NHL 19: Complete Team Strategies Guide, Line Strategies Guide, Best Team Strategies

A comprehensive breakdown of all Team Strategies in NHL 19, including how they work and the best ways to use them.


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If you want to take your team to the next level in any game mode on NHL 19, you’ll want to turn to the team strategies page and optimize every section to best suit your lines and your style of play. Here, we’re going through all of the options in the team strategies menu, telling you exactly what they do. 

To find the team strategies on your NHL 19 Franchise Mode game, move over to the Team Management page, go to the Manage Rosters box, and scroll down to Edit Strategies. 

When you’re in, you’ll be met by a screen similar to the one below, which is loaded with presets. Here, you can change your forecheck strategy, the form of powerplay that your team uses, how the three-on-three offense works, and all of the other aspects of team strategy. They determine how your players react and maneuver in each phase of the game, and as you only control one of those players at a time, it’s important to know where the others are going to be and how they’ll operate. 

Forecheck

In hockey, when your opponent possesses the puck in the neutral zone or their defensive zone, your team will move on the forecheck. The idea of the forecheck is to put pressure on the puck carrier, shut off passing lanes, and force your opponent into making a mistake so that you can win the puck back in an advantageous area. 

2-3: Defensemen set up on the halfway line while two players aggressively pursue the puck carrier and attempt to cut off the easiest pass. The third forward sits more defensively towards the blueline to help prevent a breakout. 

Weak Side Lock: Forwards will push towards the puck carrier and pressure the play along the boards while the strong side defenseman will hold to the boards. The weak side defenseman will sit further down the blueline to prevent breakaways. 

1-2-2 Passive: Here, your forwards will sit quite deep in the offensive end. Your defensemen will cover at the blueline, one forward will press the puck carrier, and the other forward will sit behind the opposition’s forward-most players to prevent a long-pass breakaway. 

1-2-2 Aggressive: Similar to the Passive version in the way that two defensemen sit along the blueline and one forward pressures the puck carrier, but here, the other two forwards will push higher up to cut off short passes by skating between the puck carrier and their closest passing option. 

Neutral Zone

Your neutral zone strategy will dictate how your team sets up when your opponent pushes towards and through the middle of the ice while in possession. 

1-2-2 Red: One forward pressures the carrier, two defensemen sit on your defensive blueline, and the other two sit on the halfway line. The idea is to create two lines of defense to pressure the incoming puck carrier. 

1-2-2 Blue: Very much a flip of the 1-2-2 Red as your two lines of defenders set up on the halfway line and the offensive blue line while a forward pressures the puck carrier. 

1-3-1: One forward pressures the puck carrier while three skaters set up in a horizontal line across the neutral zone to shut off all three lanes. The fifth skater sits behind the line of three to defend the net when a skater breaks through. 

1-4: One forward pressures the puck carrier while the other four set up a horizontal blockade, shutting off even more of the passage through to the defensive end. 

Trap/Forecheck slider

Here, there is only a slider ranging from zero to six. By moving all the way to the left, your team will have a bias towards setting up a neutral zone trap. Moving the slider all the way to the right will mean that your team opts to push the forecheck in the offensive zone. 

Offensive Pressure 

These options decide how aggressive your team is when you have the puck in the offensive zone, primarily influencing how cautious your defensemen behave. 

Full Attack: Your defensemen will focus on generating offensive opportunities and making plays with the sole aim of getting your team on the score sheet.

Aggressive: Your defensemen will look to get involved with the offense more regularly, but will still keep their defensive duties in mind. 

Standard: A balance between Conservative and Aggressive offensive pressure.

Conservative: Your defensemen will be sitting back just in case your opposition retrieves the puck and starts some offense, but they will occasionally step up to help circulate the puck and make a play.

Defend Lead: Your defensemen will sit back, often on or just behind the offensive blueline, to make sure that your opponent doesn’t get a breakaway and have a clear shot on your goal. 

Defensive Pressure

The defensive pressure strategies concern your team’s set up in your defensive end when the opponent has the puck.

High Pressure: Your players will chase down the player in possession, trying to win the puck very aggressively. 

