Meaningful Games

The Ottawa Senators have been using the phrase “we want to be playing meaningful games” in the latter part of the season. Well , in the world of professional sports every game is meaningful whether it is in October or April. It is meaningful on so many levels. For Coaches it is about winning.If you win you continue to come into work. If you lose or are losing you find meaning in showing the rest of the league you get your team to compete on a nightly basis. For players, you are playing for your next contract. Players understand that in this moment of their life they have a great lifestyle and are remunerated quite nicely, and want to extend it for as long as possible. They know deep down that it comes to end at some point. Some sooner, others later.

The Senators by using that phrase are trying to sell hope to a franchise that has been dysfunctional for the last 10 years. What they say about hope, it is fuel by fear and doubt. They have also introduced outcome into the equation by saying they want to be playing meaningful games down the stretch. Teams have no control over the outcome, they think they do but really they do not. What they do have control over is….here it comes PROCESS! I know it may sound like buzz word, catch phrase, but when it comes right down to it, the Senators do not understand what the team process consists of ?

It is very clear they do not have a process. They play like a game of shinny on an outdoor rink where all the talented players do whatever the hell they want until they meet up with a bunch of old guys who kick their ass and they are left wondering did we ever touch the puck? That is what happened against Winnipeg. Finally, after almost four years the Coach finally called out some players for their play. He structured his lines in such a way that three of the four have a chance of scoring , instead of just two lines , by putting a “worker”on each line. History shows us that you need a “worker” for the other two to be successful. Ted Lindsay, Al Secord, Ken Hodge, Kevin Stevens, and Clarke Gillies to name a few. Each player from the line had a specific role and understood it. Last night was the best game they played all year. It actually felt that everyone knew exactly what they were doing and there minimal panic in their own end. After the game or in the morning media scum DJ Smith said that they would not talk about meaningful games only the one ahead of them. This should have been long ago along with a couple of other things.

IMO players need to understand the five components of why bad shifts occur. These are from Dr. Bhrett McCabe who uses them with his PGA Tour players and are easily applicable to hockey.

Five Reasons Why Poor Shifts Happen:

Poor Preparation: IE. did not warm up correctly, arrived at rink late. Athletes are creatures of habit.

Poor Strategy : Incorrect strategy of your opponent and how to neutralize them.

Poor Mental Focus: Player not understanding the moment and the process

Poor Execution: Discipline. Can you make yourself do the right thing even though you do not want to.

Luck: Understanding that parts of hockey are variable and bounces do not always go your way.

It will be interesting to see in the coming weeks whether they can build on the next game. I am not talking about moral victories, and talking about finding out if they have the capabilities to be a better team and the capacity of making the most out of those game moments.

Until next time.

Follow on Twitter @Betweentheears2

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