Hockey season is upon us!

Well, keeping a positive spin on tomorrow, many NHL teams open training
camp on the 11th.

It’s hard to explain to people that don’t play or really get passionate
about hockey just how much the game can mean. I never really played
until well into university, and I’ve only ever really played rec leagues
of course, but still, there is something about the game, the speed, the
elegance, the complexity, and the sponteneous nature of the game that
just brings about the closest thing I think there is to a perfect
balance in sports.

Team sports usually have superstars, and hockey is no exception, but it
is interesting that the superstars can still be brought low by a team of
hardworking people that act as a team, and this holds most obviously in
hockey. Man to man coverage is one thing, but in hockey if the team
isn’t acting in unison, the breakdown can be devastating. I play goal,
and while many think that’s more of an individual place when names like
Roy, Hasek, Tretiak, Dryden and the like come to mind, that position is
as reliant on the team as the team is on the goalie. You don’t get a 90%
save percentage facing an unending streak of 2 on 1 breaks and
breakaways. You get it by your team limiting the types of shots you
face, and by working with them to present the hardest options possible
for the opposition to score.

If you think scoring is the only exciting part of hockey, go to a live
game, where you can see more than the individual view the TV often
shows. Watch how the defending team denies whole sections of ice to
players and passes. Watch how the good defense pairs cover for each
other in offense and defense as the situation changes. Watch how the
defense keeps the shots and scoring chances limited by forcing the play
to the perimeter.

None of that requires clutch and grab hockey, which is a cop out. It
requires good positioning, good planning, and good skill. I like seeing
a good goal, I love seeing a great save, but I really deeply appreciate
the execution by the team of effective defense. The offensive excitement
is the other team solving that defense, and seeing as the sides adapt
and adjust.

Anyway….. GAME ON!!!!

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