We live in an age where you can pull up game highlights on your phone, computer, or television whenever you want. I do this myself daily.
There is one major issue with easy access to full game highlights. You do not need to watch an entire game anymore in real-time.
Highlights show the very best clips from a game. A 60-minute game may have a highlight package of 3-5 minutes long.
If you never see the full three periods you miss what a player does in a shift and string of shifts.
I talk with coaches all the time. A reoccurring theme is that players (some, not all) will continue to try to make moves in situations where they should be making a better decision with the puck.
Here is an example:
A player is carrying the puck down the right side of the ice on a three on two rush. That player tries to beat a defender one on one, instead of using the odd-man situation to their advantage.
They end up turning the puck over at the blue line, watching the opponent skate the other way on an odd-man rush.
If you never watch a full game of hockey, you never see the “Neutral” shifts. “Neutral” shifts are the ones where a player jumps on the ice, forechecks, maybe touches the puck for a brief second, then backchecks, plays in their defensive zone, and then changes.
Pretty boring shift, right? Well, this is what most shifts are.
Players who have these shifts don’t do anything spectacular, they are not making the highlight video, BUT they do not do anything harmful to hurt her or his team.
The best players in the world will have multiple shifts like this. They will take their time, be patient, and pick the right situation (when they have an advantage) to try a highlight move, beat a player one on one, or take a risk.
It takes discipline to do this.
The players that are the most disciplined are the ones who seem to get the best “chances” in a game.
In reality, they are making better decisions that benefit not only themselves but also their team.
Over time they will be given more opportunities from their coaches because they can be trusted to do what’s right the majority of their shifts.