Like most sports, hockey is a team game. It takes everyone executing their roles to win on a regular basis. If, say, the top two lines are playing well, but the other two are not (or vice versa), or say the offense is playing well, but the defense (or goaltending) is not, it's hard to be a consistently good team.
While goal scorers or flashy goaltending play often are what the parents and fans remember, the repetitive small-area battles ultimately decide the outcome of a game. In fact, it's often the little things that don't show up on the scoresheet, such as; good defensive zone outlet passes, a timely pinch to keep the puck in the offensive zone, solid backchecking, or a blocked shot etc..., etc... that usually tilt the balance of the contest.
As an individual player, you are part of the bigger collective and need to do your job every shift to help the team win. Some games you play may get you the glory, and other times you may not, but understanding each shift, you are on the ice matters in the big picture. Executing even the smallest play on any given shift may be the difference between a win and a loss. This attention to detail and responsible play separates average and great teams from great players and great teams. Every team needs players with a variety of skill sets to be effective.
It takes all kinds of players to make a good team. Teams need offensively gifted players, stay-at-home, defensive-minded players, players with size, players with speed, and gritty players that can win board battles. For every offensively gifted player like David Pastrnak or Patrick Kane, you need Patrice Bergeron or Johnathan Toews, that are
responsible and effective in not only the offensive zone but also the neutral and defensive zones as well. Diversity of skill sets helps balance out a team and also provides a complement to a linemate who may be deficient in a certain area of his (or her game).
This attention to detail and making sure there is focus on each shift and even the smallest plays is not only important during the regular season but is even more critical come playoff time when the stakes rise. For teams that want to have playoff success or win a championship, every member of the team needs to know their role matters. So whether you're the first-line center or the 4th line winger, you have a job to do, and your play on each shift will absolutely influence the outcome of the game.
Play hard, play smart, and trust your linemates to do the same and play to your skills and strengths.
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