Isn’t this one of the best times of the year?
The NHL playoffs are incredible.
I would argue with anyone that there is nothing else like it in the world of sports.
While I haven’t watched every game, I’ve watched a lot this year and wanted to write a quick article about my observations thus far (almost 2 weeks in).
The first thing that stands out is the speed of the game. We all know that hockey is trending into a faster, more skating driven game, but the playoffs really exemplify this.
Teams and players that can skate, and play with speed, are dominating thus far. And I think this only continues to prove the point that if you want to make it as a hockey player, you need to be working on your skating and your speed.
And it’s all positions. It used to be that if you were bigger and didn’t skate as well you played defense. That just isn’t the case anymore. In fact, most of the best defenseman are now also tremendous skaters.
The next thing that stands out is team depth.
Obviously, your best players need to be your best players to be successful, but I think the team that has the best depth as a group will be the team that hosts the cup this year.
I’ve actually been a huge believer of this for a long time. I have been saying the same thing for the past few years in that, if you don’t have four lines that can play in the playoffs, you’re not going to win. Simple as that.
The last item is special teams.
The bigger the game, the more important every little advantage is.
I’m a big believer that once you get down to the playoffs, every team is good and laying it on the line each night.
Because of this, the margin of error becomes even more razor thin and things like special teams are often the real difference makers.
If your special teams struggles in the playoffs, your season is probably going to be ending pretty soon.
So what are the takeaways from all this for players and coaches?
1) Understand and realize how the game is constantly evolving. Being able to play with pace and make decisions and plays at full speed is becoming the way to have success as a player and team.
2) Remember that every role on a team is vital to its success. If you’re a fourth liner, you need to realize that your job has a purpose to the overall success of the team. Like I’ve said countless times on this blog, there’s a reason you don’t have 4 first line centers. Everyone has a job, embrace it and be the best you can be at it.
3) And lastly, don’t forget to be constantly working on your skill development. The difference between good players and great players is usually the great players are able to execute the basic fundamentals of the game at a higher level than the good players. So those things include, stickhandling, passing, shooting, and even skating. And the best part to remember about all those skills, is they can all be constantly worked on and improved.
So, Continue to go after the things you want and make sure you’re putting in the work. Taking action is always more important than trying to make sure you’re working on the perfect drill. In fact, often simple is better. And finally, build good habits and always remember that nothing worth having comes easy.