When individuals and teams have great regular seasons and play-offs begin, there is always the comment: “The season starts now". There is truth to the statement: "Because it's the Cup, everyone’s season starts over and the word now is very important." The words: “What’s important now” become even more important. Teams go through the regular season and a value is placed on how teams or individuals finish their season; winning, losing, scoring, defensively, offensively, hard to play against, easy to play against, etc, etc.
The Goalie factor is huge because they are capable of stealing or losing games and series on their own. Their goal is to make all the regular saves and enough spectaculars. While nice to have a good regular season, play-offs is a new season.
There are basically four seasons in hockey: Training mode in the summer that gives you a psychological advantage over your opponent because you did more, exhibition season in the fall for game conditioning, timing and winning jobs; regular season and Stanley Cup Play-offs.
Make the play-offs and the player's and team's mind-set takes over. The culture of each organization plays a role. Nothing else matters. The first words that enter the mind are charisma, compete, composure, courage, creativity, converting in critical moments. With effort and skill threshold a given, the mind plays the biggest role when you are required to execute in a critical moment or get in to someone's head.
The difference is inches, attention to detail is paramount; boldness, courage, determination and try are ingredients. Initiate versus retaliate is the rule of thumb. Enforcers literally have no role because each person will have their courage and fortitude levels challenged and they better have an answer.
Because it’s the Cup, the game is different. Pests take their pest level to another level, more players add the word pest to their arsenal and that bothers some on the opposing team. One way to beat a pest is to think like a pest. They do not go away on their own so ignoring them is not the answer to the situation.
Players and teams are defined by how they execute in a critical moment. Smart coaches get more players involved in the rush because coverage is so great. Team offense and team defense are more predictable than star power and there is no room on any team for players who squeeze the stick in critical moments or fail to bring it every night. Pack mentality comes to the forefront. You can visibly see teams with a pack mentality; everyone is all in. Happiness for the success of teammates is magnified.
Offensive players become more detailed away fm the puck and defensive players do what they do and try to chip in. Level of caring and try is exposed every shift. The Cup is the time for pecking orders to get altered in each game and series. Cups have been won many times by players choosing to alter the pecking order and be the one. The rule book becomes a guideline; making each situation more difficult. The Cup is more like an organized playground setting. Emotions run high and need to be controlled. Purging both negatives and positives is a skill and mind-set that must be acquired.
Offensive teams become more detailed defensively; defensive teams struggle coming fm behind because it takes talent and creativity to generate offense. Generating offense is a unique individual and team skill that can be taught.
Hockey is three games in one. Teams need a game without the puck, game with the puck and they need to be hard to play against both offensively and defensively. Teams need all three or they don’t go very far in their “Quest for the Cup”. Every shift has potential to be a story while every period and game is a story in itself. The stories are not limited to the stars.
Copyright by Chuck Grillo, Minnesota Hockey Camps, 24621 So Clark Lake, Rd P.O. Box 90, Nisswa, MN 56468-0090 Phone 218.963.2444 Fax 218.963.2325