The 1-2-2 trap is not only a bad idea, but an impossible strategy for the Pittsburgh Penguins to effectively deploy. It is the worst possible use of the Penguins offensive minded personnel and has not given us any advantage from the time of its deployment.
As an alternative we have created a new strategy. This strategy has not been attempted in hockey up to this point, it is the 4-1.
We will title it the 4-1 overload because the strategy puts as many offensive bodies as possible in the offensive zone in an attempt to use Pittsburgh's greatest strength, as a strength.
To discuss this strategy it is best to understand the personnel who wear the Black and Vegas Gold.
In each of the defensive pairings for the Penguins there is an offensive defensemen. This is a very unique condition and almost no team in the NHL has this personnel set.
It makes no sense whatsoever to use these offensive defensemen in a 1-2-2 trap strategy. It limits their offensive abilities and forces them to play as a defensive defensemen.
Also on three of the four Penguins forward lines there is a player who even now is very effective at the dump and chase strategy due to their physical play and speed while skating. Matt Cooke, Maxime Talbot, Tyler Kennedy, Pascal Dupuis, and Bill Thomas have all proven very effective at this.
The second forward line is the only line in which this strategy could not effectively be deployed. However, could be rearranged to use the 4-1 strategy.
With all of that in mind let us consider the 4-1 overload strategy.
A team using the 4-1 would employ a dump and chase strategy where one of the above personnel will use their speed to get behind the net and possess the puck. From this position they will use the entire area behind the net to dish out the puck to other players.
Along the boards an off side winger will come in opposite the dump and use the area from boards to the slot to either set up other players or to take bad-angle shots.
One player, usually a center or a sniper, will rush to the slot area and establish control from the front of the net to the top of the face off circles and to the boards not covered by the off side winger.
This player will take one-timers after being fed from either behind the net or from the winger along the boards. He will also maintain a presence in front of the net for deflections and screening the goaltender.
The offensive defensemen from each pairing will control what is essentially the point on a power play. He will move from the boards to the far edge of the slot to keep the puck in the zone and take shots.
The defensive defensemen from each paring will rarely, if ever cross the blue line. This is what the defensive defensemen on the Penguins prefer to do currently, so it will not adjust their play at all. He will remain at center ice and will occasionally move up to keep the puck in the zone.
This strategy is the most offensively minded strategy that can be used while still leaving a man behind to maintain defense. With the very offensively constructed Penguins roster this is the best possible way in which to utilize their talent.
There is, of course, a down side to this strategy. The possibility of giving up an odd-man rush is greater while using this strategy and it will be more difficult to prevent the opposing team from scoring.
To answer that concern, consider that even while using a 1-2-2 trap the Penguins are still giving up numerous odd-man rushes and not effectively slowing opposing offenses. Our current strategy is ineffective and needs to change if we want success in the future.
The opposing team would need to maintain at least four skaters well within their defensive zone at all times.
At least one skater would be needed behind the net to attempt to cut-off passes. At least one, more than likely two, skaters would be kept in the slot area to prevent one-timers, deflections, and screening.
At least one skater would be needed along the near boards to prevent the playmaker from setting up the player in the slot or point. At least one skater would be needed on the man at the point to prevent shots.
With all of these players focused on playing defense and preventing goals it is unlikely that the opposing team will be able to get enough personnel free for an odd-man rush.
Even in the worst case scenario the offensive defensemen at the point can drop back and the defensive defensemen will have enough time to establish himself before the rush gets to the offensive zone.
Essentially this would create an even-strength power play situation at all times where the overwhelming offensive presence of the team employing the 4-1 will force the opposing team to remain on the defensive if they hope to stop a goal.
Though it has never been deployed in the NHL for a reason, with the Penguins in the position they are, it cannot hurt to try something new.
I would greatly appreciate feedback on this strategy as it is still in the development stages.Also if any of you have contact with the Penguins organization, please inform them of this strategy. Therrien is known to try anything once and this could help the Penguins out of their slump.