Much like other aspects of offensive play, coaches have to decide how comfortable they are with getting their Ds involved in the offense. Basically, how much risk do they want to take? If the offensive team has quality puck possession, there is little risk in allowing the defense to move in offensively. You have to teach your players to make good decisions with the puck and trust that they will make a safe play rather than a dangerous play. The key rules for defensemen that will help minimize risk are as follows:
1. Only one D at a time goes deep into the offensive zone.
2. Read the time of the game and the score—Ds should be more cautious when moving in offensively late in periods or when your team has the lead.
3. The forwards must have quality puck possession in order for the defense to activate.
4. When the defense move in, if a pass is not made do not “hang out”—get back to the blue line quickly.
This section describes special plays made in the offensive zone using an active defense. The plays are all effective and provide a variety of options.
D1 reads that F1 is cycling out of the corner, so he slides down the boards and receives an exchange pass from F1. The exchange is like a handoff in football, where the puck carrier protects the puck and gives it to D1. D1 now has the option of driving the net with the puck or cutting behind the net with possession and looking for a passing option (figure 4.6). F1 should cycle out high and remain in a defensive position until D1 recovers.