Wednesday Drill of the Week: D Skill Shooting

D Skill Shooting

This drill is a modified version of one that I watch Kyle Wallack run.

The drill starts with D on opposite blue lines and Forwards in two lines in the center of the blue line. F1 and F2 exchange a puck while F1 skates towards F2 (rapid fire bumps). F1 then mohawks out to the boards. Meanwhile, D1 and D2 have been exchanging a puck while D1 walks the blue line for a shot (1). D2 then places a puck for D1 near the top of the circle. D1 surrounds it and fires a quick up pass to F1. F1 skates in for a shot on net. D1 now follows the play up ice and recieves a pass from the opposite D line as they hit the blue line, catching and shooting in stride.

The drill then alternates sides, with F2 skating towards F1 line while bumping, etc. This drill could also be done full ice just using defenseman, as the drill primarily focuses on d skills (hence the title).

D Skill Shooting works four specific skills for defensemen:

  1. Walking the blue line while passing (keep eyes up and quick release)
  2. Surrounding a puck, finding your target before you retrieve and firing a quick up pass in the neutral zone
  3. Joining the rush/activating from the offensive blue line
  4. Catching a pass in stride and quickly releasing a shot

Wednesday Drill of the Week: 2v0 Exchange Shooting

2v0 Exchange

A shooting drill with a lot of passing elements to it – gets the hands and feet moving with a lot of pace.

X’s and O’s all start at the same time. The X & O that carry a puck cross with their respective partner and make a drop pass (inside the blue line). This player then skates into the outside lane while the original puck carrier skates into the inside lane on the far side. The outside lane gives a bump pass to the player skating in the inside lane from the opposite side (the original puck carrier gets the puck back from the other end). The two X’s then go attack the far net 2v0 (the O’s do the same thing).

A little confusing, but in short: Drop pass to your partner. Fill either the outside lane (pass receiver) or the inside lane on the far side (original puck carrier). Receive/give a pass to the other twosome. Go in 2v0 with a long shot and rebound.

Wednesday Drill of the Week: Diagonal Timing

Diagonal Timing

A timing/flow drill this week. Warning: This drill will chew up ice quickly when done with older players.

Two lines start on the same side of the ice (black and red X’s). One player starts on the blue line closest to their line, while one player starts on the dot on the opposite corner of the neutral zone. The players all skate in a circle (red players skate counter clockwise, black players skate clockwise). The player at the blue line receives a pass midway through his tight circle and quickly moves the puck to the player at the far dot. The player at the far dot receives the pass and goes in to attack the net. All players follow their pass – the player in the corner who started the passing sequence moves to the blue line, the blue line player moves to the dot, the player who shot returns to his/her line.

This is a continuous drill with players constantly moving from spot to spot. Once it gets moving it self-sustains. The volume of players skating in circles will chew up the ice quickly so coaches need to be aware and limit the number of reps on each side.

Wednesday Drill of the Week: Bulldog 2v2

Bulldog 2v2

A progression from last weeks Yale 1v1, only 2v2.

The same thing is going on in both ends. The puck starts in the corner with two F’s. 2 D man the points. Puck goes from the corner to the point, then D to D for a shot. The two F’s go to the slot for a screen presence, then cycle a second puck out of the corner – again D to D for a shot. After the second shot, the two F’s get a puck from their line while the 2 D regap and take back ice. The two F’s then attack down the other end of the ice (top) while the D play a 2v2 rush coming from the other end (bottom).

Wednesday Drill of the Week: Yale 1v1

Yale 1v1

A good drill with two shooting elements (point shot w/screen and quick pop in mid slot) as well as a full ice 1v1 rush. It runs out of both ends at the same time. The play starts with a puck in the corner with the F’s. F passes to the D who walks the line and takes a shot. The F skates to the net front for a moving screen, then goes into the corner to pick up a second puck. The D who shot the puck then skates across the blue line and down the wall, executing a scissor drop pass with the F. The D then passes to the F for a quick shot in the mid slot.

After the second shot, the D then turns and quickly takes back ice to gain a gap on the attacking forward coming from the other end (green). The F who shot the puck then receives a pass from their line and attacks down the other end of the ice (blue) vs a D who is gapping. This results in a full ice 1v1.

