Defence (defense in the United States) 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 (the latter a reference to the blue line in ice hockey which represents the boundary of the offensive zone; defencemen generally position themselves along the line to keep the puck in the zone). They were once called cover-point. A good defenceman is both strong in defensive and offensive play and for defenceman pairing also need to be good at defending and attacking.
In regular play, two defencemen complement three forwards and a goaltender on the ice. Exceptions include overtime during the regular season and when a team is shorthanded (i.e. has been assessed a penalty), in which two defencemen are typically joined by only two forwards and a goaltender; in National Hockey League play in overtime effective with the 2015-16 season the teams have only three position players and a goaltender on the ice and may use either two forwards and one defenceman (typically), or conversely, two defencemen and one forward.
Organized play of ice hockey originates from the first indoor game in Montreal in 1875. In subsequent years, the players per side were reduced to seven per side. Positions were standardized, and two correspond to the two defencemen of current six-man rules. These were designated as cover point and point, although they lined up behind the center and the rover, unlike today. Decades later, defencemen were standardized into playing left and right sides of the ice.
According to one of the earliest books on ice hockey, Farrell's Hockey: Canada's Royal Winter Game (1899), Mike Grant of the Montreal Victorias, describes the point as "essentially defensive. He should not stray too far from his place, because oftentimes he is practically a second goal-minder ... although he should remain close to his goal-keeper, he should never obstruct that man's view of the puck. He should, as a rule, avoid rushing up the ice, but if he has a good opening for such a play he should give the puck to one of the forwards on the first opportunity and then hasten back to his position, which has been occupied, in the interim, by the cover-point."
Hugh Baird, then captain and cover-point of the Montreal Hockey Club, describes the cover-point as "a combination of a defence man and a forward, and is allowed, in virtue of this fact, more latitude with respect to leaving his position, than any man on the team, except the rover. In his capacity of a defence player, he should linger around his goals as long as the puck is near... When the play is at the other end of the rink, the cover-point should advance to about the middle, so that when the puck is lifted down, he may return it without loss of time, in order to keep the game centered around his opponents' goals, and to save his forwards the trouble of skating up to him so that they may again 'get in to play.' It is by playing far up under these circumstances that a clever cover-point can chine to the advantage of his team. If he has a good opening he should shoot well for the goals, but if he has not, he should, as I have said, return the puck instantaneously."
Each year the NHL, the premier ice hockey league in the world, presents the James Norris Memorial Trophy to the best defenceman in the league. Bobby Orr of the Boston Bruins – an eight-time Norris Trophy recipient– is often considered to be the greatest defenceman in NHL and ice hockey history. In addition to his Norris Trophy honours, he is the only defenceman in NHL history to capture the Art Ross Trophy as the league's leading scorer. In 1998, Orr was selected as the best defenceman of all-time (second overall player behind Wayne Gretzky) in The Hockey News' Top 100 NHL Players of all-time.
Conversely, according to the IIHF Centennial All-Star Team (also chosen by The Hockey News), the greatest defencemen to play in IIHF-sanctioned international competition are Vyacheslav Fetisov and Börje Salming.
Defence players are often described by the amount they participate in the offence. The extreme of non-participation in offence is a Stay-at-home defender, who takes few risks and does not score much, instead focusing on defending against the opposing team. A good example is Rod Langway, who won the Norris Trophy while scoring only three goals that season, as the award winners preceding him were primarily offensive defencemen such as Bobby Orr, Denis Potvin, and Larry Robinson.
The extreme of participation is an offensive defenceman, who gets aggressively involved in the team's offence. To accomplish this, the offensive defence player often pitches in to keep the play from going offside and moves towards the halfboards and high-slot area for scoring opportunities. This makes it difficult for the opposing team to protect their net from being scored upon if the team can maintain control of the puck. However, this can lead to more odd man rushes and breakaway opportunities for the opposing team if the defender does not succeed. Bobby Orr's end-to-end rushing allowed him to defend effectively as well as attack. By contrast, Paul Coffey enjoyed high offensive production but his defensive play was considered mediocre for most of his career.
When in the defensive zone, the defence player is responsible for keeping the opposing forwards' opportunities to a minimum when they are on a rush, forcing them to the corners and blocking both passing and shooting lanes. When the opposing offence is putting pressure on the defence's team, the defence skater usually plays closer to the net, attempting again to block shooting lanes but also ensure that the goalie is not screened (prevented from being able to see the puck at all times). It is especially critical for the defenceman to keep opposing forwards from being able to move effectively in front of the net. If a shot on net is made, an unguarded forward can often redirect it too quickly for the goalie to adjust or else score on a rebound. Another important duty is clearing rebounds away from the goal, and preferably to the defenceman's teammates, before opposing forwards can get to them.
