While I was busy agonizing over the underlying reasons for my crappy performance in our game against the Shock, my teammates were busy mulling over more specific failures of their own. Josh claimed credit (or blame?) for the fourth and fifth goals against us—and thus the entire loss—but Dan wouldn't let that stand. He wanted at least a share of the blame for the fourth goal.
I didn't talk much about specific game events in my last post, so I neglected to mention that Dmitry scored a goal* (yay, Dmitry!), and that I was at least partly responsible for one of the goals scored against us (and this is where I join in the self-flagellation that Josh and Dan initiated via e-mail). The incident I'm thinking of was one in which I had an excellent opportunity to steal the puck from the pointman and have a breakaway in the other direction. In lieu of that rosy scenario, I instead failed to execute a proper poke-check and, in the process, left the point both uncovered and in possession of the puck. Because of my failure to clear the zone (much less get a breakaway), the puck stayed in, and we were scored on a few seconds later. Do I get a 2nd assist for that?
* It's important to note that this goal, and at least three others in this game, were scored AGAINST OUR OPPONENTS. I want to make this clear because we have a dismaying—but nevertheless somewhat hilarious—habit of scoring goals on ourselves.
Last week's game against the Shock was less satisfying than our first two, for a number of reasons—not least of which was that I hardly sweated at all. (Last game I skated so hard that my hips and butt ached for three days, and my hair and gear were soaked when I came off the ice.) In this game I did the most skating in the first period, when Jeff's absence (he had to go buy a half shield before the refs would allow him to play) left us with two forward lines and five D. In the second and third periods, however, a couple wonky line changes, a penalty kill, and the fact that we had three Wing pairs meant that I skated significantly less.
Of course, when I *was* skating, I wasn't really skating that well. I was back to being tentative and wobbly instead of confident, agressive, and relatively accurate. I'm pretty sure I know the reason, but I've been reluctant to talk about it because it's embarrassingly self-centered (as if the rest of this blog isn't!) and, I think, probably demonstrates a decided flaw in my character. It's basically the same factor I described in The Psychological Impact of Passing: namely, that if it appears that my teammates have confidence in me, *I* am confident, and I do everything I can to prove that I deserve their confidence. If it appears that I *don't* have their confidence, I'm tentative and useless.
When the "standard lines" for the season were first distributed early in the season, I must admit to a bit of heartbreak when I saw that I was on the 4th line. Hardly the vote of confidence I was looking for, even though our captain suggested that sometimes the first line would get more ice time, and sometimes the fourth line would. Even if I were able to follow this logic, ice time isn't really the point for me—although I do admit in this game against the Shock it *was* an issue, since I sat so much in the second and third periods. Rather, value and purpose are. Better to say, "we're really counting on the fourth line to be the checking line/to tire our opponents out/to score/whatever" than to pretend that in some games we'll get more time on the ice than the first line. At least then I could view my spot in a positive light: "I'm on the fourth line because I'm a good checker!" or "Wow, I can't wait to get on the ice and WEAR MY OPPONENTS OUT!" I'm being totally serious here; I know that this kind of management-by-inspiration works for me both on and off the ice. I've also seen it work with kids: When my mom and I used to coach girls' softball, we'd make sure to tell each girl why we wanted her at the position she was in, so she'd (a) understand her job, and (b) realize that her position was incredibly important to the team. Right field wasn't the place we dumped the worst fielders, for example. It was where we put the best fly-ball catchers when the other team had good left-handed hitters in the lineup.
So anyway, back to the impact of... well, confidence on my confidence. :) In our second game, we were relatively short on players, starting the game with two forward lines and a floater. Surprisingly, I was placed on the first line. I took this as the vote of confidence I was looking for, and I skated my heart out. I didn't score, but I played quite well, and as I mentioned, I came off the ice exhausted, sore, and soaked—not to mention exhilarated. I probably shouldn't have taken my move to the third line (of three) in our latest game as a demotion; it probably just made more sense to put me there given the players we had available. I couldn't help feeling my shoulders slump, however. See what I mean? Character flaw. I should be giving my best all the time, regardless of where in the lineup I am, what position I play, and with whom I skate. If the captain or my teammates won't say, "Lori, you're on the third line, and we really need you to go out there and give 'em hell so that they can't use their deeper bench against us" or something else equally inspiring, I should be inventing my own personal mission instead of feeling sad and sorry for myself.
I think the remaining reason this game was less satisfying were some comments made, both to me and by me, on the bench. I snapped at Chip unnecessarily at one point when he screamed at me to get off the ice—and I was already at the boards right in front of him, doing just that. I should have kept my snippy comments to myself; sorry about that, Chip. Two comments made to me I think were meant to be constructive (and might even have been a vote of confidence in that the commenter obviously thought I'd know what to do with the information), but still served to make me feel like crap in one case, and confused in the other. One was made after I took a very nice pass from Rich as I skated into the zone and then wasted it by firing a shot a little wide; the comment was, "You have to control that! You had plenty of time to skate it in!" Yep, I probably did, and I'd already excoriated myself for not taking another stride and shooting as well as I know I can (I've been practicing!). I think I just panicked a little, since in seasons past I tended to skate in *too* close and never get the shot off at all.
The other comment happened after the Center on our line (it rotated, because we only had two Centers for three Wing pairs) chased after a puck in the corner on the left, which would normally be my job. When I saw our Center go, I immediately went to the slot and looked for a pass (as I said I would do). Apparently the Right Wing also did this, lining up a bit behind me. The comment to me on the bench was, "When I go to the corner like that, you have to go to the other corner behind the net and look for a pass. You can't both go to the net." Well, OK, fair enough: If you want to set up a low triangle, I have no objections. I'm not sure it was the most constructive comment to make to me on the bench, however, especially if you're not also going to make it to the Right Wing. The triangle only makes sense when there are THREE people to execute it. Two players do not a triangle make. That said, if I see that Center go to the corner again, and I'm the second player into the zone, I'll set up behind the net and look for the pass (and fervently hope that the Right Wing goes to the net). Given that in our game against the Moose we almost never had anyone in front of the net, I kinda think that getting someone there should be our priority, even though I know that the triangle is a good play and can lead to scoring opportunities. I guess I just don't have a lot of faith that we know how to execute it properly yet.
OK, enough moaning and groaning. In summary: I need to shut up, perk up, and put up the points—and not let the lineups or the fuckups get me down.