Here are a few tips to think about next time you have a 2 on 1 in a practice or a game.
The tips will help A) the player with the puck and B) the player without the puck
PLAYER WITH THE PUCK
The first thing the player with the puck needs to identify is the amount of time and space she/he has coming up the ice. If she/he feels a back-checker (back pressure) coming hard behind him /her this may alter the 2 on 1 and shooting the puck may be your only option. In this case, you want to make sure your shot is coming from a higher probability scoring area (like the hash marks). The biggest thing I see from young players when they have a back-checker forcing the play is the player with the puck skating himself/herself into a bad spot or even worse skating into the corner leaving himself no option. You want to shoot from a good area and make sure the puck hits the net for your teammate to have a chance at the rebound.
If you have time and have noticed a gap between you and the backcheckers this is the time to really try and take advantage of the situation and try to capitalize. What I really look for if I have the puck is identifying which hand (or side) my teammate is situated on. If I’m on my “off wing” side (this means if you are a right-handed shot, but are coming down the left side, or vice versa) I may think about moving the puck early and allowing my teammate to use me for a “one timer”. **An early pass is a great way to get the defensemen and goalie moving which can really open up gaps and passing lanes. Also if I notice my teammate is more of a goal scorer I may hold on to the puck and try and set him/her up for the shot.
Here are a few things to look for when you have moved the puck over the blue line. The first thing you want to look at is where your teammate is. If your teammate is on his or her “one time” or “off wing” side (again, a right-handed shot playing the left side, or a left-handed shot playing on the right side) she/he must likely will play a little higher allowing the pass to get to him/her for a quick shot. The best way to make this happen is to look at the goalie and make them think you are shooting. At this point you are trying to sell that you are shooting, making the defenseman and the goalie both commit to you. Most times the defenseman will start to turn moving their stick from the passing lane, allowing you to throw a pass to your teammate. Not only will your teammate have an open lane, but the goalie should be out of position.
Sometimes the defenseman will not move and if you are still thinking pass you have to either pass through the defenseman or over them (saucer pass). When passing through the defenseman you want to aim to go between the ’triangle’, which means between their skates and their stick. Its an extremely tough pass for a defensemen to stop and it’s great to use when the defenseman has their stick way out in front of themselves. The Saucer pass (raising the puck) is perfect to use when the defenseman slides and you have to get the puck over their stick. This is a more skilled moved but very efficient if you can use it.
If your teammate drives to the back post, which often happens when the player without the puck is on their forehand, you have a few options. The first one is to try and pass behind the defensemen so that your teammate can skate into the puck for a shot/deke. Also driving the puck deeper on the goalie will make him/her think you are going to shoot, but you have the option to make a pass “back door”. This option works best when you make the goalie and defenseman both think you are going to make a move and shoot yourself. The last option when your teammate drives the far post is shooting for a rebound. When doing this you want to shoot for the far pad and hope the rebound comes off his/her pad and lets your teammate make a play on the rebound.
Another option (and certainly not the last option) is shooting or dekeing on the two on one. Either is always a good option, but there a few things you should keep in mind. The first is getting into the best spot possible for the shot. Trying to move more to the middle is ideal, however this leaves you vulnerable to being poke-checked by the defenseman. The next thing you might want to do is the same as the above but instead of making the goalie think you are going to shoot you want to make him/her think you are passing. Often times you can catch the goalie cheating or anticipating the pass which leaves the short side open for a quick shot. By looking at your teammate, but keeping in mind and knowing where the net is, you can let a shot go that can really fool the goalie. Lastly, some defensemen will overplay the pass which can allow you to walk right in and have basically a short breakaway. Most goalies will try and guard against the pass so a quick fake “far side” can leave the net open on the short side.
PLAYER WITHOUT THE PUCK
The most important thing about being the player without the puck is making yourself available and in a good spot to receive a pass or get a rebound.
When coming over the blue line and you are on your “one timer” side this is your chance to hang back a little and try to find a passing lane. Remember the defenseman has to keep up with the player with the puck, so if you slow down a bit the lane will open up for you. If you and the player with the puck are side-by-side, try and move your stick behind you and give your teammate an option to pass to you. This means you have to be able to handle a pass a little behind you. It might mean you won’t be able to shoot a one timer, but you will still generate a good chance. The biggest key when the pass comes is getting a quick and accurate shot on net. It doesn’t have to hard because the goalie has to slide over. The key is to be quick and on the net.
If you come over the blue line on your forehand your best move might be driving back door for a pass or looking for a rebound. It’s much tougher for a pass to come in front of the defenseman because the player must either pass through the defenseman’s stick or over it. By skating hard to the back post you force the defenseman to come with you. That may open up a shot but if she/he doesn’t come with you it allows for an easy pass back door for a great opportunity.
IMPORTANT POINTS TO REMEMBER
Always be aware of the time and space you have (there is nothing worse then being caught from behind because you weren’t paying attention to the back checker.)
Be aware of who you are with and whether or not they are left-handed or right-handed.
Have your head up and try to fake out the goalie and defensemen. Try and make them think you are doing the opposite of what you are about to do (only you know what you are going to do).
An early pass is a great way to get the defenseman and the goalie moving, which can open up lanes.
Never skate yourself into a bad spot like the corner or into the defenseman’s stick. Keep your options open on the ice.
Shooting is a great option, but make sure you hit the net and you keep the goalie and the defenseman guessing. If you only look “shot” the whole time you will have a harder time scoring.
Attack with speed with and without the puck. A quick, accurate release is better then a big wind up.
Have confidence. Most importantly, have confidence when getting a two on one. Scoring chances don’t happen very often so when they do you have to be confident that you are going to make great hockey plays that will result in goals.