Archive for the ‘Rec Hockey’ Category

2013 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Three

With the return of summer, so returns “Rec Hockey Tips.” You can read more of them by clicking on that category, or checking out specifics like forwards coming back to the puck, communication, proper slapshots, blowout etiquette and five sneaky in-game tricks.

***

You can’t score unless you have the puck, so everyone knows you have to have the puck, only…not everyone seems aware of what actually “getting possession of the puck” means. “Possession” in hockey, to me, indicates that you’re in a position to dictate what happens with the puck next, if only for a jiffy. Possession is good.

Instead, some rec leaguers only seem aware of the fact that you should get somewhere you can get the puck in theory. Players get open for passes, they get in positions to forecheck, they do many, many right things. Until you pass it to them, or it comes loose in a scrum, or it is delivered to them on a silver platter. Then it all goes to hell.

Handle it, as you so often hear at the higher levels. Just handle it.

Easier said than done maybe, but that’s where going to work to get better comes in. Everyone needs to work on something.

All due respect to rec hockey players who play once a week or so here – it’s hard to be consistently sharp in your semi-occasional outing, and we all make mistakes. It’s kind of like not golfing often – you lose your short game, your hands, first. So listen to me: if you ever get the chance to practice, have someone stand at center facing the boards, and you skate from blueline to blueline while they lob grenades at you. (That’s hockey terminology for bad passes, of course. Lobbing actual grenades would make for a short training session.) Hell, you can do laps around them and have them throw butterflying sauce passes at your ankles while you work on getting them up to your stick blade as quick as possible. Read the rest of this entry »

Pittsburgh Penguins v New York Rangers

Today Patrick Kearns, a New York correspondent for The Fourth Period magazine, tweeted a simple quote from Mark Staal about playing with Dan Girardi:

Indeed.

It’s an obvious statement that shares the message coaches the world over have tried to drill through the thick skulls of players since their earliest days on the ice, yet one that seems to only get through to a select few: talk. Talk on the ice, talk, talk for the love of god. It is amazing what a difference it makes.

My college roommate shared a story with us about his junior days (we both had notoriously…aggressive, we’ll say? – junior coaches) about how he failed to call for passes too often for the coaches liking one practice, so he was made to sit in the penalty box and yell his own name on repeat.  Read the rest of this entry »

There’s some meat to the cliché “hard work beats talent if talent doesn’t work hard,” but it’s not to be taken at face value. It doesn’t always. An adorable team of eight-year-olds isn’t beating the Kings because LA isn’t trying, and less ridiculous examples happen with teams in the same league all the time. “You can’t take any nights off!” is patent coach-speak bullshit, because some teams can. Sometimes the Canucks put it in neutral, make a couple talented plays and beat the Blue Jackets who are going mach six. (Incidentally, one of the worst parts about being on a crappy team is having to go balls out to have a hope to win. It’s a grind.)

When it comes to player selection at hockey’s highest levels, minimal emphasis is put on effort. Like, minimal. Only the ridiculously skilled are good enough to make the NHL without max effort (though don’t kid yourself, some are), and even they can’t get away with not trying very often. Regardless, you take “ridiculously skilled” when it’s available. Alex Semin over Tim Jackman every day of the week, I’m sure you’d agree, and the latter out-works him by eleventy-thousand percent. Read the rest of this entry »

Most hockey people tend to get caught up on the big numbers. If a guy scores, he had a good game. If he goes pointless, he didn’t. Our performances are viewed by ourselves and others through the prism of our statistics.

However, there are some moments in a hockey game that not everyone will notice, but will make you smile. It’s a fast game, and there are plenty of little, satisfying things that can be used as mental salve when you go stat-less. Well, at least I pulled *that* off. I sort of helped. 

Below are five of my faves – feel free to tack your own on in the comments. And yes, they’re mostly dirty plays (not dangerous ones), but whatever, they happen. Read the rest of this entry »

Pic by Kelly Stover. That person's cage by...GOD what is that?

I’m writing this post-rec hockey game with my regular collection of consumables nearby – a grape G2, a bag of pepper Spitz, and a water for when I house this G2 in a second, and I’m wondering what our team could have done to make the evening go a little smoother.

Don’t get me wrong: we won by roughly a thousand. They stopped putting goals up on the board in the middle of the second period. But it wasn’t fun.

The thing is, we didn’t play a bad team, we played a team shy on warm bodies. It was playoffs, and somehow they only managed to have five guys turnout.

I know playing without a single change sounds ridiculous to people who play rec hockey in other places, but this is Phoenix rec hockey – there isn’t a huge pool of players to draw from, so it’s not all that uncommon. Our team has won with five before. But our side had eight guys, and last night was never close.

SO: What’s appropriate blowout etiquette in rec hockey? What are you supposed to do when your team is so much better than the other team and the game is just for fun? You paid to get to play hockey, sure, but you don’t want to be a dick.

Read the rest of this entry »

The slapshot is kind of hockey’s version of the slam dunk, in that it can be glamorous, exciting, and authoritative. And like the dunk, if you go for it and fail, you look pretty pathetic.

All that is a nice way of saying “If you don’t have a slapshot, please, for the love of god, don’t wind up for four seconds, then come down with your blade open in hopes of getting the puck airborne.” There’s no shame in not having a slapshot, and there’s no shame in a wrister or snapshot.

Since the dunk is off-limits for 99% of people who play the sport, they rarely have people daft enough to try, the lucky bastards. They know they’re not going to suddenly gain an additional two feet of vertical via any method of training, so they put it out of their mind.

But the slapper is right there, always tempting the rec leaguer. So, let’s discuss it, so we can stop some of you from trying, and teach the rest to improve. Read the rest of this entry »

One of the reasons I like playing rec hockey these days is that there’s no coach on the bench to berate me when I make a horrible change. You get some teams (I’m told) where that’ll piss the players off, but fortunately for me, I do not (and likely wouldn’t) play for a team that serious.

But for those teams that are, here are the important things to note about the proper line change. (Note: this is mostly directed at forwards.)

A) The Exchange Read the rest of this entry »