Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Mirroring Your Favorite Player

I think a lot of folks would deny it, or call it lame if asked, but I think as amateur hockey players and fans of various NHL teams, we inevitably end up mirroring our favorite player in how we approach the game.  It makes a lot of sense, both subconsciously since we wind up watching that player the most, or intentionally, trying to achieve the skill level that endeared us to them.

My favorite player is Thomas Vanek and it goes without saying that large parts of my game are very similar to Vanek's.  Though I have to make up for some of my deficiencies with hustle, I've found myself doing a lot of things the same way Vanek would.  Like Vanek, I like to play left wing because it sets me up to shoot off feeds from the opposite wing.  I have evolved my game (and my shot) to the point where I have a shooter's mentality, and when skating in alone on the goalie, I use Vanek's snapshot move almost exclusively.

I like playing around the net and do a pretty good job of getting myself open.  Camping out in the slot or just off the left post is my bread and butter (though most of my goals have come glove side).  My goal celebration is identical to the subdued Vanek fist pump, and I put on the Vanek face at missed opportunities on occasion.

It's kind of funny because early on my skillset was pretty sparse.  I couldn't handle the puck very well, had an awful shot and almost no hockey intelligence, just about the opposite of Vanek in every sense.  The evolution of my game in that direction wasn't intentional, but as I improved in each category and watched Vanek play, things pushed in that direction.  Overall I'd say my game is 60% Thomas Vanek (tendencies and hockey intelligence), 30% Nathan Gerbe (hustle), 5% Paul Gaustad (taking faceoffs) and 5% Patrick Kaleta (shot blocking and occasional douchebaggery).  I like that combination.

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