May 14, 2018

Smile On My Face

I've been struggling in net since returning from an overseas vacation and even before, this season hasn't gone the way I expected.

Part of it is fatigue and lack of focus on my part– we rolled directly into a new season while still finishing off the previous one while the Puck Hawgs changed rinks. We also have a lot of new faces on the roster and it takes time to rebuild the chemistry our team had for many seasons before. I was feeling pretty down about my game and as expected, that showed on the ice– a self fulfilling prophecy of sorts.

Last week we went into the game sitting mid-pack in our division with a 4-2 record which doesn't sound all that bad but I know that both those losses were partly because of my poor play. It's funny how many bad bounces and redirected pucks find their way into the net when you aren't feeling good about your game.

But last Friday was different. Lifted up by the return of one of our all-time best players and a full bench of players, my mood was sunny and I seemed to forget the tired legs, sore groin and grumpy disposition. I felt strong and mobile and was tracking the puck better than I have in a long time. Wouldn't you know it? I played like I belonged out there.

Skating out on some teams highlights the difference to me between goalies and other positions. When I have a bad night skating out it means I might not score or my passes are off line but there's a dozen or so other players out there to cover up my mistakes. When I play in net and I have a bad game, it often means the difference between a win and a loss.

The struggle with confidence and a positive attitude is real for this goalie but somehow I've got to remember how much it can mean to my play and the outcome of a game.

March 27, 2018

Two Sides to Every Break Away

One of the most read entries of this blog was my post from September of 2013 titled, "The Break Away". In it I tried to describe the action and what goes on in my head as the play happens.

In a game last week I somehow managed to stop a break away and I was curious what the shooter was thinking while I'm in a state of panic and reaction. I reached out to the opposing player and he was nice enough to indulge me. Thank you to Gary "Gino" Lassen of the Brew Crew.

AN: Midway through the second period and the game was still in the balance when a bad shift change left our blue line wide open in the middle. I spotted one of their fastest forwards pick up the puck and head towards my net. In a flash he was across the blue line and into our zone.

Gino: I don’t exactly remember how I picked up the break away, I think someone had sauced a pass up the middle as one of your defenseman pinched on the wall? Not too sure.

AN: This play, like many break aways didn't develop in a way that let's me analyze the threat and set up with options. When a break away happens like this I barely have time to get moving towards the shooter and start trying to pick up anything I can use to make a save.

Gino: My initial thought was to shoot. First instinct was top right, I already had the puck on my forehand (right handed) and I thought I could clear it.

AN: I saw him carrying the puck right-handed to my glove side which made me a little more confident. I saw that he was coming in head-on which cut down the options I had to cover. I was pretty sure he was going to shoot because of how fast he was heading to the net.

Gino: As I saw you square up, I decided at the last minute that I'd shoot down low, seeing as you had the top covered. It was too late for a deke and I had too much speed to try, I would have lost the puck.

AN: That left me guessing it was going to be a glove side shot and that's what I decided to play. Or else it was going to be a blocker side shot, or five-hole, or a deke. You see the problem.

He shot quickly and I dropped to the butterfly just as quickly but kept my gloves forward and high. I didn't really track the puck well at all but felt it hit some part of my glove and then I had no idea where it was. I looked down and saw the puck sitting between my pads like a chick in a nest and knew I'd made the save.

Gino: If I had that same opportunity, I don't think much would change. It would be up to chance again. That kind of opportunity with that speed and little amount of time, I’d more than likely always try to shoot it and a solid goalie will see that and be able to shut it down.

I think that this two-sided narrative in different scenarios including saves and goals is fascinating and I will try to get other players to contribute when I can coax them into the spotlight.

Thanks again to Gino for his help with the entry.