There's a Hole in My Stick

Performed fairly crappily in the Admirals practice on Sunday night; for some reason, I couldn't take a pass to save my life. I'd lose sight of the puck every time it got near me, and it would end up going between the heel of my stick and my feet. Fart.

On a positive note, I was able to get some good advice from Jeff (who hurt his back in last week's post-practice scrimmage, which we didn't stay for, and who came to watch this week's practice). After practicing my passing at open hockey last week using his method of turning my stick over to keep the puck flat on the ice, I found I was having trouble lifting the puck on shots. Of course, I'd never really understood what I was doing to lift the puck in the first place; it just happened randomly about 30% of the time (usually during warmups rather than in games). So I asked Jeff if he could tell me what I needed to do to lift the puck. He said something that I'd heard before—namely, that I should point my stick where I wanted the puck to go—but something about the way he phrased it, and the way he demonstrated it, seemed to click this time. I was able to lift the puck immediately and consistently while we stood there shooting against the boards.

Of course, when I got back on the open ice and tried my new technique in front of the net, I couldn't lift consistently (or even regularly). I started to think that my problem wasn't so much in the actual shooting technique, but in the fact that I was slowing down and overthinking my shot. I tested this theory by skating as hard as I could at the net and then, without stopping to think about the puck or the net or the shot, I just let loose in stride. Damned if that puck didn't find the back crossbar of the net, high up. It was also the hardest shot I think I've ever made. So there's something to practice when I go back to UPenn on Friday: shooting with authority, and at speed.

The other thing I learned from Jeff that night came after a shift in our scrimmage with the Galaxy. He leaned down from his seat above the bench and said, "after you make the pass, skate hard and get back in the play!" I guess I hadn't realized it, but I tend to wait and watch things develop for a second or two before kicking it, especially on faceoffs and when passing from the boards. Here's a photo of me doing it in a Galaxy game against the Admirals this summer:

after winning a battle for the puck along the boards, I flip it to Matt Z, who's in motion; I actually remember waiting for a second to see if he'd catch the pass (he did) before I took off myself.

On faceoffs I mainly stand there for a sec to see which way the puck is going to go before committing; I'm still not sure this is a bad thing, but it certainly looks that way in the photos.

IMG_9147.jpg IMG_9148.jpg
the first photo is just before the puck drops; the second photo is just after. notice that the Admirals (I think that's Dan next to me) are in motion already, and I've just made a slight glide backwards.

Ironically, I did the opposite of waiting to see which way the puck would go when I was playing Center for our breakout drills early in the practice. That is, I curled too soon to one side or the other. (We three forwards were lined up at the blueline, with the two D at the goal line. Lisa would pass to one of the D, and we'd skate in, with the Wingers going to the hashmarks along the boards, and the Center curling to whichever side the D passed to.) I thought I was going straight and deep and watching to see which way the play would go, but Lisa said I wasn't; after telling me not to commit so soon a couple times, she finally halted the drill and demonstrated for me. I had thought I was doing what she demonstrated already, but I guess not.

The only way I could think to change what I was doing was to skate in slower, so the D would have time to figure out what they wanted to do, and to make sure I stayed between the two faceoff circles. When it was our turn again, I took off slower from the blueline and skated MUCH deeper into the zone than I thought I should really go (almost into the crease), but it seemed to produce the desired effect: I curled around parallel with the Winger just as the pass came to him. So there you go—I guess there was room for improvement.

Unfortunately, now my mind is back on passing. I was hoping to send this post in a positive direction, but I can't stop thinking about the hole in my stick. Why oh why was I missing so many passes on Sunday? Why did so many passes go between my stick and my feet, or require me to skate over to the boards to pick up the puck? Why can I not vary my speed properly so as to take the puck on my stick every time, regardless of how accurately it was passed? (I know it can be done: I've seen not only the pros do it, but the Drexel men's hockey team do it, too.) <sigh>

Posted by Lori in Admirals ~ Fall/Winter 2005-2006 | October 12, 2005·08:28 PM