NHL 17: Best Team Strategies Guide
A comprehensive guide to the Team Strategies on NHL 17; how they work, when they work, and how best to use them in your team.
In whatever game mode you play on NHL 17, be it Franchise Mode, Hockey Ultimate Team, the World Cup of Hockey or just a simple Play Now game, your team strategies are vital to how your team will perform. For you to have the best chance of winning, you will need all of your strategies set-up in a way which benefits your style of play.
This guide will explain to you what each team strategy means, how it influences your team, and what types of players you should be looking to use it with.
So, in order of how they are presented on the Team Strategies page on NHL 17, here’s what each of the team strategies mean and how best to use them.
So, just to get clarify here, the forecheck is when your team is on offence and battles to retrieve the puck in the offensive end, be it because they’ve dumped the puck in or they’re hunting the puck down to regain possession and create scoring chances. On NHL 17 there are four different tactics that you can use on the forecheck.
Whilst one forward will hunt down the puck, the other four skaters will form a box at the back of the offensive end, waiting for the puck to come to them. If you have a speedy forward with decent hitting stats along with slower defensemen than this tactic would be a good choice as the forward would either win the puck or draw it towards your waiting players.
Set up like the Passive approach but as the puck comes towards each player’s zone, they will actively move to retain possession themselves. If your lines have decent stats in stick checking and skating then this would be a strong choice.
Two of your skaters move on the puck whilst the other three guard the blue line. It’s a good method of putting your opponent under pressure whilst guarding against them returning back up the ice. If you have strong shooting defensemen who can make the most of the puck – should the pursuing skaters win possession and pass it over – then this is a good tactic for you to use.
Weak Side Lock
Your forwards will move to the side in which the puck is (the strong side), whilst a defenseman will drop back to the side without the puck (the weak side) to cover. It’s a very good way to use pressure on the forecheck should your skaters be fast and strong enough to win the puck. If your opponent has good passing and stick handling skills then you may find yourself chasing down an opponent whilst they just need to get past your weak side defenseman.
The team strategies here concern how your team sets up in the neutral zone when you are not in possession of the puck. So when your opponent regains possession in their end and readies an attack, this is how your team will set-up to stop them from breaking into your defensive end.
A just in-case kind of formation; you have one skater pressuring the puck, three guarding your blue line, whilst you have another sitting inside your defensive end, so that no skater who breaks through the neutral zone is able to get an instant one-on-one with your goaltender. This is a decent tactic to use if their attack is superior to your defence, especially if they have a very quick forward as the man left in can sweep up.
In this tactic you have one skater pressuring and the remaining four skaters guarding the blue line, making a formidable wall. Make sure you have quick skaters for this tactic as the opposition will get past this at some point, likely by dumping the puck, so you’ll need to be the first to it.
One of your skaters will hunt down the puck even if it’s deep in the opposition’s end; your other four players will form up in a box like formation in the neutral zone, giving two tiers of defence. It’s a pretty effective method as your top skater will be pressuring the pass; the front of the box can force the incoming skaters to the boards whilst the back of the box can clean up, should someone break through.
Very much the same as the Red but instead, your remaining four skaters who aren’t pressuring the puck will set up the box more towards the opponent’s blue line, making for a quicker transition back into offence, should they win the puck back. This is a very aggressive format to use, and could leave them with a lot of space and time on your goaltender should a single, likely very fast, player burst through the coverage.
For these team strategies, the slider dictates how offensive you want to be when without the puck, basically. So, if you want your team to go in on the forecheck more often, you set the slider more towards the rating of six. However, if you’d prefer your team to be more defensive, set up more in the neutral zone rather than rushing in for the puck, then go more towards the zero rating.
Speed, checking and stick checking is what you want to be in abundance of should you be looking to go full-forecheck, but if your players are perhaps slower or you’re against a much better team, then opt to set up in the neutral zone more, after all, they can’t win if they can’t score.
It’s very unlikely that you’d be inclined to go full trap or full forecheck, so a safe zone to go between is 2-4 to start off a game, and then see where it takes you.
These team strategies dictate how your team will play when you’re in possession, so if they follow the puck carrier into the offensive zone, or if they’re more tentative to their defensive responsibilities, and slowly move themselves up the ice.
As the puck moves up the ice, the defensemen will follow it into the offensive end, but will set up to keep their defensive positioning. This is always a good tactic if your team is good on the attack and you like circulating the puck in the offensive end, as your defensemen will be ready on the blue line.
As the title suggests, your team will go gung-ho as you transition into offence, they’ll all charge into the offensive zone with you in the quickest way that they can. Whilst this can help to overwhelm your opponent and ready up many options, it does leave you very exposed to the counter, so be sure to have strong passing in your line as you’ll need to keep the puck in early stages of the attack.
