Today’s post is going to be short because it is a very simple concept. Yet it can make a big difference on the forecheck. If an opposing defenseman has control of the puck behind his/her net, which side of the net should the forechecker force him to go? Before I give the answer, let’s consider the goals of the forechecking team, which are:
1. Prevent access to the defensive zone
2. Recover the puck to transition to offense
To accomplish these goals, the forechecking team need to work together to take away outlet passes, or at least make them as difficult as possible. With this in mind, the best way to start the forecheck is for the first forechecker (F1) to force the defenceman to come out from behind the net on his/her backhand side and for the second forechecker (F2) to take away the boards outlet pass. The easiest breakout pass is to the boards, so things get a lot more difficult for the defenseman if that option is eliminated. That means the defenseman will have to make a cross-ice backhand pass which is very difficult. So how do you force a defenseman to their backhand? The best way is to stand in front of the net, but on the side of the defenseman’s forehand. If positioned correctly, the defenseman will feel pressure from that side and skate away from it, to their backhand side. As the defenseman comes out from behind the net, the first forechecker (F1) should be able to angle him/her off, forcing a very difficult pass or the defenseman to shoot the puck away. In the figure below, the left defenseman comes out the right side (backhand side) while forechecker F1 angles them off and forechecker F2 takes away the outlet pass.