Thursday, August 22, 2013

Lets Talk Hockey

Alright, we have officially been in Sweden for 3 weeks now- Nick playing hockey the whole time, and me most of it. Lets talk some of the differences I’ve noticed in hockey here versus hockey in the states. Granted, I’ve only watched 3 of Nick’s games, and had my own practices- combine that with not being an expert, and this could be totally wrong. However, it’s just my opinion- some things are better, some are worse. Overall, it does seem to be a very different game. I can see why some players are more successful in the US versus Europe, and vice versa.
The biggest difference I see? Hockey here seems to be much more of a controlled game. I see this especially in the defensive zone on break outs, as well as shift changes. When these two occur simultaneously- WOW. In Sweden, one player can sit behind the net with the puck for 3, 5, even 10 seconds with no pressure coming at him. The entire unit has time to set up their breakout, gain their speed, and prepare their momentum. In the US, you might have 2 or 3 seconds before you are pressured- if that long at all. Because of this, the game here seems to be more about controlling the puck than a wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am game. Swedish hockey is very patient and controlled. 
Perhaps this patience and control extends into practices. In the US when I’ve practiced, we will tend to do a drill for maybe 3-4 repetitions a person, and then move on to the next drill. Here, you might do that same drill 15, 16, 17 times- even more- before moving on. Again, the US moving quickly and focusing on whats ahead, while here hockey focuses on the repetition and patience. 
Hockey here is also played on an Olympic sized rink, so the physical sheet of ice is bigger. Players can’t be as sporadic, or they will just get burned. Again, with the patience and picking the right moments. 
Checking and physical play. Wow, another big difference. The hits here just don’t seem to be as ‘spectacular’ as in the US. There are occasional hits, but overall it is a much less physical game here (for men’s hockey anyways. The women’s team seems to be more physical than I recall a women’s team being. Then again, this is my first time playing for a women’s team in 8 years, so I have been out of the loop). 
The common theme here that I’ll close on, is that Swedish hockey has a lot more finesse and patience. American hockey is more about grit and wearing opponents down- not ever giving them a second to rest. Perhaps later in the year I will revisit this- however, for now, these are my hockey related thoughts! 
(P.S. I do love to see my guy smoke another player-perhaps the Minnesotan in me coming out!)

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