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The center (or centre in Canada) in ice hockey is a forward position of a player whose primary zone of play is the middle of the ice, away from the sideboards. Centers have more flexibility in their positioning and are expected to cover more ice surface than any other player. Centers are ideally stronger, faster skaters who can back-check quickly from deep in the opposing zone. Generally, centers are expected to be gifted passers more than goal scorers, although there are exceptions, typically larger centers who position themselves directly in front of the net in order to score off rebounds. They are also expected to have exceptional "ice vision", intelligence, and creativity. They also generally are the most defensively-oriented forwards on the ice. Centers usually play as part of a line of players that are substituted frequently to keep fresh and keep the game moving.
Centers are required to cover much of the ice in all three zones. Where the center tends to play in the offensive zone is usually a matter of coaching and personal preference. Centers are responsible for keeping the flow of the game moving, and generally handle, and pass the puck more than any other position player. Because of this, most good centers tend to score significantly more assists than goals because the play goes through them as they try to find open teammates. His or her responsibilities in the zone are analogous to the classic number 10 playmaker in soccer.
Because the range of offensive styles teams like to use, exactly how centers are used in the offensive zone is as varied as the players themselves. Generally the center's role on offense is to move the offense through himself, setting up other players, and providing support for puck battles. They roam around most areas of the ice in the zone and have a lot of freedom in decision making. They are also expected to constantly be in motion causing defenders to have a hard time tracking them.
The matter of bringing the puck in the zone generally is accomplished in two ways. The first involves the team's best puck carrier (usually the centre) using his speed and quickness to cross the blue line with the puck and set up the offence. The second is colloquially called a "dump in", in which an attacking player (almost always a defenceman or centre) shoots the puck from the neutral zone into either corner behind the opposing net in hopes that the onrushing wingers can beat the opposing defenders to it and gain control. The centre's role here is to provide support for the wingers if they become engaged in a puck battle, and give the battling winger an option to try to move the puck to, or to try to scoop up loose pucks as they become available. Once the puck is freed the offence can then set up as normal.
When a centre's winger is being attacked along the boards, the centre can take position behind the net to receive the pressured winger's pass. Behind the net is a natural place for some centres to play. It is a very difficult position to defend because it forces the opposing defensemen to leave the front of the net. It also gives the centre a clear view of the ice and most importantly the slot area. From here the centre has clear passing lanes and minimizes the distance and difficulty of passes to nearly any part of the slot.
Many centres use their mobility and freedom to take advantage of the slot area, the area in between the faceoff dots, about 5 to 15 feet from the goal. The slot area is notorious goal-scoring territory because of its proximity to the net and the difficulty the opposing team has in defending it. Many centres like this area because of its openness. Possessing the puck here gives the centre many different options, as well as a central position in the offensive play. From here he can choose to shoot the puck on net, attempt to draw defenders away from the net by skating, or find open players closer to the goal cage.
Additionally, without the puck, the centre can choose to occupy this space looking for deflections of long shots or rebounds. Aside from some larger centres who focus on scoring off rebounds, centres rarely set up directly in front of the net itself because in case of a turnover, it is much harder to get back in position defensively.
Some centres will play the halfboards. This position is especially important to a centre on some powerplay sets. Again it gives the centre a clear view of the ice surface and many different options. From here he may choose to pass back to a defenceman on the point, go down the boards to a winger behind the net, or drive the net itself hoping to draw defenders to him. The disadvantage of this position is that it is easily defended, and the centre generally does not have much time to survey the ice looking for an open teammate.
Powerplay sets are also quite varied, so the centre's role can range a lot. Many times though the centre will choose to operate in the slot area or on the halfboards. The halfboard position here is made easier to play because the centre has more time to look over the ice surface, and is not pressured by the defenders as much. Again the centre's role is to move the offence through himself/herself looking for passing lanes to open players or roving the slot area looking for deflections and rebounds.
The centre's role in the Neutral zone on the attacking side if he/she possesses the puck, is to bring the puck into the offensive zone by carrying or dumping the puck in. Although any player may carry the puck into the zone, centres are most often counted on because of their speed, quickness, and ability to stickhandle. If another player possesses the puck attacking into the zone, the centre's job is to provide support if the puck carrier needs to pass to another player across the blue line. Once the zone has been gained the offence may proceed to set up as they see fit.
On dump ins, the centre's role is to provide support to the wingers as they battle for possession in the corners, and hunt for loose pucks.
