Wednesday, September 12, 2012
As I sat in the locker room half dressed, hearing the Zamboni starting to resurface the ice, I felt myself tapping on my pants. I thought about all of the factors that were going to impact my performance as well as how I felt at the time. I leaned over to the guy sitting on my left and said, "I'm going to have a really good game tonight."
I was really unfamiliar with my line mates. One had never played forward before, and the other I didn't know his tendencies, or how he plays. I knew their skill levels, speeds and strengths from when they play defense, but positioning was a big concern of mine. I was playing center, as I really want to be an experienced option in the middle come winter time.
The entire night, I felt that I was skating faster the Sharks' entire defense. I can't tell you how many times a shark player had 10 feet on me to a loose puck, and yet I was still able to either get the puck or tie up the opponent. What I did from there wasn't as great. Either I'd drop the puck, or get my skate cut in a rut, or the puck would be in a puddle of water and not move. It is something that everyone deals with and I just have to get used to it.
In the defensive zone, I felt a bit lost though. I felt like the forwards were bunching up on each other. I felt that when the defenceman would go and cover someone, that I had to come lower and cover for him. It is a positioning aspect that I need to learn to get better with. Feeling more comfortable, and more prepared for pucks to come through the slot and deflect them out of the zone.
I do think I back checked fairly well. At one point in the game, I had done a great job tying up one of their top players on the rush. I put my stick over his and it was strange in that I almost felt like I could impact where he was going to go. Once he realized that I was doing that and he was skating under my guidance, he tried to turn, but then he just fell flat on his face. There was another time where I was covering for a d-man who pinched. The puck carrier beat me, but I was able to turn, and grab his arm to slow him down. I figure if I can slow down players a bit, it throws them off their game and gives my goalie a better chance at seeing the puck. I know how it impacts me. I did take a tripping penalty on a back check. It was a definite penalty, but I didn't want to give up a chance as I thought the d-man was beat.
I had a few good shots. One went off his blocker on the rush. Another chance I had I was on a two on two rush. The other winger was able to slide it over to me on the rush. I picked up from my side, settled it down and got it in front of me. I shot through the two defencemen, and tried to fire it through his five hole, but he was able to kick it out. There was a really good stuff attempt right from the goal line where a winger and I tried to hammer it home all alone, but we could not lift the puck over his leg pad. We were in too close and eventually the goalie froze it. I had another great chance where the goalie was out of his crease, but I had the puck behind the goal line. I made a great pass past the goalie to the winger who was standing on the top of the crease, but he wasn't ready. It went through his legs, and he immediately got tied up before he could kick it to his stick.
We would end up losing in OT. It wasn't a good feeling, but I had a hell of a fun time out there tonight. I do think there are a few things I need to work on. The positioning and puck handling were the weak points of my game today, but I don't feel they were that weak. I do think that my energy and passing were very good though.