Jets’ D-zone change of direction exit
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 16/01/2015 (2871 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
44 Zach Bogosian, D 39 Tobias Enstrom, D 26 Blake Wheeler, RW 18 Bryan Little, C 16 Andrew Ladd, LW
One of the dramatic changes for the Jets this season has been the play in their defensive zone. Winnipeg’s goals against is now in the NHL’s top 10, a significant improvement from a year ago when they finished 22nd overall and surrendered, on average, about half a goal more per game.
The Jets consistently speak of the system they are using in their defensive zone and the buy-in to it comes with the success they are having. The play illustrated here is a staple of their D-zone exits.
THE CHANGE IN DIRECTION
Florida is forechecking, trying to cut the ice in half to create a turnover. A puck comes through to Toby Enstrom (39) who moves the puck away from the front of the ice to the boards.
Blake Wheeler (26) is the first player on the puck and he makes a deft pass back to Zach Bogosian (44). Florida continues to pressure, but Bogosian reads the play and makes a chip behind the net to Enstrom, who carries the puck up before passing to Bryan Little (18) for a quick D zone exit.
J.P. EXPLAINS WHY IT WORKS
“With Florida pressuring with two players, one pass beats those two and Enstrom has a whole half of ice to use now, which makes it easier for him to break out. Bogosian has control here and is looking at the play as it is developing. He has time to feel the pressure and sees that the other side is all open. He has time to make a decision but there are times when his ‘D’ partner may call for him to move the puck to him. What’s important is Bogosian can’t just throw the puck blindly or rim it hard around the boards because the only player who could get to it then is a Panther. But, in this example, it’s one little chip and that whole side is open to give the Jets an easy exit.
“It works because the high Panther forward has no chance to put pressure on Enstrom so he has to back out and the defencemen can’t pinch because they want to make sure the Jets don’t end up with a 3-on-2 the other way.
“Enstrom has a number of options here: he can skate it out of the zone himself or pass it to Bryan Little or Andrew Ladd. He chooses to skate the puck up, then make a pass to Little. With that the ice is still open and the Panthers begin backing up.
“We’ve seen them use this effectively a lot this season and it’s allowed them to generate offensive opportunities because they are able to generate speed in the neutral zone, beginning in their own zone.”
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 does Jets analysis for both TSN 1290 and Radio Canada and teaches power skating and skill development for kids of all ages (firstname.lastname@example.org).
— Ed Tait