Many different strategies have been devised to defend the neutral zone. Often successfully defending the neutral zone leads to fewer opportunities for the opposing team to have offensive possessions.
Here the centre will mainly focus on skating and shadowing opposing puck carriers to try to force turnovers. They are responsible for the middle of the ice, and try to cut off long passing lanes to attacking players. If the defending team successfully does force a turnover, the centre is most often responsible for turning the direction of play around or receiving the first pass from a winger who has successfully forced a turnover.
When playing the trap, the centre typically spearheads the defence by placing himself/herself in the middle of the ice between the red line and blue line in defensive position. This forces the puck carrier to either side board where the centre and puck side winger close him in, "trapping" him/her between the two defending players and the boards. Here the attacking player has very few options, and generally must retreat to a defenceman, whereupon the defending team can reset the trap. This tactic was pioneered by the New Jersey Devils in the late 1990s and has been used extensively in the NHL and all levels of hockey since.
When employing the left wing lock strategy, the centre's role is typically to shadow the puck carrier or provide token pressure in the opposing team's zone to force them to try to pass the puck up ice into the lock. This is a much older strategy and is less commonly employed at elite levels, however it was most recently used extensively by the 2006 Carolina Hurricanes on their way to their first Stanley Cup.
Unlike their offensive responsibilities, the centre's defensive responsibilities are relatively straightforward. Again the centre must be able to use their skating ability to cover vast portions of the ice, and is responsible for the greatest percentage of ice in their own zone than of any position.
The centre's first and foremost responsibility is defending the slot area from opposing forwards. This is the most difficult area of the ice to defend because of its proximity to the net and its being situated in the middle of the ice. The centre is not only responsible for the opposing centre, but other forwards who venture into the slot as well. Like defencemen, centres are often relied upon to block long-distance shots while patrolling the slot. Because there are no boards in the slot area, it is difficult to play physically on opposing forwards so centres must be adept at using their sticks to defend via poke checks, sweep checks, stick lifts, and other stickwork.
The perimeter is an advantageous position for the defence, the boards act as an extra defender and the defending team often will try to enclose a puck carrier between the boards and two or more defenders to force turnovers. The centre's general responsibility is to provide support to other players that engage opposing puck carriers in puck battles on the boards by giving the primary defender (normally a defenceman in the defensive zone) an outlet to move the puck to if he/she is able to win the puck from the offensive player, though the centre does on occasion participate in these puck battles if they must.
When the puck is turned over by the offensive team, the defence must be able to exit the zone fluidly. In a basic fundamental break-out, the puck is controlled by the defence behind the net who then passes up the boards to a forward. The centre curls at the strong side faceoff dot and begins to break out alongside the puck carrying winger. The winger, if undefended, may skate the puck out himself/herself, in which case the centre provides a passing option in the neutral zone, or if the winger is pressured, can make the break-out pass to the centre moving up the ice. Here the centre can carry the puck out of the zone on their own, or look for the weak side winger coming across centre ice.
A quick break is sometimes used to take advantage of the opponent's sloppy transition game. In this set, the defenceman directly passes to the centre curling at the faceoff dot. The centre can then carry the puck out himself/herself or try to pass to the streaking weakside winger up the ice.
The penalty killing unit normally consists of two forwards and two defencemen. The centre's role does not differ appreciably from any other forward, though they are almost always included on the penalty killing unit for the purpose of taking the faceoff. Depending on what formation the penalty kill uses, the centre along with the other forward on the ice will play high side defence, trying to cut off passing lanes in the slot. Secondarily, they pressure offensive players on the boards if they do not have clear possession.
The centre should always be prepared for a quick break-out pass by the opposing team. The centre is expected to play the deepest in the offensive zone but also the first of the forwards to backcheck. On the backcheck, the centre should take the first opposing player not covered (usually "the third man back").
It is generally the centre's job to handle faceoffs for their team. Centres employ many different tactics to win faceoffs that take advantage their strength or swiftness.
Faceoff techniques and preferences vary widely from player to player depending on that player's skill at taking faceoffs, speed, strength, and agility. Although faceoff techniques differ greatly, it is almost universal now that the centre reverses his lower hand and takes the faceoff on his backhand in order to gain more strength when pulling the puck.
Bigger, heavier, and stronger centres may prefer to use strength tactics such as tying up the opposing centre and winning the puck with his feet or overpowering the opponent by ripping the puck away using sheer strength. Smaller, quicker centres may employ swiftness tactics such as trying to contact the puck before his opponent has a chance to get his stick in the dot, or the slide technique where he allows his opponent access to the dot easily so he can slide his stick underneath and pull the puck back out.