The team will press the attack, but will be sure to keep formation and be ready for the puck to come the other way. If you have that one player who you can literally do anything with and you often find yourself just attacking with them, then this may not be a bad tactic to use. With that player on the puck, you can charge up the ice and have a crack on goal knowing that the only consequences will be that either you score or that the rest of your team is ready to mop up afterwards.
Only one or two of your skaters will join the charge with the rest of them staying very defensive, moving up to join the attack once the opposition have cleared into their own end. If you’re nursing a one or two goal lead against someone who is better than you, then this strategy does what it says on the tin. Whilst you’ll obviously still get chances in the offensive end, your team will be set on defending, not over committing to an attack.
This team strategy is a mix of Conservative and Aggressive, whilst players will join the attack, others will be sure to keep their defensive positioning. It helps to keep your team ticking at a regular pace without over committing or not have having enough on the attack to create chances.
On NHL 17, the defensive aspects of the game are just as important as the offensive aspects, with these team strategies potentially being a huge hindrance to common forms of scoring in the game.
Puck Side Attack
This team strategy is to attempt to put a lot of pressure on the puck carrier to try and force a poor pass by overwhelming the area with defenders. The whole unit will move their formation over to the strong side, which does put the opponent under pressure, but can also leave an attacker free on the weak side.
A very aggressive tactic that should maybe only be used on a lower quality team as it leaves you quite exposed around the defensive end, a good passer will be able to cut it apart. It entails your players all moving to the puck carrier, throwing down checks to win the puck back. If your players have high skating skills and great defensive awareness then this tactic may work well, even if the opposition moves the puck away from the pressured area.
Quite a passive tactic, but it has its merits. With your skaters manning the slot and areas by the net, you’re shutting off the shooting lanes of the opposition. Of course, if a puck does get through the coverage, it’s unlikely that your goalie will see it in time to react to it, so you need one with great reflexes and positioning. Be sure not to run your skaters around too much or else the strategy falls apart.
This team strategy is still quite passive, but is more aggressive than Protect Net. Your players will guard the shooting lanes, moving to the puck carrier when they’re in their vicinity to shut down the angles. It’s not overly aggressive but does force the opponent to move the puck around, which could result in errors.
The Normal tactic enforces a mix of closing down the puck but also sticking to man marking, with the players collapsing towards the goal a bit more when the opponent in their area isn’t in possession. Like Standard in offensive pressure, this is a good mix of tactics to not over or under commit.
The strategies in this section instruct how your team forms in the defensive end when your opponent is on the attack and has set up in your zone.
Whilst one of your skaters hunts to puck carrier, your other four will form up on the inside edges of the faceoff circles, creating a box in-front of the goal, whilst this is a good preventative against shots coming in from close, NHL 17 has made it somewhat easier for players to score from the blue line; this team strategy is not very strong against those.
With this strategy, you get players forming up low and close to the net whilst another sits above the slot, watching out for the defensemen, which not only makes it harder for them to get a favourable angle on a shot, but also gives you a chance to quickly pounce and steal the puck.
Three of your skaters will stay low, containing the puck and staying close to the opposition’s forwards whilst your two wingers will push to the defensemen. This is almost like pure man-marking, so if a skater manages to get free in an unmanned zone, they’re going to get an easy shot. However, the man-to-man coverage makes it difficult to find that kind of space.
On the penalty kill your team is down a player for at least two minutes at a time, so, as intended by the sport, the opposition have a major advantage. You’ll need to utilise the skills of your players to enable you to use a viable penalty kill team strategy.
Your players form a box with one in-front of your keeper, one in either faceoff circle, with the other operating in the mid-to-high slot. The players move to shut off shooting lanes but have a small interaction zone – meaning that the opponent would need to come quite close to them for them to attack the puck. It’s very passive but gets bodies in the way. This team strategy may be best used with a team which possesses lots of big players who have strong defensive awareness but may be a bit slow footed.
The players set up very much the same as with the Passive Box, but are far more aggressive, they’ll move into the puck carrier to force a move. This is great for a team of quick skaters who also posses good stick checking skills.
Here you’ll get one of your players at the net-front, a player either side of them, and one pushing up the middle of the ice. It’s specifically designed to help snuff out the Umbrella powerplay (which you’ll see below shortly), outside of that, the strategy is a bit of a mess with little pressure being applied to the wide areas as a standard.
Getting on the powerplay on NHL 17 can sometimes be a rare occurrence, so you’ll want to make the most of your time on the man-advantage. You’ll have extra ice but the opposition will be setting up in a way to stop your shots making it to their net, so you’ll need players with great passing, puck control and wrist shots, whilst having a good slap shot rating on your player at the point.
