Hockey Sense, Hockey IQ, a “Brain,” whatever you want to call it… being able to read the game is that elusive trait that we’re all trying to study and teach our players.
It’s the fundamental of all great hockey players.
In this post, I’m going to detail a few of the basic details on hockey sense, and in the video below, you’ll see one of the best in Artemi Panarin and why he’s so smart on the ice.
Fundamental 1: Creating 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 defenders with the puck. By using deception with their upper body/eyes, manipulating a defender’s feet by changing speed or direction, and by using great puck protection skills, players can gain extra time and space with the puck.
By showing poise, they often bring other defenders to them which creates an open teammate and time/space for them as well. Check out the first clip of Panarin and how he does all of these details in helping to set up the Ranger’s first goal.
Fundamental 2: Great Puck Support
Great players also have the unique ability to get themselves in spots to support the puck. Often when their teammates are cornered by a defender, they find themselves in spots for releases in support. They can not only read the typical patterns of the game, but they can read small areas and get themselves in open spots around the ice to continue plays.
In the video, Panarin does this masterfully in the last two clips where he finds lanes first right after the entry and the Devils are clamping down on Strome, and then on the 2v1 where he stops to find the lane and then absolutely buries.
Fundamental 3: Using the Middle of the Ice
The best players, simply, are great at creating options. They put themselves in situations on the ice to create different options and not corner themselves off. One of the biggest ways they do this is using the middle of the ice.
In the video, you’ll see Panarin on the second goal bring the puck to the middle of the ice on the rush. This allows him to create two options by going either left or right, rather than skating in a straight line down the wall (which so many players do!) and limiting the options to just going one way.
The ultimate compliment a coach could give a player is that they make their teammates better.
A player with hockey sense does this with spades as they are masterful at creating options and creating time and space. Those things most certainly make teammates better because they generate opportunities for your team to keep possession of the puck. And when your team has the puck…well, that’s a huge indicator of success.
I hope you enjoyed this one!