Author Topic: F1: The Importance of Forechecking  (Read 714 times)

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Offline herman

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F1: The Importance of Forechecking
« on: August 30, 2021, 11:04:23 AM »
As we ramp up into the new season, it's probably a good time to pour one out for ultimate team player, Zach Hyman.

Here's an oldie, but a goodie from Bourne
https://theathletic.com/581060/2018/10/10/bourne-the-fundamentals-of-an-effective-f1-forechecker-illustrated-by-the-leafs-zack-hyman/

Quote
Here’s one of the biggest points with forechecking: it’s really exhausting – I mean, it’s an all-out sprint – and you never know when it’s going to be worth your while. If you’re beyond a stick length behind the D-man who’s racing back through the D-zone circles to get the puck, you’re creating a turnover a small percentage of the time and that usually involves the other guy messing up pretty bad. Yes, that pressure is often worthwhile because it can force the D-man to make a rushed play, so it’s still worth it to your team, but there’s certainly no guarantee you didn’t just do a meaningless windsprint and burn your legs out for the rest of the shift (of which you only get so many) for absolutely nothing. [...]

That means it takes a certain mindset, a certain type of driven athlete who’s in great condition, who’s willing to just hunt and hunt and hunt relentlessly until they create those turnovers that lead to extra possessions, which lead to goals.

Towards the end of Jack Han's time with the Marlies, he noted a trend in the team's drafting showing up on the ice: a lot of puck possessors (as was Keefe's wont), and suddenly a dearth of puck getter-backers. The big ones had graduated onto the Leafs (and off the Leafs in most cases).

These past seasons of transactions have started to shift the balance back, which I would argue is the correct order of operations. Players that can do goal-stuff with the puck are expensive on the market and it seems wise to develop them in-house, while puck getters are often offensively underrated by their stats (i.e. potential $$) when they're stuck in bottom-6 roles. I have a hard time finding the reference at the moment, but Bourne mentioned on a podcast somewhere that Dubas had asked Lou to pursue Yanni Gourde some years ago while he was toiling in the minors, but was obviously shrugged off (we already had Hyman, Brown, Komarov, Martin, etc.).

In terms of technique and evolution of the art of forechecking, the Leafs preach:
  • Stick on puck: stick gets there before you do, so target the puck
  • Take out the hands: aim the hips into the hands of the opponent trying to corral the puck; here your size is almost irrelevant as a player's body is going to always be bigger and stronger than hands. Taking out the hands means loose puck with your body between the defender and the puck.

Here's someone else's video on Zach Hyman just gaining inside position on everybody.
« Last Edit: August 30, 2021, 11:17:24 AM by herman »
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Offline OldTimeHockey

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Re: F1: The Importance of Forechecking
« Reply #1 on: August 30, 2021, 12:16:16 PM »
As we ramp up into the new season, it's probably a good time to pour one out for ultimate team player, Zach Hyman.

Here's an oldie, but a goodie from Bourne
https://theathletic.com/581060/2018/10/10/bourne-the-fundamentals-of-an-effective-f1-forechecker-illustrated-by-the-leafs-zack-hyman/

Quote
Here’s one of the biggest points with forechecking: it’s really exhausting – I mean, it’s an all-out sprint – and you never know when it’s going to be worth your while. If you’re beyond a stick length behind the D-man who’s racing back through the D-zone circles to get the puck, you’re creating a turnover a small percentage of the time and that usually involves the other guy messing up pretty bad. Yes, that pressure is often worthwhile because it can force the D-man to make a rushed play, so it’s still worth it to your team, but there’s certainly no guarantee you didn’t just do a meaningless windsprint and burn your legs out for the rest of the shift (of which you only get so many) for absolutely nothing. [...]

That means it takes a certain mindset, a certain type of driven athlete who’s in great condition, who’s willing to just hunt and hunt and hunt relentlessly until they create those turnovers that lead to extra possessions, which lead to goals.

Towards the end of Jack Han's time with the Marlies, he noted a trend in the team's drafting showing up on the ice: a lot of puck possessors (as was Keefe's wont), and suddenly a dearth of puck getter-backers. The big ones had graduated onto the Leafs (and off the Leafs in most cases).

These past seasons of transactions have started to shift the balance back, which I would argue is the correct order of operations. Players that can do goal-stuff with the puck are expensive on the market and it seems wise to develop them in-house, while puck getters are often offensively underrated by their stats (i.e. potential $$) when they're stuck in bottom-6 roles. I have a hard time finding the reference at the moment, but Bourne mentioned on a podcast somewhere that Dubas had asked Lou to pursue Yanni Gourde some years ago while he was toiling in the minors, but was obviously shrugged off (we already had Hyman, Brown, Komarov, Martin, etc.).

