St. Petersburg Times online  
Hockey School
the professorPower plays

What are they?: When an opposing player is sent to the penalty box by himself, the team is awarded a two-, four-or five-minute man advantage, depending upon the severity of the infraction.

Why are they so important?: Quite simply, games swing on special teams more than any other aspect of the sport. Imagine if the Rays had to play an inning without a shortstop; the Bucs without a cornerback. The opposition would have a serious edge. The only difference in hockey is these advantages are reality. And teams must learn how to succeed with them.

What is the objective?: To keep the puck in the opponent’s zone for as long as possible. This helps create more scoring chances, and in turn, more goals.

What is the strategy?: Most teams use what is known as the umbrella. In this set, two forwards – usually the center and the bigger wing – park on either side of the goalie. The other wing and one defenseman park near the boards just above the two faceoff circles. The other defenseman – in most cases the hardest shooter – stands at the top of the zone. The plan is to have the two skaters on the wings maintain puck possession while the two up-front skaters create traffic and clear an open lane for the sharpshooter. If all are positioned correctly, the players form what looks like an umbrella.

The lingo: The skater – usually a defenseman – who carries the puck into the zone and directs his teammates while in the zone, is known as the power play's quarterback.

– Compiled by Tim Sullivan

© Copyright 2006 St. Petersburg Times. All rights reserved