The 2F3D Project: OZ Activation
What Tampa does well & what Vegas can do better
The 2F3D Project:
Part 1) Inverting the (Hockey) Pyramid
Part 2) Breakout & Transition
Part 3) OZ activation
Part 4) The 2F3D system package (series finale)
Play 1: Wide Activation
In Game 1 of the TBL-NYI series, Tampa’s Ryan McDonagh scored the eventual game-winner on a neat offensive-zone sequence:
It is effectively a 2F3D play, with wingback Mikhail Sergachev (TBL98) pinching down on the right half-wall to win a puck to fullback Nikita Kucherov (TBL86), who dishes to McDonagh (TBL27) on the opposite wing.
The 1-3-1 or 2-3 shape is reminiscent of TBL’s formation at 5v4. NYI’s defensive structure (5-tight, D and C low) is ill-suited to defending this play once Sergachev won the puck on the wall.
The NYI forwards have a long way to go, while neither of their Ds know quite what to make of the net-front threat presented by Ondrej Palat (TBL18) and Brayden Point (TBL21). Indeed NYI is overcommitting to the strong-side faceoff dot and leaving the weak-side flank open off a change-of-side pass.
Play 2: Middle Activation
Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Shea Theodore is establishing himself as a top transitional driver during these playoffs. However he and his team still have room for improvement in their offensive-zone play.
Vegas’ heavy OZ cycle is their hallmark - all three forwards work together down low to roll off checks and attack the middle of the ice. As a Plan B they are not shy to send the puck low-to-high, get into the goalie’s eyes and fight for tips, redirections and rebounds.
The left-handed Theodore’s role as right D allows him to one-time the puck when the play is on the opposite side of the ice. When the puck is on the right side, however, Theodore often finds himself in a tough spot as an off-handed player.
VGK27’s outstanding movement and puckhandling allow him to sidestep pressure and either race down the wall toward the corner or cut back into the middle.
But neither are strong offensive solutions in Vegas’ OZP. In the first situation he is on his backhand with no clear play to the slot. In the second he’s on the verge of being stripped of the puck and has to throw a weak wrister on net.
An alternative is for Theodore to slash down the middle of the ice when the play is low and there is a change of side behind the net toward the right corner.
VGK27 would skate through the dotted blue “funnel” (a term coined by skills consultant Adam Nicholas) while two players (one forward and one D) balance up as wingbacks.
The fullback’s unusual movement allows him to split two opposing players and arrive unimpeded in the high-danger area of the zone.
He is then in a great position to score off a catch-and-shoot or a redirection.
In case of a turnover or a broken play, Theodore’s speed and reach make him uniquely qualified to catch back up to the play, while both VGK wingbacks backcheck to prevent a potential breakaway.
Thinkers such as Ryan Stimson (in his book Tape to Space) advocate the use of four forwards and one rover to create space in the offensive zone. With a seemingly more conservative formation of two Fs and three backs, we can arrive at a largely similar outcome with good movement and timing.
Old ideas; new implementations - “Hockey Tactics 2020”:
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