Disclaimer: Screenshots are from NHL 16 and information is based off of NHL 17 beta. I will update this within a week or two of the official release with any changes that I notice.
While skating looks pretty straight forward far as just moving your player around goes, it is definitely a much more complex system than it seems. If you can master NHL 17’s movement/skating you will have a very clear advantage over your opponents.
First off, I’ll just mention the basic controls, which you likely already know:
How to move your player: The left analog stick controls your players skating. Point it in the direction you want to go.
Speed burst: Press down the analog stick(L3) to use speed burst. Keep in mind that this will drain your players energy much quicker.
Okay lets get into the fun stuff. Again, some of this you may already be familiar with in which case you can jump to any section you like using the table of contents to the right.
Vision control makes your player always face the puck. Especially useful when getting ready for a one-timer, positioning for a tip in, or defending.
How to: With or without the puck, hold down LT for Xbox One or L2 on Ps4.
When to: As mentioned above, there are 3 situations where it especially comes in handy. We’ll cover each in more detail below.
One-timer: When your buddy has the puck looking to pass and you’re setting up for a one-timer you of course need to be facing the puck. Hold down vision control then pull back on the right analog stick to wind up the shot and you will be ready to rip it!
Tip: If you hold vision control and wind up for a slapshot while the AI is carrying the puck they will immediately pass it to you for a one-timer. Make sure no one is blocking the passing lane, they will pass it no matter what.
Positioning for a tip in: Holding vision control is almost a MUST when trying to tip the puck in front of the net. It drastically increases your chances of a successful tip. If your player isn’t facing the puck then it’s very unlikely he’ll even try to tip it.
The first two situations(one-timer and tip-in) are only relevant when playing with another human player on the same team or if your player is position locked since otherwise you will always be automatically switched to the puck carrier.
Defending: When your opponent is on the rush you can manually control when you turn around by using vision control. Also, when defending inside your zone you can hold vision control to get a better angle on your opponent and keep them to the outside
***I highly recommend turning OFF auto back skate in your game settings so you have full control over which way your player is facing. I find auto back skate kicks in too early when defending and your opponent will just burn past you before you can get a good angle.
If you’re looking for more defensive tips then check out my NHL 17 Defense Guide.
A quick sharp turn to the left or right.
How to: While gliding with speed, pull both analogs to the left or right depending which way you want to cut.
When to: Great for getting around defenders after entering the offensive zone with speed. Be careful they aren’t expecting it otherwise you’ll be cutting your way right into a conky.
360 Degree Spin
Perform a 360 degree spin while carrying the puck.
How to: While carrying the puck, tap the vision control button or if you hold your stick out to your backhand then tap vision control you will do a spin the opposite direction.
When to: I mostly use it when entering the offensive zone, if the defender is closing the gap along the boards on me in preparation for a hit then I’ll spin out of it. Spinning out of the corners can be effective as well, be creative with it!
Spin around while carrying the puck and keeping your momentum going up the ice.
How to: While carrying the puck, hold down vision control. You’ll maintain possession of the puck – depending on your players puck control attribute – and turn around so your now skating up the ice backwards. Let go of vision control to spin back around.
When to: Most effective when entering the opponent’s zone to keep the puck away from defender poke checks. If you get the right angle then when you spin back around you can sometimes get right around the defensemen for a great scoring chance.
Useful whenever there is a defender in front of you that you want to keep the puck away from. Be careful though, if they are coming at you with speed they can still knock you off the puck with a hit.
Protect The Puck
Hold the puck off to one side and use your body to protect it while continuing your momentum forward.
How to: While carrying the puck, hold “A” if on Xbox or “X” if on Playstation.
When to: Best used after entering the opposing zone with speed and going wide around the defensemen. They will try to pokecheck or hit you, which will be more difficult if you’re protecting the puck. You may be able to get around them for a chance on net or at least draw a penalty.
Along the boards is another great place to use this as it increases your players balance and makes them more difficult to knock off the puck. It might be enough extra balance for you to squeeze by the defensemen… or you might just get crushed… but hey that’s hockey!
Exactly as the name suggests, pick up some speed then stop skating and just glide. Now this one might sound so basic it’s ridiculous to even bring up, but there are two very important benefits of the glide.
- Agility: You will notice that while gliding you can make much more sudden and sharp turns. It’s a lot easier to control your player in general.
- Accuracy: Gliding increases shot accuracy versus shooting in stride.
How to: Let go of the left analog stick so it sits in it’s default position. Assuming you already had some forward momentum this will put you into a glide.
When to: Now the important part! This can be very effective in the neutral zone while entering the offensive zone and also right before you shoot.
If you’re in a glide and their defenders are coming in for the hit, it’s very easy to dodge it with your increased agility.
Many aren’t aware that skating/speed actually have an affect on the accuracy of your shot. You’ve probably noticed that when you take a shot at full speed it is not very accurate. Or you’ve shot it and then said something along the lines of… “wtf!?!? I wasn’t aiming there!“. If you let your player go into a glide and then shoot, it will be much more accurate. Have you ever asked yourself how skilled players seem to score way more often on simple looking shots? It’s not only knowing the spots to shoot from, but also making sure you aren’t in stride while you shoot.
Knowing how and when to use these techniques is one thing but actually doing them at game speed is another story. So get practicing!
If you are brand new to the game then I recommend first going into a free skate just to get familiar with the feel of using the above controls. Then take it into some games. Soon it will become natural. I’ll be working on some more in-depth posts regarding advanced skating techniques/strategies in the weeks following NHL 17’s official release. Subscribe below to be notified when they are posted.
If you feel I missed something or just want to request a topic for the next post then leave it in the comments 🙂