Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

The Jets' neutral-zone 1/2/2/ 'deflector'

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THE SITUATION:

 There are several examples of this in every game, but in this particular instance the Jets trail the St. Louis Blues 1-0 in the second period of Thursday night's 2-1 Jets' loss when the Blues work to come out from their own zone after a face off at centre ice.

THE KEY:

To slow down an opponent's neutral-zone speed, prevent odd-man rushes and direct attacks to the Jet net by pushing them to either side of the ice. If successful, forcing the play in the neutral zone can lead to a turnover or a quick retrieval of the puck by the Jets' D.

THE JETS' RESPONSIBILITIES:

Frolik (67): He is the first to pressure the puck; attempts to push puck carrier off to one side rather than attack the middle. After forcing, his job is to apply back pressure so the player can't come back to the middle.

 Scheifele (55): After Frolik forces the puck to one side, Scheifele attacks the player going to the boards. His job is to not give the middle so that the only play is to chip it up along the boards or to try and squeeze a pass through the centre of the ice.

 Halischuk (15): Reads the play and then moves in to protect the middle by getting on top of the forward in the middle and prevent a pass going across to the far winger.

 Ellerby (7): Supporting Scheifele; if the puck is chipped in, he can retrieve.

 Stuart (5): In this particular play the forward, squeezed to the side by Frolik and then Scheifele, attempts to go cross ice but the pass is cut off by Stuart and the Jets have a quick breakout the other way.

J.P. SAYS:

"This is what I call the neutral-zone deflector -- 'trap' is such an ugly word -- to push the opposition to the outside because any kind of chance from there should be handled by Ondrej Pavelec.

"You really don't see the Jets chasing the puck as much as they used to do. Before, they used to chase and try to make pressure. But if the guy with the puck is staring at you, it's hard to pressure him because he's probably already thinking a step ahead and you can't see behind you. This is where you want to go into a position of defence. St. Louis had two shots in the first period the other night and very few quality scoring chances, even though they won. This allows the Jets to manage the game more effectively."

J.P. Vigier, who grew up in Notre Dame de Lourdes, Man., is a former NHL winger (Atlanta Thrashers, 2000-07) who finished his career in the Swiss league. He is part of TSN 1290's Jets' broadcasts and teaches power skating and skill development for kids of all ages (jeanvigier11@gmail.com).

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 14, 2013 C2

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