Defeat the Blackhawks Neutral Zone Attack on Aggressive and Passive Structures


CALGARY, Alberta — The Blackhawks have experienced more offensive success through the neutral zone this season against teams with higher pressure structures than teams with more passive structures.

It makes sense. The Hawks lack talent and chemistry, which makes them struggle to connect enough passes to break well-organized traps. But the Hawks are hiring some forwards with speed, so if they have the space to skate, they can win races and get the puck over the blue line.

The contrast has recently become more vivid. Last week, the Hawks produced one of his best performances this year against the Flyers’ aggressive 2-1-2 neutral zone defense.

But against the Kings’ tricky 1-3-1 formation on Sunday and the Canucks’ conservative 1-1-3 formation on Tuesday, the Hawks were completely shut down.

“Do your best in neutral [zone] It’s time to go back and not set it up,” said Patrick Kane. “If you have forwards who are demanding the puck and speeding and they are onside, your best option is to take advantage of it. [our opponent is] Not set up or ready. ”

Against the Flyers, Hawks coach Luke Richardson’s game plan worked perfectly. The plan involved “posting” his one forward in a stationary position in the middle of the neutral zone, while his other two forwards swing to the outside to gain speed.

The Hawks were able to get into the zone cleanly with breakouts and regroups, especially in the second period that night when the defense passed to a post-up man.

It worked for all lines too. At one point the sequence went from Jake McCabe to Jason Dickinson to Andreas Attanasio.

“[It] It brought us a lot of attacks,” Richardson said.

However, against the Kings and Canucks, the Hawks committed turnovers on a fair number of carry-in attempts, forcing them to discard the pack more often.

Considering the Hawks, according to all three zones, the NHL’s worst team to get dumped in has rarely proved fruitful.

“We just had a lot of problems [against L.A.]and it was [due to a] Lack of energy and skating,” said Richardson. “[In Vancouver]it was a lack of execution, whether clean out of our zone or handle the puck in the neutral zone.

“When things aren’t going 100% perfect, it has to be simpler. One touch out of the zone, one touch in the neutral zone to play. [it] Behind other teams. Tonight we wanted to splice the tapes together, but the tapes didn’t work. “

There were some bright spots against the Canucks. Sam Lafferty’s soft goal followed a justifiably superior zone entry. Seth Jones’ ‘D’ to ‘D’ pass to McCabe caught the Canucks in favor of the right flank and Lafferty was able to bring it in easily on the left.

A few minutes later, Jack Johnson chased the cleared puck and made an earlier-than-expected pass to Kane just outside the blue line. I tried to align.

“flat [against] A team to trap if we could play a little faster [while] They’re trying to change someone or set up a system. [that can help]’ said Richardson.

Kane said creating an isolated 2-1 advantage against an outside defender with a 1-3-1 trap is also an effective way to break it.

But he believes the Hawks are having trouble attacking a bunkered neutral-zone defense that dates back to the 2017 playoff series against the Predators. Is not …

the numbers behind the story

Overall this season, the Hawks managed to carry the puck across the attacking blue line on just 43.4% of their attempts to enter the offensive zone, according to All Three Zones. This is his second lowest rate in the league.

If it’s intentional, it’s not inherently bad. For example, the Hurricanes have the lowest carry-in percentage in the league with him at 42.1%, but lead the league by a mile in both forecast pressure and recovered dump-ins. But it’s not optimal for the Hawks, who have the worst recovery rate in the league.

The Hawks’ four forwards are above league averages in all three zones: Sam Lafferty (51.2%), Kane (56.8%), Attanasiu (65.8%) and Max Domi (70.0%). Athanasiou and Domi are actually in the top quartile of the league at that point.

At the other end of the spectrum, Reece Johnson carries the puck on just 23.1% of his attempts — which puts him in the bottom 20 overall in the league — and Taylor Radish isn’t quite as high at 26.9%. But Johnson and Radish are unsurprisingly leading the team in recovering dump-ins, and the now-injured Jujar Khayla is the only other Hawk above the league average in that regard.

Lafferty has been particularly effective in the neutral zone lately. In the Hawks’ win over the Blues (between the Flyers and the Kings matchup), he almost single-handedly managed the zone entry, especially early on. That ability makes him an attractive trade deadline target for competitors.


What do you think?

Written by Natalia Chi

Chicago Popular; Chicago breaking news, weather and live video. Covering local politics, health, traffic and sports for Chicago, the suburbs and northwest Indiana.

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