A one-on-one is the classic confrontation between you and your opponent. As a defenseman, you could be the only thing standing between the puck carrier and a great scoring opportunity.
Gap control is the act of controlling the space between you and your opponent. It’s the first step in containing your opponent and dictating where you want him to go. You want to keep the distance tight enough so he can’t get off a good shot while using you as a screen. At the same time, you can’t be too tight or he could go right around you, or get to the middle of the ice for a better shot on goal.
Taking away space allows you to make him go where you want him to. Line up your outside shoulder on his inside shoulder and try to force him to the outside, where he could be forced to take a shot from a bad angle.
The stick check is your first line of defense, but you have to maintain control of it. Don’t be swinging it around wildly or you can be caught out of position or off balance.
Eventually you’re going to have to make your move and confront your opponent. This normally happens somewhere between the blue line and the top of the face-off circle. By defending the blue line you slow down your opponent and can force an offside. By the top of the face-off circle you need to force a play because your opponent is now in close enough to have a good scoring opportunity.
Remember This …
Focus on your opponent, not the puck. The biggest thing I see with young players is that they get caught watching the puck instead of the chest. Line up your body on your opponent’s body, and not his stick.
photo by Getty Images • Illustrations by Mike Curti