breakout3wrongplay

The Worst Play in Hockey

Now, I know what you’re thinking, but the worst play in hockey isn’t simply letting Brett Lebda on the ice.

Everyone always talks about a few killer plays in hockey: bad turnovers, stupid penalties, or a bad pinch.  Yes, these all suck, but usually they involve a screw up or an unintentional mistake. No, the worst play in hockey is one that I see all the time as a goaltender and it almost always comes back to bite the team in the ass.

 Fly past the jump to find out.

This play is as follows:  The decision, when a forward or defenseman has a puck in the zone, usually by the boards, and decides rather than to get the puck out of the zone, to circle back into his zone to find a better play.    Here, I made some excellent paint examples to show you what I mean and my paint skills. 

First, the puck is passed from the defenseman to the winger as most normal breakouts occur. 

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Now if the center is covered, the right play here is to get the puck out of the zone, no matter what.  That’s the right play 99.9% of the time.   It gets the flow of the puck moving towards the other net, allows your team to regroup, and might even allow your center to get the puck before their D does.  

breakout2rightplay
Now the wrong play is to circle back and “restart the breakout” hoping to get a better opening.   Your entire team is going the other way and they have to stop, turn around and start returning to the zone to try again.  Plus the defense, who’ve done their job, have to be swearing at you under their breath and are confused at what the hell you are doing.  This allows the defense to continue forchecking and can reverse a lot faster than your team.  

This almost always causes a turnover and often a goal.  During the Great Goal Famine of 2011, a few Wings were often guilty of this.  Specifically three players:  Datsyuk (surprisingly), Ericssion (unsurprisingly), and the worst offender, Todd Bertuzzi.  When he’s not on his game, poor decisions almost always follow.  But when he’s playing well, “up and out” is his motto.

Now that the ship has been patched and the players are confident again, I haven’t seen much of this.  But pay attention to games.  If you notice this happening, bad things almost always follow. 

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