Kukla's Korner

Petshark: Talking Stick

Morning skate, goalie drills, lines by Escher

During a broadcast of a Worcester Sharks game the other day, Ben Guite mentioned goalie drills.  He wasn’t very specific, but he said that shooting drills were more fun than goalie drills, if you’re not a goalie, which he isn’t.  I don’t remember if he used those terms, but this answered a question I had some time ago about goalies at team practice.  I wondered if goalies get enough or the right kind of practice when they practice with the team.  The answer seems to be: not really.

Even when the goalie is engaged in the drills, seeing a lot of shots, if those shots are practice for the shooters, they will probably be varied, the kind of shot that particular skater needs to practice.  The goalie will get work, he will get some practice, but it’s not comprehensive.

Just as a dancer does not simply recite the whole dance start to finish or, less useful still, learn a new dance each day, a goalie needs to break down the parts of his game and repeat these parts over and over, on a regular basis.  Sure, not knowing what’s coming next is part of his game, but it isn’t the only part.

No doubt it is the same for all players.  It’s just that the goalies are but two (or three, but they were just two today) and the skaters are many.

Just as I was writing that, Wayne Thomas, a Sharks goalie coach, takes over at Greiss’s end of the ice and starts directing the skaters through a drill.  Is this a goalie drill?  Yes, indeed it is.  The Sharks are so thoughtful.  As soon as I think of a thing they demonstrate it for me.  I feel so well taken care of.

Each skater shoots at the same spot, then goes to the crease where another skater passes him the puck so he can lift it over Greiss.  Well, mostly they don’t get it over him, but that seems to be the intention.  After a bit, they move to the other side of the ice and do the same drill from the other side.  Yes, I can see how this would be very boring for the skaters, but very useful for a goalie.  It’s like neural pathway conditioning.  Boring but in a good way.

Braun is out late with Greiss and the fourth line.  Greiss’s shooters dwindle.  Where the drill started with Clowe, Mitchell, Andrew Murray, Winchester, McLaren, Desjardins and McGinn, now only Andrew Murray, McLaren, Desi and Braun remain.

If Winchester has been moved to the top line and Marleau to the third, who’s on the fourth now?  Mitchell?  It’s like the lines are being run through a Rubik’s Cube or interpreted by Escher.

It seems a pity to break up the fourth line since it was such an effective unit.  Maybe the top line just needs to be nailed down a bit, flapping wildly in the wind as it has been. Maybe Winchester can do that, with his recent experience on a line that just does its job without too much revision or creative interpretation.  Maybe.

Braun is out late, but not skating anymore.  He’s gathering pucks with Desi.  It seems like rookie duty, not a sign he won’t play.  Twitter confirms this.  Vandermeer is added to the list of blessés.

I love that, in French, they use the term “blessé.”  It makes me think I don’t understand French at all because I always understood that to mean “wounded” not “injured.”  There’s a big difference.  Anyway, Vandermeer is among the walking wounded from the last game.  Likely felled by a shot, no less.  Poor Vandy.  Get well soon.

I look forward to seeing Braun and Demers play together again.  I don’t know if I will get to see it but I am already a convert to this doubling ODs.

McLaren and Murray stand up in the slot, while Greiss practices moving across the crease to the center, where the shooters shoot.

It occurs to me that I must be a real geek to enjoy watching this.  So be it.  I feel as lucky as a birdwatcher stumbling across the eggs of the rare ruby dodo.  I know this isn’t so rare.  I’ve probably seen it before and not even known it.  Maybe.

I went to LA last season to see the Flyers play.  My uncle came with me to the game.  He was not a hockey fan, he complained of the lack of scoring.  After that game, which ended 7-4 Flyers, he said he had enjoyed it, he even got to see some scoring.  “Well, not actually see it….”  As he pointed out, you don’t usually see the goals exactly except on replay.  They are too fast and often under or behind bodies.  It’s like baby deer being born.  You know it happened, but you hardly ever get to see it.

A lot of things in hockey are like that.  You know it probably happens, you hear it did happen, you suspect it must happen, but you don’t actually see it live.  Especially right when you’re wondering if it happens.

I didn’t see McLellan out on the ice with the team, but most of the players were there.  It was an optional skate.  The admiring, well-wishing biatch in me doubted the wisdom of this decision.  You know, the knee-jerk “you can rest when you’re dead” point of view.  The reasonable part of me knows that sometimes more is less, that boring repetition is fine so long as it stays this side of punishment.  Go beyond that and you’re liable to break something.

Besides, most of them opted to be there so the angry voice was appeased.  The practice started a little early, did not last very long unless you include Greiss’s practice.  The Stars skated for quite a while, but they haven’t played in four days.  I guess Raycroft is starting for them.  I’m not really sure.  I don’t really care, again it seems like who the Sharks play isn’t so important as how they play.

Oh please let this game show some sign that the Sharks are finding their stride, settling into a rhythm, clearing their heads, whatever.  I want to say I won’t care about the result so long as it’s a good game, but that’s hooey.  Of course I will be sad if they lose again.  I cannot live on Flyers wins alone!

Go Sharks!

Filed in: , San Jose Sharks, | Petshark: Talking Stick | Permalink
  Tags: brad+winchester, goalie, patrick+marleau, practice, thomas+greiss, torrey+mitchell, wayne+thomas

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About Petshark: Talking Stick

Native of Northern California.  Hockey fan since 1998... sort of... there's a hiatus in there that I still can't explain.

I want to know about anything and everything related to the sport and the spectacle.  I watch, I react, I write it down.

My interest in the Sharks was initially a matter of geographic convenience and regional loyalty because that seemed to be how it worked.  I had no prior interest (at all-- AT ALL) in professional sports of any kind.  When I met hockey, it might have set off a chain reaction of general sports fandom.  It hasn't, I don't think it will.  At all.

Since then, that interest developed into full blown (mostly sort of usually almost completely) exclusive loyalty to the Sharks.

I started blogging a couple years ago on wordpress. I still occasionally put things there that I don't think fit here because they are not about the Sharks. Wherever my words wander, here on Kuklas Korner, they will (usually) hang on to a teal thread.

I can be found in cyberspace on Twitter @petshark47, or emailed at talkingstick@petshark.net