Faceoffs are critical to a team's success on offence or defence. To this end, centres that may be deficient in other areas, especially offensively, can still have value to a team if they are excellent faceoff takers. Journeyman NHL centre Yanic Perreault was offensively limited for much of his career, yet was able to survive in the NHL due to his excellence in the faceoff circle. Perreault is considered one of the best faceoff men in history.Faceoffs are often used as a measure of defensive effectiveness, and good faceoff takers play many minutes on the penalty kill and in late game lead situations where quickly gaining possession of the puck is of vital importance.
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Ice hockey is a contact team sport played on ice, usually in an indoor or outdoor rink, in which two teams of skaters use their sticks to shoot a vulcanized rubber puck into their opponent's net to score goals. The sport is known to be fast-paced and physical, with teams usually fielding six players at a time: one goaltender to stop the puck from going into their own net, two defensemen, and three forwards who skate the span of the ice trying to control the puck and score goals against the opposing team.
In ice hockey, icing is an infraction when a player shoots the puck over the center red line and the opposing team's red goal line, in that order, and the puck remains untouched without scoring a goal.
In ice hockey, a forward is a player position on the ice whose primary responsibility is to score and assist goals. Generally, the forwards try to stay in three different lanes of the ice going from goal to goal. It is not mandatory, however, to stay in a lane. Staying in a lane aids in forming the common offensive strategy known as a triangle. One forward obtains the puck and then the forwards pass it between themselves making the goalie move side to side. This strategy opens up the net for scoring opportunities. This strategy allows for a constant flow of the play, attempting to maintain the control of play by one team in the offensive zone. The forwards can pass to the defence players playing at the blue line, thus freeing up the play and allowing either a shot from the point or a pass back to the offence. This then begins the triangle again.
Winger, in the game of ice hockey, is a forward position of a player whose primary zone of play on the ice is along the outer playing area. They typically work by flanking the centre forward. Originally the name was given to forward players who went up and down the sides of the rink. Nowadays, there are different types of wingers in the game — out-and-out goal scorers, checkers who disrupt the opponents, and forwards who work along the boards and in the corners. Often a winger's precise role on a line depends upon what type of role the other winger plays; usually lines will have one more goal-scoring oriented winger and one winger more focused on playing the boards, checking and passing the puck to others to take shots. They tend to be bigger than centreman and smaller than defenseman.
Defence or defense in ice hockey is a player position whose primary responsibility is to prevent the opposing team from scoring. They are often referred to as defencemen, D, D-men or blueliners. They were once called cover-point.
An ice hockey rink is an ice rink that is specifically designed for ice hockey, a competitive team sport. Alternatively it is used for other sports such as broomball, ringette and rink bandy. It is a rectangle with rounded corners and surrounded by walls approximately 1.22 metres (48 in) high called the boards.
A face-off is the method used to begin and restart play after goals in some sports using sticks, primarily ice hockey, bandy and lacrosse. The two teams line up in opposition to each other, and the opposing players attempt to gain control of the puck or ball after it is dropped or otherwise placed between their sticks by an official.
Checking in ice hockey is any of a number of defensive techniques aimed at disrupting an opponent with possession of the puck or separating them from the puck entirely. Most types are not subject to penalty.
In ice hockey, a penalty shot is a type of penalty awarded when a team loses a clear scoring opportunity on a breakaway because of a foul committed by an opposing player. A player from the non-offending team is given an attempt to score a goal without opposition from any defending players except the goaltender. This is the same type of shot used in a shootout to decide games in some leagues.
The neutral zone trap is a defensive strategy used in ice hockey to prevent an opposing team from proceeding through the neutral zone and to force turnovers. The strategy is generally used to level the playing field for teams that are not as offensively talented as their opponents, although the trap can also be used by teams simply looking to protect a lead late in the game. The trap was innovated by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 1920s and 1930s but became the defensive scheme for most coaches during the late 90s and early 2000s—known as the "Dead Puck era"—as a direct result of the success seen by the New Jersey Devils under the coaching of Jacques Lemaire; the Devils won three Stanley Cup championships during this era. Lemaire used the trap that was employed by the Montreal Canadiens under his coach Scotty Bowman.
In sports, a utility player is one who can play several positions competently. Sports in which the term is often used include association football, gridiron football, baseball, rugby union, rugby league, softball, ice hockey, and water polo.
