In the defensive zone, centers are known as the "third defenseman". Center-men have the responsibility of supporting the defensemen by battling in the slot, the front of the net, behind the net and in the corners. The center should be in constant communication with his defensemen to make sure that the opposing team's forwards are covered and neutralized. As the attacking forwards cycle and move the puck around, the center and two defensemen should be working together to break up the flow of the attack. If one of the defensemen is beaten in a battle then the center-man needs to be ready to switch coverage with him and defend against the man who broke free.
Communication is one of the most important skills that a hockey player possesses. Center-men are relied upon to keep their line-mates aware of the opposing team's attack as each play develops. Put simply, the center-man patrols the defensive zone from the end boards to the top of the circles, calling the shots and supporting the defensemen as they battle for the puck.