I went into this Piranhas game pumped and ready to go. The team needed a win, it was a beatable team, and the one team I've played against more than any other over the past 2 years.
It turned out to be probably the best game I've played. I felt a step quicker than 90% of the players on the ice. I felt I could see plays developing and knowing where to be. What also helps is I'm playing with players who are similarly skilled, and I'm learning their tendencies. There is no star player on the team, and as I play with them more and more, I feel comfortable with them.
My passing I think was outstanding. There were a few times where I put the puck right on the tape of my line mates. There was one or two brilliant passes on a rush where I read the defender and was able to patiently wait and go through him while he was off balance. Unfortunately, line mates couldn't convert, but they were great chances. There was also one penalty kill for probably 45 seconds we kept the puck in their zone with just good passing and puck control. I think that's one area that showed in my game last night that I never have, and that is patience and control with the puck. Too often, I panic, or worry that I'm going to lose it so I just throw it away. Not the best move. Last night was a different story. I was able to go into traffic a little bit and generate scoring chances.
I had three or four outstanding scoring chances, but only converted on one. And they were all very similar. One pass to me went right through the crease, I caught it and because of the speed, I had to just fire it as hard as I could at the net before the goalie got over. The goalie made a solid glove save and denied me. The next chance came on a 2 on 1, with me as the trailer. My teammate shot it, it hit the goalies pads, and left a big rebound. Unfortunately, I couldn't get a stick on it to put it into a wide open net. The third chance was me at the half boards. I had the puck with really no solid passing options for the forwards so I just launched it at the goalie. The defensemen froze, I went around, picked up the rebound and put it into the net. Later on in the third, I'd have a wrap around chance, but it was kind of tough for me because I was on my backhand, and there were a lot of bodies and sticks right in front. It almost went in, but the chances of it going in were better than if I were to pass it off.
My fore-check I think really caused a lot of problems for the defensemen. Their forwards were not moving at all, and it really caused a lot of turnovers and scoring chances for us. I'm probably the most aggressive at fore checking of anyone I've played with for a variety of reasons. The biggest being at this level, players will rush stupid passes. I also believe that the momentum that I build up from skating will help me back check a lot quicker than others.
I've got to get better in two areas though. Along the boards, and my balance. I felt that a lot of times, especially if I was playing right wing, when the d-man would throw the puck up the boards that It would go right past me and I couldn't gain control. That means I don't get any control on the puck, and worse, we don't clear the zone. Balance - I skate as hard as I can but once someone just gives me a little tap, I have a hard time compensating for that force and end up off balance and out of control for a second or two. It happened more than once last night. I've seen that over the past few games, that nearly everyone is bigger than me, making it a lot easier for them against me, so balance would go far.
Even though I played well, and had a goal, I'm pissed off we lost. I hate losing to that team, and I want the Piranhas to get a victory. I think it would really help the mentality of the team.