Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Shameless Plug for the Playoffs

If anyone out there--and based on my calculations, there probably aren't too many of you--follow hockey, I implore you to watch the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs this year. They are tons of fun, and they last from now until June. If you are not a hockey fan, or just don't get it, give it another shot. The best time to learn is in the post season because those who do know will be tickled pink to share their knowledge and love of the game with you in hopes that you too will get a little Cup Crazy.
    I'm a different breed, being raised on hockey, raised to believe that ice hockey is the greatest sport ever, and the Stanley Cup not only is, but deserves to be, the most sought after trophy in sports. My objective today is to convert a few of you out there to believe in hockey the way I do.

How To Become a Hockey Fan
Step 1: Turn on your TV. Versus and NBC (along with local affiliate stations) will be hosting the games live this year. You can pretty much count on games being on at 7pm ET every day of the week for the first round, which will last about 1-2 weeks from today. The best way to learn is to see it in action. (Pay no attention to the men behind the microphones who will favor Detroit no matter who's playing.)
Step 2: If you're not a lifelong puck-head like me, visit and to learn more about the game.
Step 3: Check out to find out which games are scheduled, as well as stats, polls, news and more.
Step 4: Choose your loyalties!! There are 30 to pick from, you can go with whoever's in your state, or nearby, or just pick one with a cool name, excellent players, or a stellar record.

Some Vocabulary: 
1) Dropping the gloves--There will be a fight. Yes, they pretty much box on skates.
2) He iced the puck--The puck was shot down the length of the ice in order to delay the game, drawing a penalty.
3) Drawing a penalty--Getting (see manipulating in some instances) the referees to call a penalty by making it obvious you were impeded during play
4) Five for fighting--Five minutes in the penalty box (or in the locker room if the period is almost over) for participating in a fight
5) Penalty shot--The rare reward for a penalty in which a player for the team who was impeded during the play gets to take a free shot at the opposing team's goalie to try to score a goal
6) Period--Hockey is divided into 3 periods of play, not quarters, or halves. It's Canadian, what can I say?
7) Goal--They're called goals, not points, when someone puts the puck past the goalie into the net.
8) Hat Trick--When a single player scores 3 goals in a single game.
9) Gordie Howe Hat Trick--named for Gordie Howe, a retired Detroit Red Wing player; when a single player gets an assist, a goal, and a fight in a single game
10) Five Hole--Beating the goalie through one of the five holes that his body creates between him and the net; Also a style of goaltending

There are more terms, but I can't go into every single one of them here. You can probably find some of them on the aforementioned websites, or learn them as the game is played. The commentators like to explain things more during the playoffs for people who are new to hockey.

Guide to Being a Hockey Fan: 
1) Fights are a part of the game. Just go with it. They rarely get too gory or dangerous.
2) Pick on the referees. They aren't perfect, and if they slight your team, they deserve all the insults you can throw at them.
3) Cheer loudly, whether you're at a sports bar, in your living room, or at the arena itself. The team deserves your support no matter where you're watching from.
4) Don't be a fair weather fan. Cheer and support your team through the good games and the bad. 
Lord Stanley is coming to town. WAY better than Santa Claus.

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