This team strategy is designed to get the puck to the point and get shots on net. You’ll have a man at the point with another creating a screen down the slot. You’ll want to pass the puck around your other skaters to draw the defenders away from the middle of the ice, and then tee up your man at the point.
It is quite an aggressive form of powerplay, with your players moving over to the strong side. It’s good for drawing defenders out of position but you’ll need to enforce quick passing to do so.
The team strategy that can be countered by the Diamond penalty kill is also a very good way of freeing up scoring throughout your powerplay unit. Your team will set up with two players by the net, one in each faceoff circle and another at the point. Circulating the puck to free up a shooting lane for either the player at the point or those in the faceoff circle is key as then the ones by the net can sweep up. Those positioned by the net can also provide a tricky assist from behind the net, which often catches out NHL 17 goaltenders.
Ranging from one to ten on the slider on NHL 17 – one having a tendency to carry and ten meaning that you want to dump the puck more – you’ll want to alter this more based on your opponent than your own players. If your opponent is very defensive and tends to stack the neutral zone, then opt to dump the puck more. Having speedy skaters will be a huge help with this strategy.
However, if your opponent tends to be more passive and backs off to protect the net, opt to carry the puck, you may as well keep it in possession for all the time that you can. With them being a man down already, you will have more space for your players, so being more pro-carry is often the right way to go.
These team strategies plan how your team will breakout from your defensive end into the neutral zone and eventually the offensive end, so it’s vital to know where your options are as you look to transition defence into offence.
Strong Side Slant
Your defenseman will claim the puck behind the net and wait for the center to swing around and up the ice, and the right wing will follow. This pushes more bodies to one side of the ice, so distributing it to that side will give extra protection as you move through the zones.
Blue to Blue
A staggered strategy that places one of your wingers on the opponent’s blue line and one on yours, whilst the center swings back into your zone. If you pass the puck to your center, they can then get some quick passing in motion, giving it to the near winger to then send the far winger on his way.
Your three forwards will move into the neutral zone as a unit whilst your defender comes out from behind the net, having three options to pass to as the line moves up and into the offensive end.
When on the powerplay, you will likely lose the puck at some point, which will either result in the opposition coming down and having a crack on your goal or, more commonly, they’ll dump the puck all the way back to your end. So these team strategies lay out how your powerplay unit sets up to burst back into the offensive end.
With this strategy, your whole powerplay unit comes back to the puck and then they all push up as a unit, allowing for lots of passing opportunities as the brunt of the unit looks to enter the zone. It also allows for a quick formation set up in the offensive end.
As you get the puck behind the net, a forward and defenseman will swing back around and up as the other two players already occupy your blue line and the opposition’s blue line.
Centre Lane Option
Your puck carrier will pass to the skater charging up the centre of the ice, often the center, the opponent’s defence will be drawn in to them, but they’ll have the wingers either side to allow for a quick pass if under pressure.
One skater carries the puck up the ice with the rest of the powerplay unit in support, so there’s either the option to knock the puck around or have that one skater carry the puck in. The other skaters will adjust their positioning depending on which skater is carrying and where they roam.
These team strategies concern how your team reacts should you not plan to commence a Controlled Breakout, but instead wish to rush up the ice to catch out the opposition.
As the puck carrier surges up the ice, the weak side winger will pull over towards the puck carrier to provide extra support, forming an almost spearheaded attack, but it can leave one flank open when breaking out.
Basically the opposite of the Close Support team strategy. The weak side winger will instead stick to their side rather than push to the strong side – where the puck carrier is moving, allowing for a pass to switch the play, rather than keeping all offence down one side.
Leave Zone Early
When the breakout begins in your defensive end, the weak side winger will immediately push up into the neutral zone, giving a higher option for the pass, or simply drawing opponents over to reduce their resistance on your breakout.
Which team strategies to pick
Every player plays NHL 17 differently and each team has different attributes to utilise, so an easy cop-out way to do this would be to select all of the neutral team strategies. But as a general rule, you’re almost always going to concede when playing NHL 17, but whilst you have possession in the offensive end, your opponent can’t score.
A great way to set-up your team to be able to utilise its time on the puck whilst also being defensively savvy is as such:
Neutral Zone: 1-3-3
Offensive Pressure: Aggressive
Defensive Pressure: Normal
Defensive Strategy: Tight Point
Penalty Kill: Large Box
PP Carry/Dump: 2
Control Breakout: Three High
Powerplay Breakout: Carry Option
Quick Breakout: Leave Zone Early
Now, these tactics won’t work for everyone or every team, but hopefully they will help to improve your offence whilst also keeping your defending sharp, but aggressive.
What are your preferred tactics on NHL 17 and why? Let us know in the comments section below.
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