In the neutral zone, the defence hangs back towards his or her own blue line, usually playing the puck up to other teammates. According to Jay Leach, who writes for NHL.com's "learn to play hockey" section, the defence must "Move the puck hard and quick to the open man. Join the rush, [but] do not lead it." Because of this responsibility, defencemen must read the other team's defensive strategy effectively in order to make an effective first pass that furthers the offensive momentum without leaving the defenceman out of position should his team lose control of the puck. In certain situations the best option could be to skate the puck into the zone to maintain offensive speed as well as preventing an offside.
In the offensive zone, the defence skaters usually "play the blue line." It is their duty to keep the puck in the offensive zone by stopping it from crossing the blue line that demarcates where the offensive zone begins. Should the puck cross this line, the offence cannot touch the puck in their opponent's zone without stopping play (see offside). Defencemen must be quick to pass the puck around, helping their forwards to open up shooting lanes, or taking open shots themselves when they become available. The defence must also be able to skate quickly to cut off any breakaways, moving themselves back into the defensive zone ahead of the onrushing opponent.
Essentially in all three zones of the rink, the defence is the backstop for the puck. It should never go behind the defence, unless the player lets it. The defence keeps the momentum of play squarely directed towards the opposing goal, or at least away from his own.
Because defencemen are often expected to shoot on the opposing net from long range, these players often develop the hardest and most accurate slapshots. This is because taking a more stationary position on the blue line rewards pure accuracy and patience, rather than the adept hand–eye coordination attributed to forwards. Al MacInnis, who was seven times decorated with "Hardest Shot" in NHL skills competitions, was able to score frequently from the blue line because his slapshot was simply too fast to block effectively.
When a team is on a power play, a defence player can set up plays in the offensive zone, and distribute the puck to the teammate that he or she feels is in the best position to score, similar to a point guard in basketball, a playmaker in soccer, and a quarterback in American football and Canadian football. For this reason, a defenceman will often be described as the power play "quarterback". This is also referred to as "playing the point" (this term derives not from the basketball position, but from an older name for the defence position in hockey itself).
During faceoffs in the defensive zone, most teams have their defence players pair up with opposing forwards to tie them up while leaving the team's forwards open to move the puck, though this is at the discretion of the individual coach. In the offensive zone, the defence player acts in his or her usual role, keeping control of the puck as the forwards fight for position.
In the first organized ice hockey, (see Amateur Hockey Association of Canada), defencemen used to line up in an "I" formation behind the rover (defunct) as point and coverpoint. Defence is still referred to as "playing the point", though this term now refers mostly to the role of defencemen on the power-play.
Defencemen must possess excellent skating abilities, specifically in speed, constant foot movement and quick transitioning from forward to backward and vice versa. With regard to skating backwards, defencemen must acquire a higher skill level than offensive players. This allows them to face their offensive opponents as they rush down the ice toward the defensive zone. A defenceman must be as comfortable going backwards and sideways as forwards. Defencemen must also gain confidence in quickly carrying the puck to open up the attack during a defensive zone break-out. This requires the ability to burst out of the defensive zone with speed, yet at the same time having the ability to use their vision to execute quick passes to open forwards, or gaining the neutral zone before shooting the puck into the offensive zone.
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Ice hockey is a contact team sport played on ice, usually in a 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, and five players who skate the span of the ice trying to control the puck and score goals against the opposing team.
Robert Gordon Orr, is a Canadian former professional ice hockey player, widely acknowledged as one of the greatest of all time. Orr used his ice skating speed, scoring, and play-making abilities to revolutionize the position of defenceman. He played in the National Hockey League (NHL) for 12 seasons, starting with 10 with the Boston Bruins followed by two with the Chicago Black Hawks. Orr remains the only defenceman to have won the league scoring title with two Art Ross Trophies. He holds the record for most points and assists in a single season by a defenceman. Orr won a record eight consecutive Norris Trophies as the NHL's best defenceman and three consecutive Hart Trophies as the league's most valuable player (MVP). Orr was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1979 at age 31, the youngest to be inducted at that time. In 2017 Orr was named by the National Hockey League as one of the "100 Greatest NHL Players" in history. After his hockey career, he became a well-known scout for many professional teams. He also spends time talking to and mentoring young skaters.
