Shocking. Frustrating. Devastating. Not enough words to describe the New York Rangers double-overtime loss to the Washington Capitals. After battling valiantly, a tiny breakdown on the Rangers part cost them the game.
The Caps Jason Chimera (what a last name!) flew down toward the left circle and forced a shot on goal. Defensemen Brain McCabe made a great play, partially blocking the shot. The puck bounced and slid toward the prone Ranger goalie, Henrik Lundqvist. Trailing the play was Marian Gaborik, an overpriced player who scored his first goal in a blue moon earlier in the game.
As the puck slid to within two feet of Lundqvist, who would have easily smothered it, Gaborik waved his stick at it. He half hit it. Chimera, who had wisely skated to the goal mouth, received the puck in his chest. It dropped to goal line. Chimera stood there alone, behind Lundqvist, the puck at his feet. Time stood still for Ranger fans the world over. A millisecond later, bam, Chimera stuffed the puck into the net.
Game over. And, if the Rangers lose Saturday and exit the series, this could become Marian Gaborik’s “Joe Pisarcik” moment.
What a nice interview question for your next marketing manager candidate. Show him or her a video replay, then ask: What two mental mistakes did Marian Gaborik make on the play?
Here is what you should hear.
Gaborik reacted as most players are taught to – a loose puck in front of a goalie should be swept away. But Gaborik’s first mental mistake was not adjusting to the environment at hand. With a better sense of awareness, he would have seen Lundqvist was on his way out to, freely and clearly, cover the puck. One more second, and the whistle would have blown for a faceoff.
Awareness and confidence, not only in his goalie, but in himself, would have changed his decision.
Mistake #2 came when Gaborik opted to swat the puck randomly. He plainly did not keep Chimera in his actual sight, or in his mental sight (“I don’t see him, but based on where I saw him last he is probably standing at the goal mouth.”). That’s what it means when someone says “heads up” play. Gaborik’s move was one of desperation.
If your interview candidate doesn’t catch mistake #1, that says he or she may be too much of a rigid thinker for your organization, unable to adjust to new information. If he or she doesn’t catch mistake #2, that indicates your candidate won’t be much of an asset to help you think ahead one or two steps.