1-3-1 Power Play - 5 Options

1-3-1 Power Play Options

The 1-3-1 power play formation has become the go to power play system for most high level teams.  Just about every NHL team is using it so there must be a reason.  Power play systems like the overload, umbrella, set pick plays, etc... can be effective until the other team knows how to play against them.  The 1-3-1 formation allows teams a myriad of options and allows teams to get into other formations very quickly, adding an element of surprise and confusion to the penalty killers.  It has the ability to spread the ice as much as possible inside the zone, keep a player in front of the net at all times, and place shooters in key positions.  There are a couple of very important factors when using the 1-3-1. First, right and left handed players need to be strategically placed.  Second, your best shooter should be place in certain positions based on what options you are going to run.  Third, it is important to have a player that understands how to play in front of the net by taking away the goalies eyes and making themselves available with good stick position when the puck is on the half wall.  The options below can all be run out of the 1-3-1 and this formation is not limited to these by any means.  At the end of this post you will see a video of the Washington Capitals that shows a lot of goals being scored on the 1-3-1.  It demonstrates just hom many options there are and how creative players can be. 

Set Up the 1-3-1

When setting up the 1-3-1 it is important to try to get the puck at the top of the zone in the middle of the ice with full control.  The options below all use a strategy of getting the puck to the point and spreading the ice by going D to D, then back to the player at the top.  It is important to outnumber the opponents on any loose pucks and get the puck up high, then go D to D and stretch out the penalty killers.  Once you have full possession in the middle of the ice at the blue line you have many options.  Below are five options that are animated and described in detail.

Option 1 - Quick Set Low

If you have ever spent time watching the Nashville Predators then you most likely saw them trying to use this option. In the demonstration below we used the right side of the ice which placed a left handed forward on the half wall, a left handed player in front of the net, two right handed players on the point, and a right handed player in the slot.  The puck is worked around the perimeter to keep the penalty killers moving and hopefully create a bit of confusion.  When the puck gets to the half wall on the right side of the ice then the left handed player in front of the net slides out and presents their stick.  The penalty killers stick position is important. If they do not take away the pass then the pass goes down low.  The right handed player then slides down for a one timer.  It needs to be a bang, bang pass and shoot play.  Once the puck goes down to the low forward the right hand defense on the other side of the ice needs to crash the weak side post looking for a rebound.  They have to anticipate that once the puck goes low then the shot will be coming from the player in the slot.

Option 2 - Quick Set High

This option uses the same side of the ice and again uses the player in the middle as the shooter.  Instead of the shooter receiving the pass from the player down low there will be one more pass back to the left handed player on the half wall.  This player will then look for the right handed player in the middle of the slot for a one-timer.  The player down low has to get to the front of the net once they pass the puck back to the half wall and anticipate that shot.

Option 3 - Double Screen

Once again the play should start high in the middle of the zone around the blue line.  This option can work from either side regardless of the personnel or which side you are trying to favor.  This option has the player at the top taking a shot from the point through a double screen.  The puck can get worked from low to high and when the puck is high you want the player in the middle and the player in front of the net slightly staggered so that there is absolutely no way the goalie can see the puck.  The player shooting the puck needs to keep the puck 4-6 inches off the ice and just hit the net.  With two of your players plus the penalty killers that will add to the bodies in front the goalie will have a heck of a time tracking the puck.  HIT THE NET and look for rebounds in this option.

Option 4 - Post Up

If you have some dynamic forwards on your power play this may be an option they can favor because it can open things up and confuse the penalty killers quite a bit.  From the half wall the player moves it down low and then goes to the net similar to the typical give and go.  However, the player down low will carry the puck up the wall, wait for the player going to the net to clear a lane to the shooter, and make a pass to the shooter in the slot that is "posted up".

Option 5 - Slap Pass

For this option to work you need to have a right handed player in the shooter's position in order to run it on the left side of the ice and a left handed shooter to run it on the right side.  There needs to be some communication between the player on the half wall and the shooter and they need to be on the same page.  The player on the half wall is going to be selling the shot from just outside the dots.  The player in the middle will be going to the net with their stick on the ice.  The slap pass will be hard enough so that the player in the middle just needs to get their stick it and re-direct it towards the net.  In many cases it opens up the goalies legs as they think the shot/pass is going to the far post.

Unlimited Options with the 1-3-1 Power Play

We have shown 5 options for the 1-3-1 power play but the reason this power play is so widely used is because it offers so many options and allows the players to be creative.  If you want to have some fun watching the 1-3-1 power play in action then have a look at this video of the Washington Capitals.  You will see some of the options posted above plus some other very well designed plays and then some plays that are just outright creative.

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