The left wing primarily operates on the left side of the ice and often plays alongside the center. They are responsible for both offensive and defensive duties, including scoring goals, creating chances, and supporting the defense when necessary.
Key Responsibilities for a Left Wing
Offensive Zone Presence
The left wing's main objective is to contribute to the team's offense by creating scoring opportunities and generating goals. They should be positioned in the offensive zone to receive passes from their teammates and take shots on goal.
The left wing needs to have good shooting skills and an ability to find openings in the opponent's defense. They must take shots on goal, aiming to score and create rebound opportunities for their teammates.
The left wing plays a crucial role in the forechecking system, which involves pressuring the opposing team's defensemen and disrupting their breakout plays. They need to apply pressure and try to regain possession of the puck.
When the opposing team is on the attack, the left wing needs to quickly transition into a defensive role. They should skate back into their own zone to support the defensemen and help break up plays, neutralize opponents, and prevent scoring chances.
Defensive Zone Coverage
The left wing is responsible for covering a specific area of the ice in the defensive zone. They should be aware of their defensive assignments, mark opposing players, and prevent them from getting open in scoring areas.
Along the boards, the left wing must engage in physical battles to gain possession of the puck or maintain control. They should use their body to shield the puck and win battles against opposing players.
The left wing should possess good passing skills and vision to set up their teammates for scoring opportunities. They need to be able to make accurate and timely passes to create offensive plays.
The left wing often plays a role in both the power play and penalty killing units. On the power play, they might set up in front of the net or be positioned for one-timers. While penalty killing, the left wing assists in pressuring the opposing team and blocking passing lanes.
Effective communication with teammates is crucial for successful teamwork in ice hockey. The left wing needs to communicate on the ice, calling for passes, indicating plays, and providing support to their linemates and defensemen.
Best NHL Left Wings of All Time
- Bobby Hull: Known as "The Golden Jet," Bobby Hull played for the Chicago Black Hawks (now the Chicago Blackhawks) and the Winnipeg Jets in the NHL. He was a prolific scorer and possessed one of the hardest shots in the game. Hull won the Hart Trophy twice and led the league in goal-scoring seven times. He finished his career with 610 goals in the NHL.
- Ted Lindsay: Ted Lindsay, also known as "Terrible Ted," was a key member of the Detroit Red Wings' "Production Line" in the 1950s. He was known for his intensity, physicality, and scoring ability. Lindsay won the Art Ross Trophy as the league's leading scorer in 1950, and he helped the Red Wings win four Stanley Cups during his career.
- Luc Robitaille: Luc Robitaille is the highest-scoring left wing in NHL history, with 668 goals. He played the majority of his career with the Los Angeles Kings, where he became the franchise's all-time leading scorer. Robitaille was known for his exceptional goal-scoring ability and offensive prowess, winning the Calder Trophy as the NHL's top rookie in 1987.
- Johnny Bucyk: Johnny Bucyk, nicknamed "Chief," had a remarkable career with the Boston Bruins. He played 21 seasons in the NHL, spending most of them with the Bruins. Bucyk was known for his consistency and durability, recording 20 or more goals in 17 seasons. He won two Stanley Cups with the Bruins and finished his career with 556 goals.
- Alex Ovechkin: Active in the NHL today, Alex Ovechkin has already established himself as one of the greatest left wings in history. He has consistently been one of the league's top goal-scorers, known for his incredible shot and scoring ability. Ovechkin has won the Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy as the NHL's leading goal-scorer a record nine times and has surpassed the 700-goal milestone, cementing his place among the all-time greats.