In ice hockey, a play is offside if a player on the attacking team does not control the puck and is in the offensive zone when a different attacking player causes the puck to enter the offensive zone, until either the puck or all attacking players leave the offensive zone. Simply put, the puck must not enter the attacking zone after attacking players. If a player on the attacking team is in the offensive zone before the puck, either an immediate offside occurs, or they must retreat to the neutral zone.
Roller inline hockey, or inline hockey is a variant of hockey played on a hard, smooth surface, with players using inline skates to move and hockey sticks to shoot a hard, plastic puck into their opponent's goal to score points. There are five players including the goalkeeper from each team on the rink at a time, while teams normally consist of 16 players.
The Miracle on Manchester is the nickname given to a National Hockey League (NHL) playoff game between the Los Angeles Kings and Edmonton Oilers that took place on April 10, 1982 in the league's 65th season. The game, the third in a best-of-five postseason series, was played at The Forum, the Kings' home arena at the time, which was situated on Manchester Boulevard in the Los Angeles suburb of Inglewood. The Kings completed the largest comeback in NHL playoff history, going from being down 5-0 to win the game 6-5 in overtime. Combined with upset wins in Games 1 and 5, the Kings eliminated the heavily favored Wayne Gretzky-led Oilers in a 3-2 series victory to reach the second round.
The National Hockey League rules are the rules governing the play of the National Hockey League (NHL), a professional ice hockey organization. Infractions of the rules, such as offside and icing, lead to a stoppage of play and subsequent to the offending teams. The league also determines the specifications for playing equipment used in its games.
This is a list of common terms used in ice hockey along with the definition of these terms.
The torpedo system is an ice hockey on-ice system first used by the Swedish team Djurgårdens IF. The coach of Djurgårdens IF, Hardy Nilsson, took the system with him and it was used extensively by the Swedish national hockey team in international competition. The system converts the traditional hockey layout of three forwards and two defensemen, into two torpedoes up front, two halfbacks, and one lone defenceman. The torpedoes are responsible for forechecking in the corners when the puck is in the offensive zone, and stay around the neutral zone to be sprung into a scoring position. The halfbacks are all-purpose players that run the offense from the faceoff circles in the offensive zone, and defend against the other team's torpedoes. The libero protects the rear of the ice.
The 2009 Stanley Cup Finals was the championship series of the National Hockey League's (NHL) 2008–09 season, and the culmination of the 2009 Stanley Cup playoffs. It was contested between the Eastern Conference champion Pittsburgh Penguins and the Western Conference champion Detroit Red Wings. It was Detroit's 24th appearance in the Finals and Pittsburgh's fourth appearance in the Finals. This was a rematch of the previous year's Stanley Cup Finals where Detroit had defeated Pittsburgh in six games. This time, Pittsburgh defeated Detroit in seven games to win their third Stanley Cup in franchise history. Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin would win the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Most Valuable Player of the 2009 playoffs, becoming the first Russian-born player to win the trophy. Until 2021, this was the last time the finals played entirely in the Eastern Time Zone.
In ice hockey, a pass is the movement of the puck from one player to another, usually by a motion of the stick. A pass differs from a shot, in that a pass is typically weaker than a shot and is not directed at the opponent's net with the intention of scoring a goal. The function of passing in ice hockey during gameplay strongly resembles the role of passing in other goal sports such as soccer and lacrosse. Passing is one of the most fundamental skills in hockey. An effective pass is described as being "stick to stick" or "tape to tape", referring to the tape on the blade of a hockey stick. Effective passing requires good vision, anticipation, and timing, as well as execution. A player that is an effective passer will normally record many assists, which are awarded to the second and third to last player to touch the puck before a goal. The National Hockey League record for most career assists is 1,963 by Wayne Gretzky, who is considered one of the best passers of all time. Different types of passes are employed in different situations or using different techniques:
The 2-1-2 forecheck, or pinch on a wide rim is an ice hockey forechecking strategy which uses two forwards deep in the offensive zone, with the remaining forward positioned high in the offensive zone, and the two defencemen positioned at the highest part of the zone near the blue line. This forecheck is used to apply both mental and physical pressure on the opposing team as they try to move the puck out of their defensive zone with objective of forcing a turnover. The positioning of the players removes options for moving the puck along the boards, forcing the play to the middle.
|Positions on the hockey rink|
|Forwards:||Left wing | Centre | Right wing|
|Defencemen:||Left defenceman | Right defenceman|
|Power forward | Enforcer | Grinder | Pest | Two-way forward | Stay-at-home defenceman | Rover | Captain | Head coach | Referees and linesmen|