How Linear Crossovers Create Offense

NHL players using linear crossovers to create offense

In part 1 of our two-part miniseries on linear crossovers, we explained (1) what a linear crossover was and (2) the benefits of employing them. In part 2, we are going to dive into how they create more offense.

Creating Separation

Patrick Kane uses a lateral crossover to gain separation from the backcheck. Notice how far he is able to separate from his check when he executes his lateral crossover at the red line.

One other small detail to notice is how quiet and smooth Patrick Kane is compared with the backchecker. The backchecking forward has to use large arm swings in order to keep good balance. Kane is able to carry the puck smoothly and gain separation. That’s powerful.

This is no accident either. Here is Darryl Belfry, Kane’s skills coach, talking about Kane’s lateral crossovers.

Controlling Feet

Getting to a point where your players understand how to control the defender’s feet is massive in their ability to control space for themselves. Watch here as twice Bo Horvat puts the defenders in bad spots using linear crossovers before depositing the puck in the back of the net.

Torey Krug also is a master of this. Notice how he keeps Zach Parise stuck on one side of the ice until he was ready to explode into the open. He then used linear crossovers to accelerate into a breakaway and score the overtime-winning goal.

When attacking, understanding two simple things about the defense changes the dynamic in which a player can play offense.

  1. Handedness of the defenders. What does this allow the defender to do? How does this limit them?

  2. Footwork of the defender. If an attacker can get a defender to cross their feet, a Pandora’s box of possibilities opens.

In this video, Connor McDavid waits for Morgan Reilly to cross his feet. Before Reilly’s skate even hits the ice, McDavid uses a lateral crossover to create a breakaway and highlight real goal.

One simple thing a coach can do to help is to encourage his/her players to focus on skating with crossovers on the straightways. You may see that, aside from the benefits laid out in Part 1, the defenders may also cross their feet, giving the advantage to your player.

Getting Open And Picking Up Speed

Lateral crossovers can help players separate from defenders to open up passing lanes while simultaneously gaining speed.

Defenders try to maintain a tight gap and protect the middle of the ice. Attacking players can use lateral crossovers to get slightly outside, enough to open up a lane, while having the added benefit of creating great speed so that if/when they catch a pass, they can put defenders in a tough spot.

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