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Teams have to win the skirmishes in these areas to win. Be sure to watch who does best getting the puck across the blue lines.

When coming out of your defensive zone of the rink the defense man passes the puck to the left winger (bum on the boards, target out) he takes one stride towards clear ice and passes to the center who is heading up the middle (target out) meanwhile the other winger is at top speed going up the other side boards. The center receives the pass, looks up and there is the other team’s defense man standing on the blue line. He puts his best deke on the defense man and the defense man neatly poke checks the puck off his stick. So the puck carrier has been stopped; but, not the other rushing players.

Because they are enthusiastic to go score a goal the momentum of the rushing wingers carries them well into the neutral zone where they need to turn around and comeback. Even the supporting defense men are moving quickly up towards the blue line.

So when the other team’s defense man picks up the puck behind the rushing center iceman he only has to beat the one defense man who has prudently held back from rushing out of the defensive zone. This is an excellent scoring opportunity for the puck carrying team because the opposing team’s rushing forwards are in the neutral zone. Not in the defensive zone covering their checks. Meanwhile the other team’s forwards are now supporting their puck carrying defense man all in our defensive zone, and it is probably a three on one situation. A very good scoring opportunity.

To avoid this; the puck has to get out of the defensive zone at all costs. If the center iceman is given the puck in the blue zone and an opponent is in his way he must at a minimum get the puck past the opponent so that the puck makes it into the neutral zone.

Then the other team has to clear our defensive zone or they may end up offside; thereby stopping play.

Now we know; we have the puck in the neutral zone as the center iceman has shot the puck over into the area of his winger in the neutral zone and this winger is flying up the boards, our defense is skating up the ice quickly and our center and the other winger are speeding along to support the puck carrier. This puck carrier decides to deke the defense man and somehow the defense man poke checks the puck from him and gains possession of the puck. The opposition is now on the offensive in the neutral zone. Once again our puck carrier has been stopped; but, not his teammates.

Momentum doesn’t permit the rushing wingers and center to turn back until 15’ inside the blue line. Our defense stops at center ice to change direction and while they are stopped the other team’s forwards pass by them on their way to our net. At least two of the rushing forwards are 20 feet or more behind the play.

ONCE AGAIN the puck carrier in the blue zone must get the puck over the blue line into the offensive zone at all costs. Shooting the puck to stop deep in the offensive zone so one of his rushing forwards has a chance to get the puck first is the simplest and the minimum the puck carrier can and must do.

Now; think about what you would like to see happen when the team you are not cheering for is trying to get out of their defensive zone (our offensive zone) or trying to get into their offensive zone (our defensive zone). If the Coach and the players know and understand their defensive responsibilities and they start executing them as soon as the other team has control of the puck our team will do well defensively. The Coach needs the players to understand the importance of play in the “blue zones” both when playing offensive and defensive hockey.

Whichever team is most successful in the “blue zones” will most likely win the game. 

Simply put the toughest, hardest working, smartest and most skilled players with teammates support will command the blue zones and win. Be sure to watch the action. Hopefully your team plays best in these blue zones.