Posted by Greg Carter
There have been some awesome games in the NHL Playoffs. And nothing is bigger than a Game 7, when everything is on the line. One team goes home to get the golf clubs out of the basement, and the other advances one step closer to hockey’s biggest prize.
So what does it really take to win that decisive Game 7? What separates the winners? Sometimes it takes a combination of puck luck, momentum and of course hard work, but in all my years around the game both as a player and training hockey players, I’ve come to see some similarities among players who more times than not find themselves on the winning side of the scoreboard.
It’s important to understand that these are not just player traits that appear on the eve of a Game 7, instead they are engrained in a player from the time they learn to love the game and compete. Thinking back to the great players that I’ve played with and coached, they always seemed to bump up their game and take it to another level when the stakes got higher. The good players got great, and their ability to keep bringing the magic that it takes to win was even more evident in the biggest games.
These are the players, and I see them today at the youth level, that get off the ice after a shift and are so ‘wired’ that they can’t sit still on the bench to rest, they have to lean against the boards and watch every minute, every second of the game. They can’t wait to get back onto the ice for their chance to score the deciding goal.
Not all players are like this. Some players don’t have that killer instinct as they fear giving up the big goal more than they do putting it all on the line to be the hero.
So what are some secrets, both as a player and a team, to winning a Game 7?
- Ability to play with a ‘win at all cost’ mentality. This means doing everything possible, every shift to make sure you are always in the best position to have an impact.
- High Risk / High Reward. Great players are not afraid to take chances to score the big goal. They have the confidence in themselves that given the chance, they will beat the odds and score the goal.
- Confidence. It may sounds simple, but confidence goes a long way in winning. When a team hits the ice with confidence, you notice. And when you execute on your confidence and get the job done, oftentimes you win the game!
- Hard work. Nothing compares to hard work. So often one team may look flat, while the other is buzzing around like gnat. Is one team really flat, or is the other just out working and out skating them?
- Rely on what got you there. And this is the key, that to win the Game 7 you have to recognize that all the long hours of dedication, practice and persistence all plays out in dramatic fashion. Sure, all the players have put in the time, but the best of the best are the ones who do just that little bit more.
Enjoy the rest of the NHL Playoffs and good luck scoring the big one in your next big game!