I constantly work with my players on two key areas of their game. They are so critical and can truly be the difference between winning and losing. Last night, we saw it in Gm7 of the Hawks-Wings series. Earlier in the game, I made the comment that when you watch the Red Wings play, it always seems like there are 6 skaters on the rink. They are fast, they are aggressive and they are on loose pucks ALL the time.
One little breakdown in that mentality and it can send you packing. Watch the first 15 seconds of this video and then I'll explain.
There are two glaring failures on this play (forget about the fact if you think the hit was a penalty or not).
- Soft Defense
- Soft Backcheck
Secondly and worst of all in my opinion (especially for OT during game 7) is the lackluster backcheck. You can't skate and watch a player carrier the puck into your zone. #11 almost catches him and even 'taps' him with a stick. An extra push or two with the skates and he catches him and pops his stick. I don't care what level you are playing at, lazy backchecking should get you a 'talking' to from your coach.
As a coach, these are two areas that we work on constantly. Closing the gap and backchecking. They are huge factors in the outcome of the game.