This is the first in a series of posts I will be doing on different plays and systems in hockey. Everything we strive to identify and measure with statistics, which is usually my focus, is based on what the players are doing on the ice, yet much of what happens there is shrouded in mystery for many hockey fans. Some of the most experienced and insightful hockey analysts I know are still learning about the game all of the time. Hopefully, this series will help you and I learn a little more about the X’s and O’s (or F’s and D’s) of hockey and give us a better understanding and appreciation of the game. Just like different coaches and teams have different approaches to playing the game, my approach here may be a little different than what you learned or know. That’s okay. Discussion about the different ways to handle these situations will lead to more learning for everyone, me included.
The first thing I want to tackle is something that is usually pretty exciting during the game, a 3 on 2. For this article, we’ll focus mainly on the attacking players. The 3 on 2 happens when three players are attacking the offensive zone against 2 defending players. The attacking players should try to build up speed or continue with speed so that other players cannot catch up to the play and defend against them. Obviously, having an extra body on your side is an advantage so unless there is no other feasible option, slowing the play down is not what the attacking players want to do. There are several set plays that teams use in 3 on 2 situations, but of course, upon reading the coverage by the defensemen and pressure from the backcheckers, many times the attacking players need to improvise. So long as the play keeps moving forward to take advantage of the odd man rush situation, most of these improvisations work pretty well.