As I watched the second intermission show of the Flyers at Toronto Maple Leafs game, TSN commentator Ray Ferraro commented on a point that we have all heard so many times—hit the net! The Leafs had already missed the net 13 times in the first two periods. They were doing a fine job of not giving their team a chance to win on this point alone.
Ferraro also said something to the effect that “The net has been in the same place for over 200 years” and he was marveling on how an entire team could be so inept at getting the puck on the net.
Coaches always stress shooting the puck—and hitting the net. Starting with warming up your goalies at the beginning of a practice, there is little value in shots that miss the net. Coaches do things like making players do pushups or do extra skating when players miss the net during drills. This sometimes helps.
Consistently hitting the net is more of a mental thing than a reflection of physical ability. Having the mindset to get the puck on the net is where a player needs to be. Coaches can help with consistently demanding this in practices. Players who like to score make it a habit to get the puck on the net consistently. Top power plays try to get the puck to the net every time they have the man advantage.
“A shot on goal is never a bad thing.” We all heard that line before.
Oh, by the way, the Leafs continued to miss the net in the third period. They lost 4-1.
Every player wants to play. Nobody likes to not get a regular shift. And, it can be maddening and embarrassing to not play a regular shift or sit out a game.
First, try to objectively understand why you are in the situation you are in. Blaming the coach is not the place to start. Coaches typically will play the guys they feel will help the team to win. Only the rare coach will let personal feeling override this. So, let’s set that one aside.
Other players simply might be better players. In this case, you have to keep working hard and wait for your opportunity. It will come. There will be an injury or a player who needs to come out of the lineup. Be ready.
Now what is the next step? As frustrating as you see the situation, your need to work hard and be a good team mate is still the foundation of your role on the team. Be first in drills, get on the ice early and stay late. Do the little things.
Be positive. Nobody wants a negative person around, even if it is a pal. And, don’t share any possible frustration with team mates or coaches. Be positive. Everyone should see you as a part of the solution, not part of the problem. Be positive. Make all communication positive and constructive. Be positive.
You should feel comfortable going to any member of the coaching staff to positively discuss your individual situation. Other player’s names should never be brought up. This is a ‘no excuses’ situation for all—don’t give or accept any.
And, you weren’t the first player to ever miss a shift or two and not dress for a game. And you won’t be the last. Prepare for your next opportunity, and be ready to perform when it arrives.