Strategy Guide
NHL 10: Improving Your On-The-Fly Coaching

Raise your hand if you have ever cursed out an AI teammate in a video game.

*All hands go up*

Keep that hand raised if you have ever cursed out an AI teammate in NHL 10.

*Most hands stay up*

For as much fun as NHL 10 can be, there is nothing more frustrating than watching your AI teammates commit dumb mistakes that lead to easy goals for the other team.

And for gamers not familiar with EA's NHL series or hockey in general, keeping those AI teammates on track can be completely mystifying since the game lacks any sort of tutorial that explains how to manage the on-the-fly coaching options mapped to the D-pad.

So for everyone out there who has no idea what a forecheck is or what separates a 1-2-2 High from a 1-2-2 Low, here is a guide that will help you get the most out of your AI teammates in NHL 10.

Forechecking Strategies

For those new to hockey, "forechecking" is a term used to describe a defender's pursuit of the puck into the opposing offense’s zone.

A forecheck usually consists of one or two forwards pushing ahead into the enemy zone while attempting to disrupt the other team’s offensive rush and ultimately cause a turnover.

Like a basketball press, there are varying degrees of pressure that a forechecking unit can apply.

Here are descriptions and diagrams for the five supported forechecking styles in NHL 10, which can be accessed by pressing up on the D-pad:

1-2-2 High – Most passive forecheck with emphasis on plugging up the neutral zone.

2-1-2 High – Passive forecheck designed to disrupt the rush at the opponent's blue line.

1-2-2 Low – Aggressive forecheck with center playing in deep and wingers covering the boards.

2-1-2 Low – Aggressive forecheck with wingers in deep and center guarding the blue line.

3-2 – Most aggressive forecheck with all three forwards in deep and both defenders pinching in.

Defensive Strategies

If the opposing team manages to break through your forecheck and cross into the offensive zone, your AI players will need to be told how to carry out your team's defensive attack.

Here is everything you need to know about each of NHL 10's on-the-fly defensive styles, which are available by pressing left on the D-pad:

Tight Point

Description: Your forwards rotate to make sure that two defenders are always locked onto the point; the third forward drops back to protect the slot while your two defensemen set up down low in the crease.

Con: Weak coverage along the boards.


Description: All three forwards fall back to protect the slot, while defensemen clear out the crease with body checks.

Con: Perimeter shots are left open.


Description: All strong-side defenders play man defense while the weak-side defenseman protects the crease and the weak-side winger protects the high slot.

Con: Weak side of the ice is susceptible to overloads.

Defensive-Pressure Settings

The final thing a NHL 10 coach needs to be aware of is the five defensive-pressure settings that tell your AI players just how aggressively they should be pursuing the puck, both on the forecheck and on the defensive end of the ice.

Generally, coaches will want to up the pressure when their team is down late in the game or lay back a bit when the game is already in hand and simply needs to be stalled out.

Here are NHL 10's on-the-fly pressure settings -- found by pressing down on the D-pad -- listed from most conservative to most aggressive:

Protect Net

All five players collapse into the defensive zone, hesitant to pursue the puck past center ice.

Contain Puck

Your players pursue the puck carrier all over the ice but will position themselves a few strides in front of the puck.


Your defensemen play conservative zone defense at the back while the forwards engage the opposing rush with normal man-to-man defense.

Puck-Side Attack

Weak-side defenders drop off into zone defense while strong-side defenders attack the puck aggressively.

High Pressure

All five players attack the puck aggressively and swarm the strong side of the ice.

With a proper understanding of these on-the-fly coaching strategies, players should be able to take full command of their AI teammates in NHL 10 and adjust their playing style according to the game situation as well as the opposing team's strengths/weaknesses.

Good luck to all NHL 10 coaches, and as always, see you on the ice.

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Member Comments
# 1 Sherman91587 @ 02/17/10 03:16 PM
Good stuff man.... I always fix this up before game and change it round if I give up a bad breakaway or something. Didnt know 100 percent what the pressures meant tho so its good to have the details.
# 2 carlmac @ 02/17/10 03:40 PM
Thanks man, i am gonna go and practice, getting in and out of these forechecks and pressures so i can apply them in game situations, this is gonna make me dangerous
thanks again
# 3 Vikes1 @ 02/17/10 05:10 PM
Very good read.

Good to get a better understanding of how these different strategies make the AI players behave.
# 4 Borgskier @ 02/17/10 05:27 PM
I nominate Jayson for Commisioner.
Thanks for educating us and giving us new things to try!
# 5 tazbk @ 02/17/10 05:38 PM
Good analysis, just gave me some extra hockey knowledge there. Been playing NHL 10 like crazy the past couple weeks to get me to baseball season.
# 6 savoie2006 @ 02/17/10 07:01 PM
These kind of things need to either be in the game as a tutorial or in the manual. It's awesome that OS posts these.
# 7 BigBadJon @ 02/17/10 11:47 PM
PERFECT, Thanks.
# 8 Fiddy @ 02/18/10 09:31 AM
its funny when i play guys, that have played this game for 2 years plus and still dont know to adjust strats. they say it doesnt help etc.

it sure does help out. depending on who i play in my leagues, i adjust my strats to there game. some games i put a ton of pressure, others i sit back and wait for a mistake.

one thing you need to make note of, that when playing online the only way to change strats and have them stick during the game is using the d-pad on the fly. if you make strat changes at edit lines screen or from pause menu they dont stick at all. this has been that way for past 2 years. hopefully ea fixes this next year!!
# 9 JayhawkerStL @ 02/18/10 12:42 PM
I've been checking out OS for a number of years, but lose interest as the signal to noise ratio becomes unbearable. I just want to mention that Jayson Young is one of the contributors that keep me coming back.

My experience with the game improved dramatically when I began using strats with the D-Pad in game. One thing to pay attention to is the commentary, as they will clue you in to when a change is needed. When they complain that the slot or point is no longer available, you know the AI defense is using a corresponding defensive strat and pressure.

Likewise, they talk about the slot or point being open for the other team, it is a clue you need to switch up. In time, you will recognize when this is happening and make the switches before being called out. Then you get the reward of the commentators pointing out that the other team keeps trying something that is no longer available.

Sometimes, as I read complaints about the AI getting easy goals, or catch-up logic, I have to believe these guys are not making adjustments. And in online play, altering your strategy can have dramatic effects. Too many players role with whatever they have set-up to begin the game.

I would love to read even more in-depth discussion of strategies that affect gameplay in NHL 10. Things like what kinds of players to place on different lines, and how to evaluate what kind of offense is good for different types of player would be great.

I just started getting into real hockey a year or so ago, and Jayson's articles on how to play defense in BAP really increased my enjoyment of hockey on TV. NHL 10 is probably the best game for actually teaching a sport that I have played.
# 10 Hack22 @ 02/19/10 11:05 PM
seems like the only forcheck that works is the 3-2. Everything else just has the players retreat to the blueline.

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