Scott Stevens is a Canadian professional ice hockey coach and former player. As a defenseman, Stevens played 22 seasons in the National Hockey League (NHL) for the Washington Capitals, St. Louis Blues and New Jersey Devils, serving as captain of the Devils from 1992 to 2004. Although offensively capable, his defensive play and his heavy body checking on opponents were crucial to his success.
In ice hockey, a goal is scored when the puck entirely crosses the goal line between the two goal posts and below the goal crossbar. A goal awards one point to the team attacking the goal scored upon, regardless of which team the player who actually deflected the puck into the goal belongs to. Typically, a player on the team attempting to score shoots the puck with their stick towards the goal net opening, and a player on the opposing team called a goaltender tries to block the shot to prevent a goal from being scored against their team.
The centre 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. Centres have more flexibility in their positioning and are expected to cover more ice surface than any other player. Centres are ideally stronger, faster skaters who can back-check quickly from deep in the opposing zone. Generally, centres are expected to be gifted passers more than goal scorers, although there are exceptions. They are also expected to have exceptional "ice vision", intelligence, and creativity. They also generally are the most defensively oriented forwards on the ice. Centres usually play as part of a line of players that are substituted frequently to keep fresh and keep the game moving.
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, also known as thirds, 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. They tend to be bigger than centreman and smaller than defenseman.
In ice hockey, the goaltender or goalie is the player responsible for preventing the hockey puck from entering their team's net, thus preventing the opposing team from scoring. The goaltender usually plays in or near the area in front of the net called the goal crease. Goaltenders tend to stay at or beyond the top of the crease to cut down on the angle of shots. In today's age of goaltending there are two common styles, butterfly and hybrid. Because of the power of shots, the goaltender wears special equipment designed to protect the body from direct impact. The goalie is one of the most valuable players on the ice, as their performance can greatly change the outcome or score of the game. One-on-one situations, such as breakaways and shootouts, have the tendency to highlight a goaltender's pure skill, or lack thereof. No more than one goaltender is allowed to be on the ice for each team at any given time. Teams are not required to use a goaltender and may instead opt to play with an additional skater, but the defensive disadvantage this poses generally means that the strategy is only used as a desperation maneuver when trailing late in a game or can be used if the opposing team has a delayed penalty.
The neutral zone trap is a defensive strategy used in ice hockey to prevent an opposing team from proceeding through the neutral zone 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, who perfected the trap defense to 3 Stanley cups in 1995, 2000, and 2003 for the New Jersey Devils. Lemaire utilized the trap that was employed by the Montreal Canadiens under his coach Scotty Bowman.
Denis Charles Potvin is a Canadian former professional ice hockey defenceman and team captain for the New York Islanders of the National Hockey League (NHL). He is a four-time Stanley Cup winner as a member of the early 1980s New York Islanders. He is also a three-time James Norris Memorial Trophy winner as the NHL's top defenceman. He was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1991 and served as a commentator for Ottawa Senators' television broadcasts on Sportsnet. He is the former color commentator for the Florida Panthers. Potvin was born in Vanier, Ontario. In 2017, he was named one of the "100 Greatest NHL Players" in history.
The point is a term in ice hockey to indicate a position inside the opposition's blue line along the edges of the rink.
In ice hockey, a play is offside if a player on the other team does not control the puck and is in the offensive zone when a different attacking player causes the puck to completely cross the blue line into the offensive zone, until either the puck or all attacking players leave the offensive zone. Simply put, attacking players must not enter the attacking zone before the puck. If a player on the attacking team is in the offensive zone before the puck, they must retreat to the neutral zone.
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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 NHL All-Star Game SuperSkills Competition, originally known as the National Hockey League All-Star Skills Competition, is an event on the night preceding the All-Star Game. Started at the 41st National Hockey League All-Star Game in Pittsburgh in 1990, the NHL uses the event to showcase the talents of its all-star participants. Events include accuracy shooting, fastest skater, Skills Challenge Relay, hardest shot, Breakaway Challenge, and an Elimination Shootout. The All-Star teams select representatives for each event, with points awarded to the winning team.
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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.
Christopher Tanev is a Canadian professional ice hockey defenceman and alternate captain for the Vancouver Canucks of the National Hockey League (NHL). Unselected in the NHL Entry Draft, he was signed by the Canucks as a free agent after his freshman year with the Rochester Institute of Technology Tigers. In his only college season, he was named Atlantic Hockey's Rookie of the Year, in addition to receiving All-Tournament and Third All-Star Team honours, while helping the Tigers to a conference championship. Prior to college, he played three seasons in the Ontario Provincial Junior Hockey League.
|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|