Go Hard to the Net
You may have heard other players yell "Go hard to the net!!" but might be unsure exactly what they meant or when you're supposed to do it.
What your helpful teammates are referring to takes place during a two-man rush in the offensive zone. The player who crosses the blue line with the puck is often in an outside lane (coming down on the right or left wing.) The second forward then skates 'hard to the net', ready for a pass.
The defenseman's job on a rush is to push the forward with the puck to the outside boards. If he does his job right, eventually the forward will run out of ice and be forced to make a pass. The puck carrier may not have time to look up and see exactly where you are as he's blazing down the wing trying to fight off the defense. If he manages to get a pass by the defenseman that's checking him, the puck is going to come hard, right in front of the net. That's where you are expected to be.
Make sure you have your stick firmly on the ice with pointed at the net as you bolt toward the goal. You never know when the puck is going to come flying out of the corner, so you've got to be ready. With possibly two defensemen between you and your teammate with the puck, you may not even see it coming.
The reason you need to skate 'hard' is to keep up with the play. The puck carrier crosses the blue line first (or you will be offside) so you've got to accelerate as soon as the puck is over the blue line.
If the puck carrier gets tied up with the D-Man checking him, you may find yourself staring at the goalie before you receive a pass. No problem. Simply stop in front of the net and wait for a pass (keeping your stick on the ice.)
A common mistake many players make is to skate right past the net on the rush. It's kinda tough to score from the opposite corner of the ice, and again, your teammate 'expects' you to be in front of the net waiting or the pass he's worked so hard to get to you. Go Hard to the Net. Be ready for a pass.
Michael Grabner shows us how it's done:
If the pass doesn't come right away, try to get position on the defenseman who's covering you. Face the play and try to get between the defenseman and the net. This way, when the puck finally does arive, you'll have a clear shot at the net.
Here Mario Bliznak does just that on the first NHL goal of his career:
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