All the hockey talk today is about Lightning Coach Guy Boucher’s 1-3-1 forecheck (or lack thereof?) and how Peter Laviolette, the Head Coach of the Philadelphia Flyers, decided to beat it by doing nothing. You read that correctly – he told his players that if no one forechecks you, don’t do anything. This sarcastic and somewhat childish approach has people furious with Guy Boucher for taking the fun out of the game by having his team play an innovative variation of the trap.
I am probably in the minority, but my target for criticism is Peter Laviolette. He is an NHL coach, one of the 30 best in the world, and he really can’t come up with an answer for how to break down this system? Yes – the 1-3-1 is a very effective style of play, but like any system, it can be broken down.
First – take a look at the 1-3-1 diagram below. The defending players marked with an “X” are in the 1-3-1 formation. The bottom right D has the puck, the left D is in position for a D to D pass, and you have 3 forwards marked W, C and W.
STEP 1: MOVE TO THE MIDDLE
Knowing that the first X will NOT attack, you need to move to the middle to set up all of your options. Staying on one side of the ice will make it easy for the 1-3-1 setup to force a turnover.
STEP 2 – GAIN SPEED WITH CROSSING PATTERNS, CREATE 4 LANES
Have your 2 wingers pick up speed by crossing wide in the neutral zone past the dots, have your D and your C do the same thing except staying within the dots.
STEP 3 – BEAT THE FIRST “X” WITH A SHORT PASS
The D is now approaching the first X, who can’t possibly cover both pass options (D to C & D to D – marked with arrows) so one will be available. A longer pass to one of the Ws will in all likelihood be intercepted, and even if it’s not, the player would be isolated with no support.
STEP 4 – QUICKLY USE 1 OF 4 AVAILABLE OPTIONS TO GAIN THE ZONE
Now that the “1″ in the 1-3-1 has been beat, its time to beat the “3″. In this situation, the D chose to pass to the C, who is now the puck carrier. The C will typically be confronted by one of the middle 3 defenders, who will be getting back pressure from the first X who was beat.
Option 1 is to pass to the left W.
Option 2 is a soft short side chip to create a foot race between the X back in the zone and the left W.
Option 3 is for the C to skate the puck in, although that is unlikely to be a viable option, because if the 1-3-1 is being played properly, he will not be able to gain the zone uncontested.
Option 4 is a soft corner dump to the side far side (or “area pass”) to create a foot race between the X back in the zone and the right W.
The key to this is timing and speed, especially for the dump-in options – you don’t want a situation where the Ws have not timed this properly and are as a result stationary at the blueline to prevent an offside when the puck was dumped in.
About the Author
Written by Corey Krakower
I am the Director of NHL Content & Habs writer for ProSportsBlogging.com; I have spent 8 seasons behind the bench as a minor hockey coach; and I am the future GM of the Montreal Canadiens (according to my mom). I spend my days managing the Harrow Sports brand in my hometown of Montreal and I moonlight as a Hockey Advisor for Pi Athlete Management. Most importantly, I'll throw anyone under the bus for a laugh.