Hockey Sense, Hockey IQ, a “brain” whatever you want to call it… being able to read the game is that elusive trait that we all try to study and teach our players.
This is the fundamental of all great hockey players.
In this article, I’m going to go into some of the basic details about hockey meaning, and in the video below you’ll see one of the best of Artemi Panarin and why he’s so smart on the ice.
Fundamental 1: Create time and space
All great hockey players have the unique ability to do two things:
1. Create time and space for themselves
2. Create time and space for their teammates
Starting with creating time and space for themselves, great players are able to manipulate defensemen with the puck. By using deception with the upper body / eyes, manipulating a defender’s feet by changing gears or direction, and using excellent puck protection skills, players can save more time and space with the washer.
By showing balance, they often bring other defenders towards them which creates an open teammate and time / space for them as well. Check out Panarin’s first clip and how he does all of those details to help define the Ranger’s first objective.
Core 2: Excellent puck support
Great players also have the unique ability to get into places to support the puck. Often times when their teammates are cornered by a defender, they find themselves in places for support exits. Not only can they read typical game patterns, they can also read small areas and get exposed around the ice to keep playing.
In the video, Panarin does this masterfully in the last two clips where he finds lanes first just after the entrance and the Devils huddle up against Strome, then on the 2v1 where he stops to find the lane then absolutely buries .
Fundamental 3: Use the middle of the ice cream
The best players, quite simply, are great at creating options. They put themselves in situations on the ice to create different options and not get stuck. One of the biggest ways to do this is to use the middle of the ice.
In the video, you will see Panarin at second base bringing the puck to the middle of the ice during the race. This allows him to create two options by going left or right, rather than skating in a straight line along the wall (which so many players do!) And limiting the options to one way.
The ultimate compliment a coach could give a player is that they improve their teammates.
A player with a hockey sense does it with spades because he knows how to create options and create time and space. These things definitely improve teammates as they create opportunities for your team to keep puck possession. And when your team has the puck … well, that’s a huge indicator of success.
Hope you enjoyed this one!