Puck Side Attack: Players who are on the same side as the puck will put pressure on the puck carrier while others will wait for the puck to move closer to them, ready to do the same thing if the opportunity presents itself.

Normal: Here, some players will move towards the players that they’re marking while others will stay closer to the net to block shots. 

Contain Puck: Your players form up in front of the net but are quite mobile, closing down the puck but still aiming to block shots. 

Protect Net: Almost all of your players form up in front of your goaltender to block any incoming shots. 

NHL 19 Defensive Strategies

Your team’s defensive strategy will dictate the formation of your players when in your zone without the puck. It’s quite possibly the most important of all the team strategies as you’ll need all of your players to be exactly where you want them to stop the opposition’s advances. 

Tight Point: This is the close-up player-marking strategy in which each of your players stay tight to a designated opponent. There’s very little support if an opponent gets past one of your players, but this strategy does make it much more difficult to move the puck around. 

Staggered: Players achieve both high and low coverage with some sitting on skaters close to the net, while others pressure the puck carriers at the blueline to shut off passing lanes. 

Collapsing: Four players will sit around your goaltender to stop passes from going across the front of the net, to block shots, to stop shots coming in from close, and to stop attempts at a wraparound. The other skater will pursue the puck to add some pressure. 

Penalty Kill 

When you have a player sitting in the penalty box, the odds are stacked against you. So, you need to make sure that your players keep structure and hold off the opposition. 

Passive Box: Your four players establish a tight box in front of the net and up the slot, ready to block shots and poke the puck away when carriers get close. 

Large Box: A much more expansive version of the Passive Box, a Large Box aims to stop passes close to the blueline while closing in on players near the goal. 

Diamond: Taking the form of a medium box but askew so that it looks like a diamond, this strategy has the wings covered, one player in front of the goal to stop the pass across the crease, and another player closing down the point. 

Powerplay 

With the player-advantage, you’ll be looking to capitalize on your foe’s mistake of fouling one of your players. Here, you’ll need to be able to circulate the puck to create strong goal scoring opportunities. 

Shooting: This powerplay strategy is all about moving the puck quickly and firing it on the net. There’s minimal slot congestion with just one screening the goaltender while two players will set up in the circles and the other two starting on the blueline but pinching forward to make plays. 

Overload: If you’ve got a powerplay unit full of elite-level stick-handlers, this strategy gives them each plenty of space to maneuver up the ice and have plenty of attempts on goal.

Umbrella: Your skaters will set up with one either side of the goal, one at the top of each faceoff circle, and another at the point. With this strategy, you can circulate the puck out wide while primarily looking to get the puck back to the point for one-timers. 

PP Carry/Dump slider

Ranging from zero to ten, this slider dictate’s your team’s tendency to either carry the puck back into the offensive zone during the powerplay or to dump and chase the puck back up the ice. At zero, your powerplay unit will carry the puck far more often than not, while a ten on the slider means that your team will almost always dump the puck in the offensive zone and chase it up while on the powerplay. 

Control Breakout

When you pick up the puck in the defensive zone, often behind your net, your control breakout strategy will dictate the formation in which your team skates to break into the neutral zone and offensive zone. So, in turn, it will decide what passing options you have when escaping your zone. 

Blue to Blue: One skater sets up on your defensive blueline while another sits on the offensive blueline, presenting themselves as options on the breakout. When these players are in place, the defenseman will move the puck out of the defensive end.

Three High: Your players will move in a split trio towards the offensive blueline, with one on the right, one up the middle, and one on the left. The idea is to pass the puck to one of them while they’re skating towards the offensive zone to trigger a speedy breakout. 

Strong Side Slant: With your defenseman on the puck behind the net, your center will swing with the puck carrier behind the net and up the neutral zone while the right wing will come across to the side that you’re carrying the puck for added support. 

Power Play Breakout

These strategies influence how your players set up when you retrieve the puck in the defensive end while on the powerplay. 

Single Swing: When you pick up the puck behind the goal, a defenseman and you center will swing around while you carry the puck up the ice, with the other players situated at either end of the blueline. 

Five Back: This strategy does exactly what it says on the tin as all five of your skaters track back and then push forward together as a unit, giving plenty of passing options. 

