My first introduction to Perry came while sitting in the rafters years ago at Honda Center watching a game with my little brother giving me background on each player. (As a Chicago Blackhawks fan by nature, my love for Anaheim had to be taught.) When the puck hit Perry’s stick for a play all my brother said was, “Corey Perry. He is our clutch.”
But over the course of the 2013 playoffs Perry went virtually unseen — a contributing factor to Anaheim’s first round exit at the hands of the Detroit Red Wings. This left a summer full of questions regarding Perry’s recent eight-year contract extension and his ability to still close out games in dramatic fashion.
This season’s story is a far different one. Perry’s play has left little for questioning with 28 goals (ranked 5th in the NHL) and 52 points to date. It seems he has found his groove again on the “kid line,” as they were called in their rookie days, with Anaheim Captain Ryan Getzlaf and Duck returnee Dustin Penner.
He might also credit the success to something a little less physical but all too common in hockey. Superstition. Or repetition, as most like to call it. During the first installment of the NBC Sports reality show NHL Revealed, fans were given an eye opening look into Perry’s world prior to puck drop. These behaviors range from specifically numbered sticks (teammates tease that Perry “thinks” they each weigh differently), to a back pounding ritual with Getzlaf prior to leaving the locker room, to tapping the tunnel door frame in the same place repeatedly before walking through. Perry’s demeanor on the ice is a direct result of cautious habit off of it.
And perhaps this is the greatest key to Perry’s high-flying game. Many can argue small scale repetition of hitting doorway frames for wins is strange, but few can argue the repercussions of repetition on a much grander scale. The countless hours of practice, consistently going to greasy parts of the net, playing a full 60 minutes every night and molding phenomenal skill to uniquely battle each team are all key to success. Visit the Honda Center on any given game night and Perry is the last skater off the ice during warm-ups.
Repetition makes perfect, and Perry’s season thus far can be described as such, having rightfully left behind everything surrounding last season’s bitter ending. Except for those rituals. The rituals seem here to stay.