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Be where you are supposed to be and other hockey lessons for students (of all ages)

Posted on September 2, 2014 by 40 Mile Commentator

By Rob Ficiur

In the 2014 Stanley Cup final, three games went to overtime; the team that won those three games spent the summer as Stanley Cup champions.  The team that lost all three overtime games did not have a happy summer. The four game winning goals of the Stanley Cup final show us three simple life lessons that students (of all ages) can use as they return to the classroom this week.

1. Be where you are supposed to be – Two of the Stanley Cup final overtime goals came as a direct result of defensemen being out of position. 

Game #1 – Overtime: When NY Ranger defenseman Dan Girardi took control of the puck in his zone, his defensive partner Ryan McDonough took off like a forward heading to Kings net. A split-second later, Giardia stumbled and fell giving the LA a two on zero breakaway. LA Kings forward Justin Williams was all alone when he took the pass and to put his shot in the net. McDonough was too far out of position to be of any help. Giradi was labeled as the goat for slipping, when his defensive partner was not where he was supposed to be.

Game #5 – In the second overtime period, the Kings crossed the center line with a 3 on 3 scoring chance. The Rangers had enough players to cover all the Kings skaters; so this was not a prime scoring opportunity. When Kings’ rookie Tyler Toffoli took a shot from the right wing circle, two of the Rangers converged on him; all three defenders were on the left side of the ice. Alex Martinez, the Kings third skater, was totally alone when he tapped in the rebound for the 2014 Stanley Cup winning goal

In all these examples, I realize that these errors took place as a result of split second decisions; but that is the point; as professional hockey players they know where they should be. If they had been where they were supposed to be they could have stopped the shooter from his game winning goal.

Note: Two of the LA Kings not in the rush in Game #5 were exactly where they were supposed to be. Matt Greene and Trevor Lewis were going off the ice for a line change as the Stanley Cup winning goal was being scored. They could have been rushing into the play or casually watching hoping this rush would end the game. Instead they had learned their system and were exactly where they were supposed to be – so that the team could defend a Ranger rush down the ice.

In school (and at work) it is simple be where we are supposed to be.  (Be there mentally as well, not with our minds on our phones or music). 

2. A little bit of hustle at the right time makes a big difference.

At 10:12 of the second overtime period of Game #2, Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonough (see Game #1) had control of the puck in the corner.  Kings right winger Dustin Brown showed no signs of fatigue as took the skated the puck away from McDonough. (It wasn’t a body check, Brown skated harder and faster and took the puck away). After Brown passed defenseman Willie Mitchell he hustled to where he was supposed to be near the net. Mitchell’s first shot was blocked but it came back to him for a second shot from the point. When Mitchell took shot #1, Brown realized he was too close to the net so he moved into the slot, just Mitchell took shot #2. Brown arrived in the slot just in time to tip in the winning goal.

If Brown had been casual about his fore checking the Rangers would have cleared the puck out. If he had stood around watching Mitchell’s shot the Rangers would have stopped the easy drive. Instead Brown outraced all the tired players twice; first to get the puck and second to be where he needed to be to create a scoring chance.

In real life, especially when we are tired, that extra effort can make the difference in getting things done and done right. 

3.  Work (or study) until the buzzer goes – The winning goal in Game #3 was at 19.59 of the first period.  After a scoreless first period, teams were mentally ready to go to the dressing room…or were they?

With five seconds left in the period, Kings forward Justin Williams skated across the center ice (no big deal); with 3.2 seconds left Williams crossed the Rangers blue line and two Ranger defenders converged on him. (Why two defenders after a player on the far right wing boards?…see point #1 be where you are supposed to be). Williams feathered a pass to Jeff Carter with 1.2 seconds left. Carter was in prime scoring position with no defender close enough to block him or the puck. Carter’s shot crossed the goal line with 0.6 seconds left in the period. The goal deflated the Rangers’ momentum – one second made a big difference.

We all like to get out of class (or work) a bit early… but staying to the end of our shift (class) is what we are there for. Simple steady being on the clock until the time is up, gives the advantage to our side.

I realize that these three simple things sound like a four letter word: W-O-R-K.  The little bit of extra work paid off for the Kings as their 2014 a Stanley summer they will never forget.

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