The Downward Spiral

Posted: October 23, 2010 by Realdeal in NHL

The pass that normally goes to a teammate so easy gets intercepted and leads to a breakaway.  The routine save by a goaltender somehow trickles in.  The usually harmless poke check attempt that turns into a tripping penalty.  All examples of things that happen during the “Downward Spiral”.

Every team goes through the “Downward Spiral” at some point in a season.  The harder you fight, the more frustrated you get. Freak injuries happen.  Nothing works.  Everything seems to go wrong.  3-0 deficits seem like 10-0 deficits.  Players try to tie the game up with just one shot, and that’s just not realistic if you’re down by multiple goals.  In those late 3rd period games tied at 2, the thought can be “oh, how are we gonna blow this one?”

How does it start, you ask?  Usually by some bad luck.  It’s always uncontrollable.  A couple breaks going the wrong way and it starts snowballing from there.  Players start pressing and the frustration adds up when every little thing goes the wrong way.

Luckily for some teams, they’ll go through it earlier, as the worst time to go through it is obviously April.  Some teams will go through it multiple times.  It’s part of the natural evolution of a season that teams will go through ups and downs.  The key is for players to not get too low during the downs.  Fans can tell when players are frustrated, and most will understand as long as they’re trying their best, although it may not always seem that way.

Players just need to keep plugging away.  Maybe the team prankster pulls a joke in the locker room that lightens the mood.  Maybe a coach calls an early timeout and tells the team, “Let’s just get one goal before intermission.”  (Thanks, Peter Laviolette.)

And that’s when it happens. The team scores an ugly power play goal.  Hey, it’s a start, right?  Then, the breaks start turning as the hard work pays off.  Then, the thought process in those tied games late changes to “we’re going to win this, I know it!”

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