On Twitter yesterday, I pointed out the chess match going on between Tampa Bay’s PP and New Jersey’s PK. Between shot lanes, stick lanes, power play roles, personnel, etc…There is so much going on that allows a play to unfold on special teams. From a strategic and skill standpoint, special teams are really fun to dissect.
I got a call from Robbie Schremp (11th all-time in OHL scoring, 10 year pro, 1st round draft pick of the Edmonton Oilers) about this play and he gave his perspective. As one of the most gifted players I’ve ever seen, it was awesome hearing his take on how he looked at this Power Play, specific to the certain role that he often played on the halfwall. Here were his thoughts:
As the player on the Half-wall, you have to be the most peripheral player in terms of vision on the ice. A lot of times the puck and play run through your set of eyes and you have to be able to see the play unfolding. If you’re not a peripheral player, you shouldn’t be playing in this spot on the PP.
On the Power Play, and in that spot, it’s important to watch a couple of things:
The defender’s sticks and their toes.
First, let’s talk about the sticks. I like to think of it as like watching windshield wipers on a car. The defender’s stick is making windshield-wiper-like movements…and if you time it right you can find and expose the little holes they make. That’s what Kucherov does on this play through Coleman’s stick on his pass to Point in the middle.
Next, let’s talk about the defender’s toes…specifically the forward up high and the net front D. If their toecaps are pointing towards you they’re probably coming at you…leaving one of your teammates open with the defender’s back now to them. If the net front D’s toes are coming at you…it can leave the net front PP guy open. If the high forward is coming at you…it can leave the point open.
That’s why it’s so important that the Half-wall player have amazing peripheral vision. Those are really little things, but they end up making the plays that count…and in this instance for Tampa Bay…it made the goal. Kucherov did a great job as the guy on the Half-wall recognizing these tendencies, specifically the stick of Coleman on NJ. He is one of the best in the league and fun to watch every time Tampa Bay gets a Power Play.