"Ovy, I'm gonna need you to get your ass out of your head."

I got a note from a friend of my previous blog today that I thought brought up a fun topic – when you go to a new team, how do you figure out all the new drills in practice?

Every team and coach has their standard, favourite drills that they execute with regularity – to simplify, coaches often give them “code names” (and you know how great hockey players are with nicknames, eh “Smitty’s” of the world? It’s just about as clever with drills).

Usually, these names come from where the drill originated, or are assigned the name of a team that does them a lot, or are named by reading the collar of a random dog then assigning the drill his arbitrary name. Who knows?

The note went as such:

I skate at the Cap’s practice facility, and the other day their “Practice Line-Up/Drills” sheet was left taped to the wall.  Can you tell me what any of these mean?

Winnipeg BO
Blkhwk wrmpup
Tom Watt 41
2-2 Hi Low

The last two I think I have, but the first few…I’m terribly curious.

First off, that’s like a 40 minute practice, tops, so it’s a glorious thing to see when you come to the rink. And actually, besides the dreaded, hauntingly vauge “Conditioning” warning, it looks like a relatively painless day from what I can tell.

I can’t crack the Capitals pre-season practice code entirely, so here’s me swinging at a pitch just outside the zone:

Warning: pic may not be from this season.

Winnipeg BO – While it’s tempting to make a lazy joke about Winnipeg and BO, we all know it’s far too cold there for anyone to sweat. (Ha, yessssss, got a shot in anyway.) BO means breakout. My guess is the Caps don’t have Winnipeg’s systems dialed in this early in the year with a new coach, so it’s probably a throwback to whatever the original Jets used, which means it’s something simple. You know, cause in the early 90′s the game plan was essentially ”have better players, have them beat the other team.”

Blkhwk wrmpup – If you’re not sure what that is, you’re probably horrific at hangman and worse and Wheel of Fortune. I have no idea what the Blackhawk warmup is or why someone wedged an extra p in the word “warm-up,” but like I said – most classic drills are named after the place the coach first learned them. Hell, Pee-Wees do the “St. Louie” drill. God knows what year that one earned it’s name.

BONZ flow – This is a flow drill (I’m like the Hardy Boys), that goes from the breakout to the neutral zone, which in my estimation is the most common variety of mid-practice drill around. “Flow” implies they aren’t blowing the whistle to stop and start new guys, so here’s my best guess: They’re probably working on their breakout, while another line is in the neutral zone working on their neutral zone defence. Once they break it out (sometimes it takes many tries), there’ll be a dump in (and a change), and the line that was on D will go back and break out the puck, while another line comes out and waits in the neutral zone. It “flows” like that.

Tom Watt 41 – …Tom WattTF is this drill? I have no idea. Often guys who create a drill get their name attached to it, like the Perry Pearn’s 3-on-3 or the Peter Zezel bag skate, so clearly Tom had a hand in this (a quick Google search reveals Tom Watt won the Jack Adams in ’82, must be a good drill). 41 implies four men up and one back, which is something roughly zero coaches use in North America. Maybe they’re working on pressing when they’re down, or maybe THE CAPITALS ARE GOING FOR BROKE this season.

Pics like this make me appreciate being a blogger.

NZFC – Neutral zone forecheck. Just working on creating pressure before your opponent can reach the red line and get the puck in deep, while not allowing them to “get numbers” if they do get the puck into your zone.

And then, all hell breaks loose. Conditioning AKA the bag skate (could be anything), followed by high-low 2-on-2. The order of those drills is brutal, but it makes the players (the defensive ones especially) still have to work and think when they’re tired. It’s just 2-on-2 play originating from either high or low in the zone, but when your legs are like jelly, your brain tends to miss things.

From the 1st place team to the 30th, the only things that change much are the names of the drills, and as you can see, there are a few key letters (NZ, BO) that can make things easy on a guy when you suddenly find yourself with a new squad. That, and repeatedly going to the back of the line.

And if you’re not the type of guy who can put together the combinations of those letters from team to team, well…. congratulations. You might be worthy of the self-explanatory label: “Drill Wrecker.” And nobody wants that.