Shot Blocking in Modern Hockey

Shot blocking is very important for modern hockey. Efficient blocking determines the way to victory, as well as a possibility of player passing to the next game that is an ordinary event in terms of the entire league, but may be crucial for the off player team.

Importance of Shot Blocking in NHL

In 2017/18 season, the Ottawa star defenseman, Erik Karlsson, interrupted a series of 324 games running from February 2013. What is the reason? The injury as a result of blocking the opponent’s shot. Looking at the statistics of blocked shots one may just wonder why he has got no injuries before. In that season Karlsson was a leading NHL player by a number of blocked shots - 201. There are many well-known names among the successful blocking leaders, e.g., Kris Russell (193), Ian Cole (186), Niklas Hjalmarsson (177), and among our defensemen in the league, the blocking leaders are Nikita Zaitsev from Toronto with 151 blocks, and Ivan Provorov from Philadelphia with 149 blocks. .

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The blocking statistics is much less viewed than the rating of the best top scorers of the league. However, majority is not all. The number of shots blocked by defensemen is virtually the first layout viewed by the NHL clubs goalkeepers..
In modern hockey, shot blocking is no longer a kind of musketeering or self-sacrificing, now it has become an inseparable part of defense strategy of all teams with no exceptions, as the successful blocking indices are also very important, they characterize the defense efficiency.

However victories are formed of trifles or things looking like that. Ice hockey players who block the shot represent a very important idea in terms of morals and psychological effect, which is much more deeper in terms of team building and general atmosphere in the changing room, than it is thought of. Preventing the puck from reaching the goal has become a game philosophy, a commitment undertaken by field players.


Shot Blocking Technique

Everyone involved in hockey understands that blocking a shot requires self-sacrificing and certain courage. While blocking the shot requires proper technique, the lower the player goes down in the moment of blocking, the higher is the chance that the puck hits the least defended body part and turns out downside for him and his team..

All hockey players understand possible consequences, when playmates actually cover the puck, however, for goalkeepers it is the “technically correct” blocking that is important. When a player is falling on the puck or is squatting - it is the most correct way of blocking the shot. It enables him to cover the most goal area for the shooter, while providing a good visibility to a goalkeeper in case of a flip shot. Blocking in a vertical position is no doubt better than no blocking at all, but as goalkeepers say, a blocking player in a static position covers too much visibility for a goalkeeper and too little of a blocking space.

The best way of blocking is half-squat on one knee, as far as if you are falling on the puck, you may fall a victim to a fake shot. Finally, each hockey player irrespective of his role has preferences in the issue of blocking the bullet..


Impact on the Player’s Health

Сейчас несколько забавно вспоминать, что несколько лет назад в NHL шли жаркие дискуссии о том, не убивают ли блоки хоккей, как игру. Существовало  мнение, что снижение результативности есть прямое следствие того, что защитники все чаще и чаще встают на траекторию бросков, снижая количество бросков по воротам и общую результативность.

В 2012-м тогдашний главный тренер "Рейнджерс" Джон Торторелла сорвался в эфире радиостанции ESPN New York на экспертов, освещавших жизнь команды.


"Я думаю, что люди, которые пишут про то, как наша команда блокирует броски, - идиоты. Это неуважительно по отношению к игрокам и команде в целом. Мы не сидим на командных собраниях и не обсуждаем, что нам вообще не стоит пытаться заводить шайбу в чужую зону и пытаться забить, а только весь вечер блокировать чужие броски. Блокирование - составная часть грамотной обороны и вообще правильный путь игры в хоккей. Половина из тех, кто освещает нашу команду, никогда не занимались спортом и просто не понимают, о чем они вообще говорят", - заявил тренер.

Impact on the Player’s Health

Although the issue of importance is definitely towards blocking, the issue of protecting the player’s health is a matter of a discussion. The issue is relevant both for professionals and amateurs, its price is the only difference. Nobody is immune to injuries, neither a famous player performing a multi-million contract, nor an amateur having surprisingly found himself on a sick leave. The economic effect of the injury can be easily evaluated for a player of any level.

An ice hockey player of any level has a blocking instinct, but the most important thing is to do your best by choosing a position and body form, as it determines the consequences when the puck hits you in the very moment of blocking.

Hockey is an unpredictable game, and nobody can foresee what is awaiting for you in your next ice shift. That is why all players have to think the same: “Sometimes it hits the parts that hurt terribly. You just hope it will do without fractures.".

To prevent such situations it is important to use protective gear, in particular, skate boot protectors. As during the moment of blocking a player acts on his instinct, he has just a few seconds to anticipate the body position trying to think of consequences.….