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Joy! Halak’s bliss…

27 avril 2010


Snowstorm in Quebec’s metropolis. Washington Capitals have been beaten
here yesterday night. Sky rejoicing and laughing in the blizzard. The
best team during the regular season in the National Hockey League can
not find a way to beat those Montreal Canadians hanging hard on defense
and being opportunistic with their few chances.

Although this was
the result of an intense collective work, the main reason for this
great achievement is named Iaroslav Halak, the prodigious goal tender
who, by 53 saves, resisting all night long the storm the talented
offensive team had put up against him, thus saving the day. The series
is tied 3-3 and decision is coming tomorrow night, at Washington, with
the seven and last match.

I think I will not attend my planned
chess game tomorrow, for this game is more important to me. I want to
see that with my close friends.

Can the marvelous goaler repeat
this exceptional performance? We can not be sure of that. And we can
count on Washington’s Capitals to try something new to adjust and
prevail with finesses and huge creative talents by some great individual

But in collective play, my team was way more cohesive.
Puck control, fast skating, precise passing made the grade. Why not
again tomorrow? We will see.

They (the enemy) will try to derange
our pearl of a goaler, they will charge the net , trying to shake
confidence, and referees will have important word to say on how this can
be tolerated or not.

Powerplay goals can decide the fate in
either side. Our powerplay is better than theirs, so they have to think
twice before taking stupid penalties.

Now, this bliss. A
goaltender when preparing to a very special game, he knew an almost
impossible challenge, has to concentrate and visualize virtually all
possible outcome. He prepares to react properly, according to global
team game plan. They discussed the main strategy and how the goaler will
do generally, the defense and defensive efforts from forward have to
adjust and stick to game plan, no matter what happens out there. Plan
"b" and even, sometimes, plan "c" are prepared to cope with less
desirable turn of events. Success rely on mental team toughness.

the goaler is a solitary person. He is the last rampart against defeat.
He must settle into himself an immutable cell of certitude, ultimate
confidence that he can perform to the best. More than mental toughness,
he needs to meditate in order to attain zen-like state, when inner void
can get rid of all worldly agitation, forcing virtually all events to
fit in imposed set of mind : victory.

Halak began to build this
bubble of confidence last game when he stopped almost everything they
fired at him. And Canadians won the fifth game by the narrowest margin
of 2 to 1. Yesterday, Halak had the chance to see his team mates to
score three times before he finally had to give one goal, last in third
period. Then they hold hard to defense and the final outcome, 4 to 1,
with a final goal in empty net, permit every hopes. Because this team
can play still better, and Halak can repeat exceptional performance. In
this state of mind, he can become almost invincible.

During the game he was able to maintain complete and continuous awareness, with precise sensing in the present situation and more, accurate anticipation of what the other team can do, what this player is just about to execute, in trying to fool him. This complete focus to the game, coolness in attitude, uttermost precision in every gesture, catching the puck as mature fruit even from the hardest shot, big pads moving so swiftly, all this inspired greatly every player in the defending team, back to the wall, facing elimination with admirable courage.

Capitals don’t know what to do differently to win. They will try still
harder to do what they always do : score a lot of goals, play most of
the time in attacking, indeed the best defense, when you can afford this
style. And sure they can, with all those individual all stars players.
Now, at the ultimate turn, last decisive game, they can not change their
style. They may try to do some odd things. Their first goal will be to
shake this confidence in Halak’s mind. To put him out of this invincible
mental state. If officials do their job right, they will earn costly
penalties in trying to charge the net and interfere with goalie. But I
have seen often officials not doing their job right. This is my main
question mark as a supporter of my team.

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