The defense in hockey is a position in which players are protecting the net from the opposing team scoring the puck in.
During a game, there are two defense players: the left defenseman and the right defenseman. The two defensemen guard their respective sides of the ice rink, but they work together as the overall objective of their position is to stop the puck from being scored into the net.
It is important for defensemen to have a great understanding of various hockey plays to see what play the opposing team might be playing in order to anticipate where the puck will be. Defensemen are also great at passing as they do this often to get the puck away from the defensive zone, known as a breakout pass. These players also must have a constant eye on where the puck is, and block it aggressively when needed. It is also not uncommon for defensemen to try and shoot the puck into their opponent's net from much farther away when the opportunity is available.
A popular defensive strategy is hockey is the neutral zone trap, otherwise known simply as the trap. The neutral zone trap is executed well when the defensemen move towards the neutral, center area of the rink, making it much harder for the opposing offensive players to get the puck up the ice. The result of this added pressure on the opposing offensive players usually results in having the puck tucked over to the other team. This strategy was put in the spotlight in the early 1990's from the New Jersey Devils.
Another defensive strategy is the left wing lock. The left wing lock is a similar strategy as the neutral zone trap in putting more pressure on the opposing offensive team, however, the left wing lock utilizes the offensive left winger to retreat back and act as a third defensemen. The goal of this strategy is to also have the puck turn over and win possession.
The primary objective of the defense position in hockey is to prevent the opposing team from scoring in the net. This is done by blocking the puck when an opponent shoots, or coming into contact with the opponent and aggressively forechecking the puck so it lands on the ice, open for another player to take possession.
During a game, there are only two defensemen out on the ice rink. However, most NHL teams will have three pairs of defensemen on their dressed roster, which means that teams have six defensemen ready to play for a game. This is done in case one defenseman is injured during a game, and must be taken out of the game for safety reasons. This enables the coach to substitute the injured player for another defenseman immediately.
The best defenseman as of the 2019-2020 season is John Carlson of the Washington Capitals. In his 69 games played this season, he had a total of 75 points, the highest of all of the defensemen this season. Carlson was averaging 1.09 points per game, an extraordinary feat for a defensemen. Because of Carlson's talent and ability, he was awarded the Norris Trophy this year for his overall abilities as a defensemen on the ice.