Carry Option: When you track back to get the puck, you carry up the ice and into the offensive zone. Your other players will spread out as though looking for the pass but know that they won’t receive the puck until you’ve skated past the offensive blueline. 

Quick Breakout

The quick breakout strategies decide how your players react to you winning back the puck in your defensive end, making moves to become available to receive the puck and push the offense. 

Leave Zone Early: The winger furthest away from the turnover will immediately sprint into the neutral zone to become a quick option for the pass. 

Close Support: Almost the exact opposite of the Leave Zone Early strategy as the weak side winger will move towards the puck to offer a short, quick passing option on the breakout. 

Stay Wide: Like Leave Zone Early, the weak side wing will look to break into the offensive zone as a passing option, but they won’t do it so early that it puts your team at a disadvantage if you lose the puck quickly. 

3 on 3 Offence

Unless you and your opponent go on a well-timed foul-frenzy, this strategy will mostly only apply to how your team aims to play during the three-on-three overtime period. 

Passive: Your skaters are more cautious with their passing and moving up towards the offensive zone, with a focus on stopping the opposition from having a chance than creating one for your team. 

Standard: A mixture of Passive and Aggressive with players being fairly neutral towards making risky plays that could result in a goal or being very safe on the puck.

Aggressive: Your skaters push for the game-winning goal, daring to be a bit riskier to score. 

NHL 19 Forward Line and Defensive Pairing strategies

By holding LT or L2, you can change the strategies employed by each of your four forward lines and three defensive pairings. These allow you to create highly offensive lines, defensive lines, checking lines, or something in between to allow you to make the most of your skaters’ best skills. 

In each forward line set up, you will be able to select between Overload, Behind the Net, and Crash the Net.

Overload: Detailed as best suited for skilled players, and has your skaters spread out to create more space for their speed and puck skills to be used to maximum effect. 

Behind the Net: This strategy sets up in the offensive end with one of your players behind the net to try and make the most of the goalie’s blind spot. Quick passing and use of the player behind the net is key to this strategy. 

Crash the Net: Two players surge towards the net to tussle with opposition defensemen, create a screen, and try to deflect shots into the net.

After the primary strategy, you can select sliders from zero to ten to dictate the playstyle that your team will lean towards. 

Carry/Dump: Carrying the puck into the offensive zone or dumping the puck into the offensive zone. 

Cycle/Shoot: Cycling the puck to create better scoring opportunities or shooting whenever an opportunity presents itself. 

Efficiency/Energy: Conserve energy by hustling less or going all-out whenever on the ice. 

Don’t Block/Block: Deciding to get into shooting lanes when in the defensive end or trying to block every shot by setting up closer to the net.

In each defensive pairing set up, you can change two sliders to decide how aggressive your defensemen are and how often they’ll go for goal. 

The Hold Line/Pinch slider, ranging from zero to ten, determines the tendency of your defensemen to either hold up at the blueline with a defense-first mentality or if they’ll opt to push up and pinch to help you make plays. 

The Cycle/Shoot slider, ranging from zero to ten, decides how your defensemen play along the blueline when you have the puck in the offensive end. With the slider on a lower number, your defensemen will lean towards playing a pass to get another player a shooting opportunity by standing closer to the boards. A higher number on the slider will give your defensemen a shoot-first mentality and shift them closer to the middle of the ice and towards the slot, to give them a better shooting angle from the blueline. 

The best team strategies on NHL 19

Overall, the best team strategies are those that play to your skaters’ strengths and minimize their weaknesses. For example, you wouldn’t want to use the Overload strategies if your team is lacking in highly skilled players. But, for good offensive rhythm, a pestering tendency to close down the puck, and having the opportunity to breakaway for strong scoring opportunities, the setup below will help you to achieve this. The Leave Zone Early quick breakout strategy is a bit risky and mostly employed by less skillful players looking for quick and easy goals at the expense of their defense, so Stay Wide may be the preferred option for many.

As for your forward line and defensive pairing strategies, be sure to create a balance throughout your team with lines made up of similarly skilled players so that you can create varied lines in preparation for the many different situations that you may find yourself in, such as seeking a goal, needing to defend a lead, or stopping opposition momentum.  

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