It’s an exciting time of year in the NHL. Teams are into their stretch drive with around 25-27 games remaining. The standings are tight, matchups are key and the excitement of the playoffs is building momentum week after week.
Everything about this time of year is exciting, for the fans, the players, the game itself. We start to really see great hockey. Players buckling down, upping they’re compete level, there is just so much at stake. It’s the time of year when stuffs on the line which gives big players the moment to shine. But how do they do it when everything’s a dog fight and goals seem harder and harder to come by?
One of the answers that is employed by the world’s best players is finding the second wave attack. Coaches all over the world use a bunch of different verbage that I am sure you recognize like: "Pull up and find the late guys", "belly up and find the strong side" or "curl up and find that seam". Whatever the language used to describe the movement pattern to "turn up the ice" (there’s another one), the concept is about creating a counter flow off a rush attack.
Typically, most teams love to drive the middle of the ice off the rush. They could be sending 1 player to the inside shoulder of the defensemen if they are 3 up on the rush. They could be sending 2 guys through the middle seams if they are 4 up on the rush. They can cross and keep, cross and drop all while sending a player through the middle. There are all sorts of different rush options. The key concept here is that any type of middle lane drive creates deep speed and if done right forces the defensemen accepting the rush to manage that speed which creates offensive space for you guessed it that second wave attack.
So, how do you create that second wave attack? From a concept perspective, the best players in the world tell us all the time that they are trying to establish some sort of middle ice position. When speaking specifically about rush attempts and creating a second wave, we challenge players to work on movement patterns that are going to plan their attack with the dot lines. What are the dot lines? Just imagine an imaginary line that goes from goal line to goal line and follows the end zones and neutral zone face-off dots. That’s the dot line and when attacking, it makes a ton of sense to take a quick step, push or cut into the middle of the ice to coordinate your attack. Why is that so important? It gives you options.
Most controlled rush attempts that aren’t attacked off the dot line end up with a player just getting squeezed into the boards, there’s solutions to deal with that too, because it happens in games but when it comes to controlling the puck across the blue line on a rush scoring attempt, try to establish dot line presence as much as you can. This small concept drives productivity. The next concept is a deep drive. It’s important that once you’ve made your move to the outside that you look to drive the defensemen as deep as possible, somewhere around the hashmarks is ideal, this opens up a nice pocket of open space between the middle lane drivers that are pushing those D back and your other buddies barreling down the ice to create that second wave. All you have to do now is turn up, curl up, belly up or pull up and deliver that perfect pass and BANG, red light baby! Sound of the horn ROARS!
A couple of other little tips, more on the technical side. The Dot Line move to the outside is key. Most guys like to set that up off Forward Crossovers to the inside then a quick Inside Edge Cut to Forward Crossovers to drive the D back. Start working on that rush pattern and you’ll start looking like McDavid. It's a staple pattern for him. What about the curl up? How to I coordinate that? The best guys use Rudder to Forward Crossovers while others will use a Kessel Stop Fade, or even a Hips First Pivot to Backward Crossovers. Gotta rep all of those and adding all of the different skill complexities of protecting the puck, usage of quick hands and fakes to keep the defender guessing. You also need to throw in some triangle and sauce passing while moving your feet both on your inside and outside edge to execute that second wave pass. Don’t forget the timing of that curl up too, the best guys toy with the defender and wait just as that defender begins to feel somewhat beat and he begins to pivot… Ah, gotcha, tons of space to work, Rudder to Forward Crossovers to Find. Red Light Baby!
So, if you’re looking to add cool offensive zone patterning in your game to drive productivity down the stretch, find that second wave. Mix up your attack sequences. Use all of your teammates. Get to that dot line, rep those movement patterns and skill and execute that perfect triangle pass, just maybe your buddy’s been working on his game too and he bombs and strong side 1T top shelf. Red Light Baby! It doesn’t get any better than that!!