In terms of technique and evolution of the art of forechecking, the Leafs preach:
  • Stick on puck: stick gets there before you do, so target the puck
  • Take out the hands: aim the hips into the hands of the opponent trying to corral the puck; here your size is almost irrelevant as a player's body is going to always be bigger and stronger than hands. Taking out the hands means loose puck with your body between the defender and the puck.

Here's someone else's video on Zach Hyman just gaining inside position on everybody.

Yep, always Stick on Puck and Always skate through the hands. They aren't going anywhere without their hands.

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Re: F1: The Importance of Forechecking
« Reply #1 on: August 30, 2021, 12:16:16 PM »

Offline princedpw

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Re: F1: The Importance of Forechecking
« Reply #2 on: August 30, 2021, 12:19:46 PM »
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Offline herman

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Re: F1: The Importance of Forechecking
« Reply #3 on: August 30, 2021, 12:31:42 PM »
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Offline herman

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Re: F1: The Importance of Forechecking
« Reply #4 on: August 30, 2021, 01:00:34 PM »
I do miss Connor Brown's forechecking routes: he didn't have the outright hustle and muscle that Hyman has, but he could deceptively manipulate, anticipate defenders and take away their play option. I think he'd be a very good boomerang signing in his low 30s for like 1.25M as a safe checking winger after his upcoming big UFA payday.
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Offline OldTimeHockey

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Re: F1: The Importance of Forechecking
« Reply #5 on: August 31, 2021, 07:53:47 AM »
It does take a certain type of player to make a really good F1 option.

All 3 players should be rotating roles based on who's first in, but when a player like Hyman is the F1 the results will generally be better. We know that Marner isn't going to control a player and body them off the puck and we don't want Matthews banging and crashing any more than he already does. Tavares could be an ok F1 but he's a little slow for the role. Nylander falls in with Marner/Matthews.

Attack angles are just as important as the hustle. You not only want to separate the defender from the puck, you want to control where they can go with the puck. Take away their options, except the option that works best for your F2. Your F2 has to recognize which way you are directing the play and react.

My last note, F1 should not chase behind the net. If the puck switches sides, F1 responsibilities switch sides. If the D carries the puck behind the net on the original zone entry, F1 should be choosing the shortest route and angling the player deeper into the corner giving them a single choice of feeding the puck up the walls...which in turn locks their winger against the boards.

Offline herman

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Re: F1: The Importance of Forechecking
« Reply #6 on: August 31, 2021, 11:16:55 AM »
Since we have a lot of smol boys in the system, it kind of makes even more sense that Dr. Wickenheiser and Goyette are working the dev group.

https://tjmanastersky.com/2021/05/10/learning-from-womens-ice-hockey/
Quote
The rules of a game dictate constraints and affordances. In women’s ice-hockey, body checking is a minor penalty and therefore the players are constrained to defend without it.

However, they are afforded the opportunity to develop critical defending skills such as using the stick effectively, taking away space with angling, and getting above the puck when re-loading.

It's a playstyle with more longevity to it.
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Offline Frank E

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Re: F1: The Importance of Forechecking
« Reply #7 on: August 31, 2021, 11:56:10 AM »
Since we have a lot of smol boys in the system, it kind of makes even more sense that Dr. Wickenheiser and Goyette are working the dev group.

https://tjmanastersky.com/2021/05/10/learning-from-womens-ice-hockey/
Quote
The rules of a game dictate constraints and affordances. In women’s ice-hockey, body checking is a minor penalty and therefore the players are constrained to defend without it.

However, they are afforded the opportunity to develop critical defending skills such as using the stick effectively, taking away space with angling, and getting above the puck when re-loading.

It's a playstyle with more longevity to it.

It's a playstyle that is a lot less fun to watch though.

Offline princedpw

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Re: F1: The Importance of Forechecking
« Reply #8 on: August 31, 2021, 12:17:03 PM »
It does take a certain type of player to make a really good F1 option.

All 3 players should be rotating roles based on who's first in, but when a player like Hyman is the F1 the results will generally be better. We know that Marner isn't going to control a player and body them off the puck and we don't want Matthews banging and crashing any more than he already does. Tavares could be an ok F1 but he's a little slow for the role. Nylander falls in with Marner/Matthews.

Attack angles are just as important as the hustle. You not only want to separate the defender from the puck, you want to control where they can go with the puck. Take away their options, except the option that works best for your F2. Your F2 has to recognize which way you are directing the play and react.

My last note, F1 should not chase behind the net. If the puck switches sides, F1 responsibilities switch sides. If the D carries the puck behind the net on the original zone entry, F1 should be choosing the shortest route and angling the player deeper into the corner giving them a single choice of feeding the puck up the walls...which in turn locks their winger against the boards.

