Thursday, November 10, 2011

Busting The Neutral Zone Trap With The Flying V

On Wednesday night the hockey world was set a buzz by the "trap busting" tactics of the Philadelphis Flyers who chose to just stand in a stationary position when Tampa dropped back into a 1-3-1 forecheck. This is both ridiculous and ineffective. If you want to bust the trap, standing still is not going to put the puck in the other team's end. To succeed, you need to get creative. The trap only works in the neutral zone and is "neutralized" once you get set up in the other team's end. What you need to do is hammer "the thin edge of the wedge" straight up the middle in the form of a modified flying V circa the Disney Mighty Ducks movies.

Am I being serious or sarcastic? Well maybe a little bit of both, but it would be funny to see. Of course the fatal flaw in the original flying V is that the other team knows the lead guy is going to get a pass through his legs before he reaches the blueline so as to avoid being offside. Hence why the flying V was never adopted by professional hockey teams (yes, I'm sure that's the only reason). But here's the catch, if a team like Tampa is just going to sit back at the red line and not forecheck, why not have your players assemble in a tight group formation and skate up the ice together as a singular cohesive unit? Then as they are coming over the red line the lead players can fan out while the puck carrier either makes a pass, fires it around the boards, or flips the puck up in the air so it lands in slot area at the same time as the wedge.

Would that work? Maybe, maybe not, but it would be more entertaining than having Braydon Coburn stand still for 30 seconds. The trap nearly killed hockey in the 90s. It is less objectionable when a team is protecting a lead late in the game, but at the start of the game? Shame on Tampa for starting a 0-0 hockey game in a trap. Should the NHL make the 1-3-1 an automatic 2 minute penalty? Absolutely not. Perhaps the best thing to do (aside from the flying V) is to have a rule where all icings and offsides are waived off if a team is employing a trap formation. It may not be as fun as the flying V, but it would make the trap less effective.

"the Duck is one of the most noble, agile and intelligent creatures in the animal kingdom...have you guys ever seen a flock of ducks flying in perfect formation? It's beautiful. Pretty awesome the way they all stick together. Ducks never say die."

-Gordon Bombay, Mighty Ducks 1

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