Vancan Outta The Blue

The Skills Competition
December 14, 2011, 15:09
Filed under: Archived: Hockey | Tags: , , , ,


CompetitionThe act of competing, as for profit or a prize; rivalry; A test of skill or ability; a contest.

The opening drop of the puck and two players jostle to skillfully obtain the puck for their team. Who’s quicker to get their stick on the puck? Who has defter hands?

Play goes on as players glide across the ice at great speeds. Skating; a skill these men learned at such a young age and one that is essential to being a good hockey player at the NHL level.

A saucer pass over not one but two sticks; not only that, but it’s right on the tape, leaving the receiver of the pass with an open net. The saucer pass and passing in general is a skill very few players can say they are great at.

It’s mid-way through the 2nd period now and a talented winger drifts down the right side boards, his skating sleek as silk. He’s got company; one defenseman. The winger cuts to the middle and undressed the d-man. He left all his finesse skills out on the ice with that dipsy doodle. It doesn’t end there though; no that winger put the puck on the toe of his blade and snipes it top shelf above the goalies glove hand. He was aiming right where he put it. Now tell me that is not pure skill.

The score is tied 2-2, both goalies having put on a clinic the entire night; a clinic of their skills that is. Stopping pucks, snagging point shots and hot dogging it once or twice are just a sample of what they managed to do this night.

The play is down in one team’s end for the final 60 seconds of regulation. The pressure being withheld like none other during that game. The puck finds its way to the right of the net, 15 feet out. The D turn to that man as he threads the needle to his teammate, unmanned, 20 feet away on the other side of the net. The goalie is down, but not out. The forward who took the pass takes a shot and somehow, someway, the goalie lunges back, stretches his stick out into the gaping void that is the open net. Some will call that luck. I call that a skill of strength and determination and never giving up on a play.

Regulation ends with the squads deadlocked at 2 goals apiece.

OT is played and chanced are traded back and forth, with both teams coming close to ending it on numerous occasions. It was a tremendous display of pure hockey skill.

Then comes the hated and loved shootout. It’s what many call the skills competition. “How ignorant,” I say to myself just about every time a colour commentator blurts out those two words upon the ending of OT. Were we not all just treated to a skills competition? Who can shoot the puck better? Who can make crisper passes? Who can maintain possession by constantly winning faceoffs? Even the act of throwing a hipcheck a la Ballard would be considered a skill.

Yet some of us are so quick to judge the shootout as something different, when really it’s just not.

The moral of the story is…Don’t judge a shootout by its cover!

Follow me on Twitter @vancan19

Original Post on VSBN

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