Love this

Offline OldTimeHockey

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Re: F1: The Importance of Forechecking
« Reply #9 on: August 31, 2021, 12:36:34 PM »
Since we have a lot of smol boys in the system, it kind of makes even more sense that Dr. Wickenheiser and Goyette are working the dev group.

https://tjmanastersky.com/2021/05/10/learning-from-womens-ice-hockey/
Quote
The rules of a game dictate constraints and affordances. In women’s ice-hockey, body checking is a minor penalty and therefore the players are constrained to defend without it.

However, they are afforded the opportunity to develop critical defending skills such as using the stick effectively, taking away space with angling, and getting above the puck when re-loading.

It's a playstyle with more longevity to it.

It's a playstyle that is a lot less fun to watch though.

I would have agreed with you a year or two ago, but I don't think it's that much more entertaining to watch a game with hitting as opposed to one without. I see a transition happening in boys hockey as well towards a game more similar to the women's game. I'm bias (coach female hockey and have a female hockey player) but I think it's actually a good thing. I'd love to see a game of Connor McDavid's skating around when the head on collision risk is removed. I don't know that I'd completely eliminate the checking, but I think I'd look to remove opposite directional hitting. Meaning, I have no problem if it's a hit that takes place between two players skating in the same direction(angling out a player), but I'd remove opposite directional hits(Open Ice hits, head on collisions, charges....).


Offline Nik

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Re: F1: The Importance of Forechecking
« Reply #10 on: August 31, 2021, 12:58:52 PM »

Yeah, I think you have to factor in the actual health effects on players when talking about the entertainment value of your various playstyles. The game is at its best when the best players are actually on the ice.
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Offline OldTimeHockey

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Re: F1: The Importance of Forechecking
« Reply #11 on: August 31, 2021, 01:13:11 PM »

Yeah, I think you have to factor in the actual health effects on players when talking about the entertainment value of your various playstyles. The game is at its best when the best players are actually on the ice.

Yes, Eric Lindros is the first player to come to mind.
He played a game in the OHL where he was the biggest boy on the ice. In fact, he was a man on the ice against boys. When he got to the NHL, he was with players of equal size and more strength and those open ice hits absolutely destroyed what could have been an absolutely incredible career which robbed the entertainment value of him being on the ice.

Offline bustaheims

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Re: F1: The Importance of Forechecking
« Reply #12 on: August 31, 2021, 01:35:02 PM »
Yeah, I think you have to factor in the actual health effects on players when talking about the entertainment value of your various playstyles. The game is at its best when the best players are actually on the ice.

Yup. When I watch hockey, I want to see the best players in the world doing things that only the best players in the world can do.
"Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts." - Daniel Patrick Moynihan

Offline OldTimeHockey

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Re: F1: The Importance of Forechecking
« Reply #13 on: August 31, 2021, 02:03:09 PM »
Yeah, I think you have to factor in the actual health effects on players when talking about the entertainment value of your various playstyles. The game is at its best when the best players are actually on the ice.

Yup. When I watch hockey, I want to see the best players in the world doing things that only the best players in the world can do.

I'm all for rough, grinding hockey. The women's game has a roughness to it. There's corner battles. There's still animosity between the players. But seeing a Poulin or Knight create plays is the real entertainment. Now imagine McDavid or Marner(Or Nylander) with the same freedom.

Offline bustaheims

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Re: F1: The Importance of Forechecking
« Reply #14 on: August 31, 2021, 02:38:28 PM »
Yeah, I think you have to factor in the actual health effects on players when talking about the entertainment value of your various playstyles. The game is at its best when the best players are actually on the ice.

Yup. When I watch hockey, I want to see the best players in the world doing things that only the best players in the world can do.

I'm all for rough, grinding hockey. The women's game has a roughness to it. There's corner battles. There's still animosity between the players. But seeing a Poulin or Knight create plays is the real entertainment. Now imagine McDavid or Marner(Or Nylander) with the same freedom.

Sure. I also enjoy the physical element of the game. That's never going away completely. I just want the defining element to be skill - whether it's offensive or defensive, doesn't matter - not big hits, clutching and grabbing, etc. Anything that slows the game down or puts players at risk can and should be minimized. I don't want to see star players dragged down in a game that diminishes what they can do. I want it to be as difficult as reasonably possible to shut them down. I want more highlight reel plays.

Basically, I want whatever it was the Habs did in the playoffs last year to go bye-bye. It killed the entertainment value of the game by neutering the best players.
« Last Edit: August 31, 2021, 02:40:19 PM by bustaheims »
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