We learned today that Coach Sutter, in an attempt to force the rag-tag group of lunkheads called the New Jersey Devils to be “intense” rather than just plain “tense”, had the guys partaking in fun games at the beginning and end of practice. Whether this move works will remain to be seen until the final buzzer against the Pens on Tuesday (oh, who are we kidding? The game is very likely to be over waaaay before the final buzzer), but we think it’s an experiment worth exploring. Today’s practice included some sort of game involving two pucks (like that’s going to help our befuddled PP — it can’t handle one puck!) and some sort of other game involving moving the nets in (can we attach the nets to the forwards to remind them what their objective is?). We’d like to suggest the following games to the Devils coaching staff for future practices:
1. Battle Cribbage Zach Parise’s goal-scoring drought is really starting to wear on the team. Perhaps spending practice playing his favorite game would boost his confidence and spark a new scoring streak to set the team’s offense into motion before the playoffs start. Several boards could be set up around the rink and a round robin tourney could be played out over the course of practice. Push-ups would be required for all muggins (or points missed). If nothing else this game will bolster the boys’ math skills. Since cribbage requires some ability to add numbers, maybe the players would be reminded that the team with the higher number of goals scored wins.
2. Giontamari When we get down and discouraged about hockey we turn to a game that is pure fun — Katamari Damacy. Just like pashas playing human chess, Sutter could create a human Katamari Damancy by tucking Gionta into the smallest ball he can be, wrapping him in sticky tape, and then letting the other players take turns rolling him over various objects and foodstuff strewn around the ice. If electronic Katamari can soothe us after disastrous games like Saturday’s, surely human Katamari can get this derailed train back on track!
3. I’m Going On A Picnic And I Brought This fun and interactive game combines knowing the alphabet and an ability to remember and repeat phrases. The game can be played away from the ice as well — during team meals, on the plane, in closed-door, player-only meetings. While this doesn’t directly address any specific hockey skills, it does encourage the players to learn how to remember and recreate simple instructions, say, for example, what the coach tells them during practice, intermissions, and even time outs.
4. Blob Tag We have no idea what purpose this game serves, but we always had to play it on team-building exercises when we were in high school. Surely a few feisty rounds of it will help the Devils get back on course.
5. Newcomb Hearkening back again to our school days, we find ourselves turning to Newcomb, the bobo version of volleyball that we played in grade school. Of course, we had co-ed gym classes, so we grew up thinking one of the official rules of Newcomb was that a girl had to touch the ball at least once before it could be tossed over the net. In coach Sutter’s case, he can have the guys play a dumbed-down version of volleyball on ice that would require that at least one of the lousy d-men has to be involved in each play. We can vouch for how much better this will make Greene, Rachunek, Vishnevski and Brookbank feel about themselves. And we can vouch for how much it will probably make the other guys resent them, but whatever.
6. The “Fun Power Play Practice” Game This “game” is one in which the participants practice things like “scoring on the power play” and “not giving up shorthanded goals”. It’s really fun.