Friday, December 10, 2010

This week in hockey crimes and misdemeanors: what to do when the goalie drops his stick?

And the mistakes go on and on and on....

The Crime: Due to some kind of cosmic burp, I’m playing center. We’re up by a goal late in the third period, in the left faceoff circle and on offense. I kind of win the faceoff and pull the puck backward on a diagonal – a four o’clock direction – into a space unoccupied by any of my teammates. An opponent picks up the puck and heads down the ice unescorted.

The Result:
First, I almost crapped my hockey pants. Second, the opponent got off a pretty good shot, which was blocked by my goalie. We take the puck back up the ice, warding off the threat.

The Lesson: I had the right idea – pull the puck back to one of our D-men. Problem is, I didn’t check immediately before the puck dropped to see where our D-men were stationed. If I had seen there wasn’t anyone there, I could have either signaled to my teammates to move or tried harder to make sure I didn’t send the puck the other way up the ice.

The Crime: I’m at wing and follow the other wing into the other team’s zone. I set up in front of the crease and in the jostling for a rebound that follows – get this – the other team’s goalie drops his stick. I give it a girlie kick away from the crease to get it out of my way and, of course, deny the goalie the use of his stick. But it only goes three feet or so and a D-man from the other team is above to recover the stick and give it back to the goalie before we take another shot.

The Result: Even though the goalie got his stick back, I had a decent screen going and the other wing takes a shot from the slot and scores.

The Lesson: Actually, this is a play in which a lot of things went as they should. The problem is I had a chance to kick the stick all the way over to the boards or to the corner and I didn’t take it. One problem is the 10 percent of my brain that was functioning at the moment (remember – playing hockey reduces brain capacity by at least 90 percent; you’re probably more capable of coherent thought while having sex simultaneously with the past 10 playmates of the year while also eating a cheeseburger*. I’m serious). 

If I had known the rules, I would have also known that there’s a big advantage to kicking the stick as far as possible. Under hockey rules – as far as I understand – another player on the goalie’s team can fetch his stick but can’t touch the puck while carrying two sticks AND has to carry the stick back to the goalie; no throwing it or sliding it. Thus, that player is taken out of the play while the goalie is crippled.

Or, another player could have given the goalie his stick to use, meaning that player is without a stick. Advantage us.

I’ve perused the NHL rulebook and can’t find anything about how far a player can kick a stick that has been dropped. If I’m mistaken, please leave a comment or email me.

The Crime: I’m at center again. We’re on defense. I have the puck below the goal line and am being vigorously pursued as I head behind our goal. I wind up to take a slapshot, my intention being to wing the puck from behind the goal and up the boards to someone, anyone who is not the guy chasing me.

The Result: The guy chasing me takes advantage of my windup and steals the puck from me. Our opponents don’t score, but they get a shot off and I end up in a pile of humanity in front of our own net, trying to block a shot. That gives our opponents a face off in our zone, of course.

The Lesson: I see this happen all the time in our league – someone takes a big wind up for a slapshot and in that split-second their trying to shoot, someone swipes the puck. In the above case, the idea wasn’t terrible, but the execution was. The smarter play would have been to keep on skating hard and make the guy both catch me and steal the puck. By slowing down for a big slappy, I let him catch me. Don’t let them catch you.

*Not an actual fantasy of mine. I use this only as an example.


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