Alex Barkov vs John TavaresPower Profile: Barkov
When we talk about Alexander Barkov, we talk about how valuable he is all over the ice on a 200 foot ice surface. He’s one of the best puck-handling centermen in the NHL. He’s the trigger-man defensively to help out in the defensive zone. As soon as the Panthers get the puck back in the defensive zone, they usually try to hit Barkov for him to then lead the rush offensively. His capacity to feed his wingers in the offensive zone is off the charts, but one of the key elements of his game that nobody talks about is his skating. When he has a burst of speed it is second-to-none and it’s very hard to stop him once he’s in full stride. Today, I’d like to analyze what type of skater he is. We’ll look at his strengths and weaknesses while touching upon how coaches can work with players who have the same skating profile. Alex Barkov is the perfect subject for the Power profile skating type. This type of skater is regularly defined as one who’s stride phase is better than their “take off” phase. They are not necessarily quick or efficient on their starts, however once they are in stride, they are very difficult to contain/slow down. A Power skater is one who easily generates speed with each push. The flip side of this is that they could improve at conserving their energy on each stride, as they have tendency to use lots of energy and will often tire quite quickly. With this type of skater we can often notice some wasteful movements, primarily in the upper body- things such as an exaggerated use of their arms and shoulders. For this type of skater, we’d recommend working on their start acceleration. There are many off-ice exercises that can be recommended. Hip extension exercises would be important for improving the players ability to open their skate gait upon take off. In addition to this, an exercise that sees the player performing a 1-legged open, external foot rotation leap would zone in on them strengthening their support leg. We’re trying to have them really concentrate on finding their propulsion foot’s purpose. The player should focus on pushing as hard as possible to generate maximum power. On the ice, we’re looking to work the quality of their blade contact with the ice, specifically the top portion of their steel while they are in a forward-leaning take-off position. Using the arena dasher board is perfect to exaggerate this type of motion in static position. Additionally, performing starts on a clean sheet of ice will really help the player see and analyze his blade depth, his stride distance, but also the angle of his stride push and the length of the steel’s surface contact. Generally, with a Power skater type profile we’ll also see a need for the player to improve the speed of the « recovery » phase in their stride. A simple exercise that teaches good habits in this regard, would be to lay a couple of sticks in a line on the ice. The player would approach the line of sticks slowly and then proceed to accelerate quickly with a foot on each side of the line of sticks. Such an exercise should be done over 6 sets, 6-8 strides per set, with a rest period of 30 seconds between each set. The objective is to help improve stride recovery speed. This skating profile needs to learn to properly conserve their generated speed- and as such it’s extremely important for them to perform these recovery phase drills at game speed. Photo of blade contact and skate angle while in forward skating motion. This type of skater should regularly remind themselves of the following points, so they can be better at conserving their high-end speed over the course of a shift:
- Bring skate back under their body as quickly as possible
- Improve their glide phase with both skates on the ice
- Bring skate under their hip to immediately be able to use inside edge
- He does not exhibit many “exaggerated” horizontal body movements. His dekes are focused at the hands, shoulder and head level. And we’ll notice that he often has tendency to skate with two hands on his stick.
- He uses his propulsion arm along the horizontal plane. In the same direction as his stride. See photo.
- Poor skate fitting (length, width, blade profiling)
- One leg that is shorter than other
- Hip displacement
- Body imbalance and/or foot/ankle problem.