the net. During this play, the left wing (LW) maintains a position in front of the opponentís net to draw one defender away from the center and the right wing (RW) works to get open for a secondary outlet pass.
Give and go
The give-and-go version of this play is executed when the slot is well-covered by the defending team. In this example, the center again fakes to one direction and then moves with the puck to the other direction just enough past the net to attempt a clear pass to the slot (see Figure 3).
If the center reads that the slot is covered, he makes a pass to RW. As the defending team shifts to cover the new puck carrier, C, LW, and RD all reposition themselves to get open for a pass from RW. If RW passes to either RD or LW (options 1 and 2), a one-time shot is executed to an open area of the net. If neither of these two options is available, a return pass to the center is made to restart the process again.
Many scoring opportunities can be added to your teamís offensive arsenal by effectively using the captainís chair in your teams offense. If you donít believe me, just ask my friend Wayne!