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Hockey School
the professorThe left-wing lock

What is it?: A system of controlled forechecking that disrupts the opposition before it has a chance to escape its own zone.

What does it look like?: A basic 2-3 formation in which the center and right wing cruise into the opponent's zone to forecheck. The left wing joins the two defensemen to create a three-pronged wall at the blue line.

lock graphicHow does it work?: The idea is that the center and right wing's presence in the zone will force the opposition to funnel the play to the left side of the ice. If they go left, they'll eventually run into the left wing, and as a result, be locked. If they go right, the defensemen will be waiting to break up the play. The offensive team faces a difficult task regardless which side is chosen.

Where does it come from?: The left-wing lock is similar to the neutral-zone trap in that it was created by international organizations with the intention of slowing the mighty Russian teams of the 1960s and 1970s. The Swedes came up with the trap. Czechoslovakia came up with the lock.

Why does it get so much attention?: Like the trap, the lock became popular once a team won the Stanley Cup with it. The Devils won in 1995 with a trap-based system. The Red Wings, under Scotty Bowman, won in 1997, 1998 and 2002 with a lock-based system.

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