Man-Zone Hybrid Defense
Before, I talked about the Blackhawks’ defense system was a man-defense, where they stay on one player at all times. They now have a weird man-zone hybrid defense.
This is what I mean.
Watching the Blackhawks, they do not always stay on one guy anymore, but always try to cover any open ice when they need to. In a board battle, there is no open ice for a defender to jump in on and generate a chance against. Instead, there is always someone covering the slot and the other two players who are not in the board battle are also covering the rest of the zone, denying any chances that could arise.
In one instance, there was a board battle to the right of the goaltender, with three Blackhawks fighting for the puck. When this was happening, the two other Blackhawks players collapsed closer to the slot, getting in the way of any potential high-danger chances against.
Before this, the players would always be on the same guy, and the slot would be wide open. Multiple goals against were caused by opposing players finding open ice due to a missed assignment which would have been easily defended against if the zone-defense was deployed., leading to a high-danger scoring chance or a goal against. Now, they cover the ice well like a zone-defense WHILE keeping their man-system, creating a hybrid of both.
Whoever created this new defensive system deserves a lot of credit because this has worked a LOT better than their previous idea. They still allow a ton of shots against, but almost half of those shots come in the last twenty minutes of regulation (19 in two periods,17 in the third in their SO loss to Carolina). They just need to play and continue what they did in the first fifty to come out with wins in regulation instead of a 50-50 shot in OT. They currently play a 40 minute game with high-energy and relentlessness, but the extra 20 will win them games.
In all, the Blackhawks coaching staff have developed new ideas for their team to play, but these two proved to be the two best ones not counting the powerplay. That one deserves a full article.
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