Though I am unsure as to whether or not 4 days is long enough to qualify for a running theme, I still feel certain that I like highlighting instances of poor hockey decisions in this column. I realize that its a totally different situation on the ice and know that I likely would have done something similar (or worse), however its never a bad idea to view these poor plays in order to learn something either as a player or observer.
Today’s victim is Richard Park. Park, a veteran of over 600 NHL games and countless others in the OHL, IHL and international competition is a veteran on a young and rebuilding Isl anders’ team. Consequently, he is entrusted with a defensive role that includes penalty killing. The video linked above (I am still working on getting the NHL highlight vids to embed, so if any readers are savvy, let me know) shows the Buffalo Sabres on the PP and Park working the PK.
Buffalo gets a point shot off and Biron gives up a pretty decent rebound, which fortunately bounces right onto Park’s stick. Though there are no Sabres close to him, he promptly rifles the puck into the corner where it takes a home ice bounce and gives the Sabres an extra scoring chance. The video clearly shows Park hanging his head after Biron bails him out, indicating he clearly knew that he made a mistake.
The play he should have made, if his head was up, was to pivot and get the puck out off the glass or perhaps up the middle. He had time and space to make a play and instead chose to dump a puck into a corner. Maybe he is a bit shell shocked by what looks to be a lethal Buffalo power-play, but a guy of his experience should make the correct play at least 9 times out of 10.
The lesson here is that its imperative that you, as a player, should always have a situational understanding of what is going and who is around you. Its not always easy in hockey, but its something you should work on every practice and every game.