My "Aha!" Moment About Breakouts

Tonight we lost 6-1. I was generally happy with my play. I actually got some shots on net and almost scored on a breakout. However, we seemed to spend a lot of time in our own zone and had a hard time transitioning into  a breakout. This fact was highlighted during the second intermission when one of the veteran defensemen said something along these lines:

“I’m getting annoyed that I have no one to pass to. I’m just going to start icing the puck. Forwards need to get open for a breakout pass.”

He also mentioned some other things that sounded important and smart, but didn’t quite make sense at the time: shorter passes, hashmarks, etc. I was still a little gassed from my last shift, so I wasn’t paying full attention. I took the criticism for the constructive type that it was and, during the third period, spent my time in our zone trying to get open for my defensemen while playing my position close to the blue line.

We didn’t fare any better with our breakouts, so after the game I watched the highlights from the NHL Conference finals games and paid attention to the forwards in their defensive zone. They spent most of their time between the face off dots and the tops of the circles. When they received the puck from the defensemen for a breakout, they were usually near the hashmarks. I looked up breakout drills on Coach Nielsen’s site and the Weiss Tech Hockey site. I noticed that all the drills start with the forwards getting the puck at, or near, the hashmarks….

“Shorter passes….. Hashmarks……Aha!”

I need to get lower in my zone to help out my defensemen and to make the breakout passes shorter. I’m looking forward to putting my “Aha!” moment to the test during my next game.

Update: Found a couple of other sites to reinforce my “Aha!”.

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