A 2-on-2 is one of the most common plays in hockey, yet many orwards don’t know how to turn this even-man situation to their advantage. As a forward attacking the offensive zone, your goal is to create an odd-man situation, which will lead to a better scoring chance. As a defender, you want to work to keep the situation even, maintaining a tight gap will slow the play down and allow your backcheckers to join the play.
As the forwards head up ice on a 2-on-2, they have several options to isolate one defender and turn the play into a 2-on-1. One way to do this is for the puck carrier to cut across the ice and attack the opposite defenseman as the off wing cuts behind the puck carrier and darts into the area between the two defenders, in effect creating a 2-on-1.
How the defensemen play this will depend in large part where they are on the ice. A good rule of thumb is for defensemen to stay in their lanes if the play is still in the neutral zone. Once they’re inside the blueline, if the forwards criss-cross, the defenseman should stay with his man as he cuts across the ice while the other defenseman sags and picks up the other forward.
The puck carrier can also swing wide, taking the defenseman with him toward the boards. The off wing can then shoot the gap and receive a quick pass in hopes of beating the other defender to the net.
The key for the defensemen is to stay with their men. As one defender stays with the puck carrier, forcing him toward the boards and to a bad angle, his defensive partner needs to stay with the off wing, keeping his body between the forward and the goal while attempting to cut off a passing lane.
Remember This …
The forwards use their speed to create time and space and isolate one defenseman. For the defensemen, the idea is to keep a tight gap and take away the creativity that comes with time and space. They want to create two separate 1-on-1s. It’s a battle of wills to determine who will come out on top.