Someone just sent me a link to Bill Simmons' Idiot's Guide to the NHL Lockout, and it's pretty funny. I didn't recognize the e-mail address of the sender (and thus almost deleted the message as spam), but if it was you, thanks!
Update: It was Derek who sent this link. Thanks, Derek!
If last Wednesday's game was an 8 for me, this Tuesday's was a 3. I felt even worse than I normally would have about it, too, since Al was there watching (and taking photos). On the plus side, knowing that it was possible to have someone (in this case, my mom) stay home with Austen while Al and I were both out at the rink made us consider something we hadn't before: Maybe both of us can play next season! Something to explore, anyway.
Regarding my suckiness in this game, of course I have a theory about it. Partly it was that I tied my skates too tight, and I couldn't feel my feet. But mostly I think it had to do with not feeling like I was part of the game/useful to the team. I've noticed that when I get to be part of a play—no matter how insignificant—early in the game, my performance for the rest of the game tends to be better. For example, I think that getting a pass (and handling it well) on my first shift on the ice last week set the tone for the entire game. It didn't matter that I was in the uncomfortable floater spot; that pass was encouraging. It sucked me in to the game and gave me a purpose on the ice.
My first shift on the ice this week, by contrast, demonstrated (to me, at least) how insignificant and unnecessary I was. Instead of passing to me on our first shift, one of my linemates decided to carry the puck end to end himself—and practically mowed me down at the blueline on his way to the net in the process. Yep, we could have gone in together; he could have passed to me instead of skating at me, and I would have gladly set him up for the score instead of shooting myself. He would have had a better opportunity to score, in fact, because the defensemen would have had to worry about both of us instead of just him.
My linemate was certainly under no obligation to pass to me; he had every right to take the puck in himself and try to score if he felt he could. I would have cheered him loudly if he had. And granted, this was the first time we'd played together, so it's completely possible that he wasn't aware that I could not only keep up with him, but also be wide open and looking for a pass as we came through the neutral zone. For my part, I wasn't aware of his tendency to try to take the puck end to end himself, or I would have just followed him in, crossing to the middle as he moved right, instead of trying to stay open for a pass.
Of course it's only in hindsight that I realize that our problem was unfamiliarity with each other; at the time, it just seemed that he didn't have any use for me. And mentally, that took me out of the game. Though Matt Z. was the floater this week, and I always went out at Right Wing, I felt less sure of my role, less sure of where I was supposed to be and what I was supposed to be doing than I did last week. I was like some soul-searching existentialist asking, "why am I here? What is my purpose?" on almost every shift. Consequently, I did practically nothing (until the end of the game, when I risked adding injury to insult by falling down a lot).
It wasn't *all* bad; I did have two moments of glory that I can recall... I just couldn't sustain the momentum for more than those shifts. In the first I got a breakaway and managed a shot on goal. The goalie attempted to cover the puck and missed it, and as I tried to calculate where to swing my stick to best poke it free, the referee blew the whistle. (I took some shit from my teammates for not whacking away at the semi-loose puck, even post-whistle.)
The second moment of glory I'm almost prouder of, probably because not only did I skate with the puck, but I also refused to let a defender knock me off it. I carried into the zone from about the redline, and as a defender approached at an angle and tried to cut me off, I popped the puck over his stick along the boards and attempted to follow it. As I squeezed through, the defenseman tripped, I apologized, and I emerged with the puck. No whistle was blown, so either the guy just looked klutzy, or I got lucky. I can't remember what happened next; the photo on the right just shows me coming out of the corner with the puck, not what I did with it. It's possible that I took a second shot on goal.
There's no game this week (possibly because of the holiday), but I hope to take what I've learned about my teammates' tendencies—and my own—into next week's game. I shouldn't need a pass to have a good time (or a good game).