EVERY Play is Critical
One of my favorite athletic sayings is, “Every play could decide the outcome of the game” – meaning that a goal scored against or for one’s team could have begun to be formed at any time through any skater’s physical omission or because of any positive physical action many seconds before the actual goal is tallied. Since many games are decided by a single goal, one can discern that the outcome of any game is potentially decided by every skater on the ice (sometimes off) during every second of the contest.
The following are only several of many examples that could be cited to illustrate my contention: a) a forechecker does not extend his stick enough to block a pass from one opponent to another as the rivals break out of their defensive zone. The puck is then worked up the ice for an eventual goal; b) a player on the bench fails to watch the action and does not change immediately with his teammate coming off the ice. As a result, this player emerging from the bench is one step short of intercepting a pass. The opposition consequently retains control and later scores a goal before losing possession; c) a forward fails to sprint to the net as his teammate shoots and, therefore, cannot deposit the rebound into a wide open goal. Instead, the opposition moves the puck up the ice and scores thirty seconds later. This is actually a two-goal swing; d) after a lost defensive faceoff, a winger does not properly move to cover his assignment, and the opponent is able to unleash a clear shot on net which directly enters the goal, perhaps because the goalie was screened by someone whom another player did not adequately block or “box out”; e) a player does not instantly turn and fully properly backcheck when his team loses possession of the puck and the rivals transition to the attack; an opponent then makes a productive pass in his offensive zone or is able to launch a shot for a goal because the backchecker was not there as he could have been to interfere with the pass or to control the shooter's stick.
No one can ever be certain of the play or misplay from which a goal may directly or indirectly emanate. Therefore, consistent supreme effort and alertness are an absolute necessity and requirement of any player who wishes to be labeled correctly as “the best” and one who never “takes off a play.” How many athletes have you encountered who play accordingly?