Wednesday Drill of the Week: 3 Pass Shooting

3 Pass Shooting

A simple shooting drill with multiple opportunities for passing and receiving. Both lines go at the same time. The first player in each line takes off across the blue line. Near the far dot, they receive a pass from the opposite line and quickly return the puck back to the line they got it from. The player then takes off on a stretch and support pattern through the neutral zone, receiving a pass from the line they started from before heading over the blue line and attacking the net. The same thing is happening on the far side. Across the blue, receive/give a pass, then come back across through the neutral zone to receive a stretch pass and attack the net.

Skills worked here include: passing and receiving with your feet moving, shooting with your feet moving, quick accelerations and change of direction, communication. A great drill to get hands, feet and mouths moving, as well as get some long shots on the goaltenders.

Special Teams Analytics

I’m fascinated by the use of high level statistics in the NHL. I think it’s a great way to look at the game from a different angle and challenge previously held beliefs that are common in the game.

One example is special teams. Everyone in the hockey world looks at PP and PK% as an indicator of their success. While it is a measure of past success, it is not an accurate indicator of future success. Fear the Fin, a blog about the Sharks did a great job breaking down special teams from an statistics point of view. A fascinating look at the different factors that affect a power play (other than tactics and personnel) or penalty kill and how a team’s success or failure in those situations affects their place in the standings over the course of a season. Check out the full article here. The biggest takeaways for me are in the summary:

Summary Points

  • NHL teams spend a substantial portion of games on special teams. 5v4 time alone accounts for 10-20% of game time, and thus needs to be analyzed to further our prediction models.
  • Although we don’t have enough years of NHL RTSS (5 years and counting) data to conclude with statistical significance, it appears that Fenwick For/60, with misses and blocked shots adjusted for scorer bias, is the best predictor of power-play success (GF/60), and well correlated with winning (Pts/game).
  • The penalty-kill picture is less clear, likely the result of heavier regression to the mean. Presumably the heavier regression is because PK units spend much more time without the puck. Both Sv% (which is likely goaltender driven), and Corsi differential/60 (Corsi For – Corsi Against per 60) are predictive of future penalty kill success (GA/60), and winning (pts/game), but less powerful than the predictors of power-play success.
  • Shooting percentage on the power-play is negligible, regressing heavily to the mean, and shows at best very modest correlations with PP success and winning. Even if we attempt to attenuate Sh% (ie. control for how much it regresses to the mean), it still under-performs other more significant metrics like FF/60.
  • If we focus on which stat in theory has the strongest association with PP success (GF/60), we see that Fenwick For per 60 and Shots For per 60 are virtually indistinguishable. On the PK, however, Sv% becomes the strongest stat.

Looking a little closer at PP and PK is the Flyers blog Broad Street Hockey. In two articles, they dig into PP and PK and how you can look at future success for each of them. Their bottom line conclusion? PP success is indicated by shot rate while PK success is a little simpler, with just conversion rate. You can check out the PP article here: and the PK article here:

What drove me to read these articles? A very interesting piece on TSN’s Analytics Blog by Travis Yost going into the details of Tampa Bay’s success at even strength and their relative weakness on special teams. Tampa has a power play that is clicking around 20% of the time and a PK that is successful about 85% of the time. Pretty good, no? Well looking deeper, they actually have a shot differential of -35.7 per 60 minutes of special teams play. What the article argues is that their current success rates are unsustainable based upon their shot differential. It will be interesting to see what happens moving forward with Tampa’s special teams units. You can find that article here:

My takeaways from these articles and insights into statistics? Well it also passes the “eye test” with hockey. Want to have a successful power play? It comes from shots. Shots come from faceoff wins and puck retrievals in the offensive zone. Want to have a successful penalty kill? A good goaltender goes a long way – as does limiting the quality of shots against. Finally, you can look at analytics to see if your success on special teams is due to random events or methodical success through statistical trends.

I’ll be honest, as a history major in college I never took a stats class and I couldn’t tell you what the actual equations and statistical work means. However, I trust that you need that data to prove your points and that the greater analytics community would immediately invalidate any argument that doesn’t pass the statistical data test. I try not to get too lost in the math but instead interpret the numbers and determine what they mean and what the effect on the game might be.