Monday, May 10, 2010

My growing rap sheet of hockey crimes and misdemeanors

Well I'm closing in on one goal -- and not the kind with a net. I've managed to devote 99.9% of my waking hours to thinking about hockey.

Seriously. In the past two weeks, I had coffee with a lady friend with the barn door wide open for an hour and twice have gone out in public with my shirt inside out. I've also misplaced my ATM card five or six times and had trouble recalling my home address recently -- I've only lived here seven years.

In other words, if I can eliminate the .1% of the time I'm thinking about eating, going to the bathroom and girls, I'll have achieved perfect harmony with the hockey universe.

So why the obsessiveness?

Because my team -- the team I helped organize because I wanted to play in real games -- has started the spring league season 0 and 4. As I mentioned in a recent post, we're not getting butchered. But we have eight guys out of 13 playing in their first ever hockey league and we're not winning.

As for the scores, we've gone down 6 to 3, 4 to 2, 4 to 0 and 5 to 1. Our defense is actually playing fairly well. Our offense is improving and we're taking more shots. But we're still doing enough things wrong to prevent The Hockey Gods from awarding us with a win.

The Domestic Partner came to yesterday's game and shot about 13 minutes of video. With 99.9% of brain activity devoted to hockey I stayed up half the night watching the low-res clips. My intention was to make some notes on how we were doing as a team, but I ended up focusing on yours truly and it was like watching a hockey horror show over and over again.

Let's catalog some of my efforts to rewrite the position of right wing:

THE CRIME: There I am on the right side of the left face-off circle in our defensive zone. The puck scoots over to me. I know the puck has now entered The Death Zone -- that area in front of our goal -- so I give the puck a nice dainty slap to the left toward the boards. Never makes it there--puck instead goes to a guy wearing the wrong color jersey who actually seems surprised I made such an accurate pass to him. In other words, I didn't even manage to get the puck out of our zone.

RESULT: The other team didn't do much better with the puck and we were able to clear it up the right boards and make a rush on their goal. So my turnover didn't result in a goal against us.

VERDICT: I had the right idea, but the execution was poor and essentially brainless. I should have either taken off with the puck OR taken a split-second to look around for a pass OR for fuck's sake, iced that rubber motherfucker.

THE CRIME: We're in the other team's defensive zone and our opponents clear the puck through the neutral zone. The puck takes a bounce off the boards at the top of our defensive zone. I skate back to pick it up, my right defenseman skates forward to pick it up. I run into him.  

RESULT: Neither of us falls, but I did lose my stick and it took a second to pick it back up. My defenseman still manages to chip it into the other team's zone.

VERDICT: I honestly don't know what the fuck I was thinking about, but clearly it wasn't playing the exciting game of ice hockey. My defenseman, skating forward, called me off and I should have stopped on a dime or swerved to the inside because clearly he has jurisdiction over the puck at that point. Instead, I guessed wrong about which direction he was heading -- guessed being a charitable word because that implies the process of thinking -- and I smacked into him.

THE CRIME: Third period, we're down 4 to zip but we're playing better. My center gains control of the puck by the right circle in our defensive zone, takes it up into the neutral zone and makes a nice pass to our left wing. Our left wing takes a few strides and makes a nice pass to me at right wing. I take a shot but one of the other team's defensemen manages to get his stick on my stick and my shot goes high and sails over the glass and out of play.  

RESULT: I don't get to go home and jerk off over having scored a goal in an actual hockey game.  

VERDICT: This is a typical hockey play and some credit should go to the other team's defense. But I may have gotten off a clean shot if I had arrived at the spot where I received the pass a shade sooner. There's no doubt from watching the video that I could have skated harder down the ice. With 10 seconds left, in a different play, I miss a sweet pass from my center in front of the left side of a very open net, with the goalie planted on the other post. Same thing--I didn't get to where I needed to be until it was a touch too late.

THE CRIME: Loose puck behind the net and I'm within spitting distance of the goal when a woman playing for the other team -- camped out on the side of the net -- reaches back and grabs the puck and manages to dump it to a teammate who taps it in for a goal. Our center and a winger both barely miss knocking the puck out of the crease.

RESULT: We gave up a goal we shouldn't have given up.  

VERDICT: I should have seen what was developing and gotten over to the goal to help out. The woman camped by the side of the net should have either had her stick lifted off the ice or been shoved hard away from the net. If I had skated harder and thought, I could have done that.

Yeah, I know. Maybe I'm being too hard on myself. Then again, maybe it's time to begin exploring whether my skates -- or me -- has a second gear.

--Steve Hymon

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