The second half of the fall season went much like the first: a certain amount of personal success (beaucoup is an amount) and a certain amount of team dominance (zero is another amount). Despite mostly underachieving for the first 5/8's of the season, we were nevertheless in a decent position to make the playoffs before dropping four straight down the stretch, with each a very winnable game, and were forced to play out, and win out, the string. Unlike the team, I was mostly consistently brilliant throughout. At least as far as the boxcars go:
Nearly a goal per game, 1.6 points per game, and a fairly ridiculous 23.6% shooting percentage, On the one hand I'm kind of ecstatically pleased with my personal season, but I'm also worried that some shooting% regression plus fewer good bounces plus decreased ice time plus the loss of our captain and spiritual leader (the stats guys love the last seven words) plus a non-insignificant amount of roster turnover plus a ridiculous trial and trial prep throughout the bulk of the season could all lead to a disastrous '11 spring. But I'm also worried that something terrifyingly horrible will happen to Anita and Pasha on their totally normal walk around our neighborhood right now. So maybe it's just me.
That at least some of the talk of these exploits is with tongue firmly inside of cheek is, I hope, clear; if not, I'll remind myself and everyone else that notwithstanding the ceremonial li'l fist pumps after the denting of the twine - THE greatest physical joy known to man (apologies to both my wife and my meth dealer) - I did most certainly give up a lot the other way: turnovers inside the zone, missed assignments that lead to goals, lost battles in the corners, etc. These all continued to rear their ugly heads, and while I'd argue it was all to a lesser extent than ever before, I am certainly no Martin Hanzal or Frans Neilsen just yet. Rather, and this is somewhat interesting, I think a ridiculous 9 of my 13 goals came on wrist shots from outside the circles. I think that makes me of the Michael Ryder / Joffrey Lupul mold of one-dimensional, one skill-set players. And with that, what started out as a boast post ends up a suicide note.
But I won't end on such a dour note. For my friends, fans, and most importantly for myself, when I'm too long in the tooth to do any of these things or even remember them, here are my top five favorite plays of the season:
5) GM1 v. Hudson Hawks, Sep. 12, 2010: As much as I kind of don't like him these days, my love of hockey started exclusively with Wayne Gretzky. Perhaps his most signature move, especially over the period that I watched him, was him setting up behind the net and passing it out in front for a tap in. I capped off a 5 point opening night with that very play, feeding it to Geno for the last goal in an enormously fun win.
4) GM15 v. Irish Times, Jan. 9, 2011: Virtually eliminated from the playoffs, we beat the eventual champion. I scored what ended up being the game winner on a very unspectacular but completely typical goal: took a short pass at center ice, walked into the zone, dmen did not step up, waited, waited, saw room high blocker, wristed it basically exactly where I wanted from probably just inside the top of the circle. No fuss, no muss.
3) GM8 v. Impact, Nov. 10, 2010: Late in a tightly contested game against the eventual runner up, I collected the puck behind the net, took a step out in front, waited for the goalie to go down or open up some space to shoot, waited, waited... saw our dman (Hambly) jumping into the slot from the point, put it right on his stick, and he buried it. Probably my highest hockey IQ play all year.
2) GM10 v. Brother Jimmy's, Dec. 10, 2010: Had two goals in a 7-3 romp, but the second was kind of a beauty. Shorthanded, dman (Joel) won a battle in our own zone, skated up the right side, I took off down the middle, he threaded it perfectly, collected it in stride at the blue line, split the two d, went in alone and wristed it short side. It was probably the fastest I skated all season and there was no doubt that I was going to score. Magical feeling of exhilaration.
1) GM14 v. Homer's Heroes, Jan. 2, 2011: The structure of the goal itself - took a pass at the red line, made one move at the blue line to beat a defenseman (Karel), walked in down my off wing and beat the goalie up high, far corner from between the dot and top of the circle - wasn't that unusual or spectacular; rather, it was special because it was against the best goalie in the league, a goalie that is very difficult to beat, and he had come well out of the crease and gave me almost nothing to shoot at. There were times during the season where I felt like I could hit quarters strategically placed in the net, and this goal was the ultimate expression of that feeling - ripped off the post and in, a glorious sound and sight.