As if there weren’t enough major sporting events taking place this month, there’s tons of excitement revolving around the Stanley Cup playoffs! Five time champions Chicago Blackhawks are looking for their next title, while the Tampa Bay Lightning are looking for there second. Despite Chicago being the favorites, the Lightning do not seem to be backing down. Even taking a shocking series lead 2-1 in game three, the already fast paced game will be turn into an all out war after game 5.
What exactly is taking the Blackhawks by surprise? Anyone watching this series can visibly see the Lightning’s tenacity and work ethic. “Everybody talks about how offensive they are, but that’s the tightest checking team we’ve played all year. They’re not only tight-checking, they’re quick. They have good sticks and get in your way. They keep pressuring and keep coming,” said Blackhawks Centre (1).
That strength and quickness might be the difference in a potential seven game series. It’s about mastering the fundamentals. If it’s from youth hockey, to club or college hockey and hoping for that spot on a team during the draft, the fundamentals don’t change. Performance goals of hockey: strength, speed, agility, anaerobic power, and anaerobic capacity.
Checking? Who doesn’t love a good check in hockey? What is the science behind checking? Checking can be defined as using physical force (without breaking the rules) to either gain possession of the puck or to disrupt the opposition’s play (2). Checking is what makes hockey a “collision sport” opposed to a “contact sport”. And the science aspect all relates back to training; the best checkers do more to perfect their skill than just training on the ice. Structural balance is an absolute key component to achieving maximum speed, agility, strength, prevention of injury, and power output (3), which ranges from lower body to upper body, left side to right. Another advantage is increasing a player’s mobility which helps increase range of motion to utilize agility.
Could this be the year that youthful stamina out beats the experienced veterans? Or will the calm and composure lead to the ultimate patience. Who will be crowned champs? Who will shoot the ultimate “knuckle-puck” or field the best “flying-v”? Stay tuned!