Thursday, December 30, 2010

20 Things You Need to Know About Hockey

My best friend, who has never really cared much about hockey (settle down, kids), has recently expressed interest in learning about it. In an effort to help her do so, I've prepared this list:

1) Each team plays with 3 forwards (centreman, left wing, right wing), 2 defensemen & a goalie, on a rotating basis.

2) The purpose of the game is to score more goals than the other team. In fact, if you can prevent the other team from scoring any goals at all (aka “a shutout”), even better.

3) While hockey may seem comparable to the events gladiators partook in, there are rules and boundaries. Offences which are not allowed and result in penalties include:

a) Boarding: checking someone so they’re thrown violently against the board.
b) Charging: taking more than 3 skating strides before checking
c) Cross-checking: checking with both hands on your stick & no part of stick on ice
d) Delay of game: when the puck goes over the glass without being deflected, if a player other than the goaltender closes their hand around the puck, or if a player intentionally knocks the net loose (if the net is knocked loose, the whistle is always blown and play is stopped, therefore intentionally causing this is penalized).
e) Elbowing: hitting an opposing player with your elbow
f) High-sticking: hitting an opposing player with your stick above shoulder level
g) Holding: preventing your opponent from moving in some way (with your hands, stick, etc)
h) Hooking: using the blade of the stick to “hook” an opposing player, with the intention of preventing them from moving
i) Interference: contact with a player who is not in possession of the puck
j) Slashing: hitting an opposing player with your stick
k) Tripping: this should be self-explantory. If it’s not, ask me.

4) In the event of a penalty (generally a minor, 2 minutes), the penalized team plays without that player for the given amount of time (presumably at a disadvantage). Longer penalties are given depending on the severity of the infraction, constituting major penalties.

***Penalty shot: this happens when a player had a breakaway opportunity (a solo sprint towards the opposing team’s net) and was fouled from behind. They are given a chance to have a one-on-one shot with the goalie. It’s pretty exciting when this happens.***

5) The team that has a player in the penalty box goes on the “penalty kill” (affectionately referred to as “going on the PK”, not to be confused with Habs rookie defenseman PK Subban. Fun fact! PK stands for Pernell Karl).

6) The team that has the advantage (ie: the opposing team is on the penalty kill) has a “power play”.

***If the team that is about to go on the power play has possession of the puck, the referee will signal a “delayed penalty”, indicating he will only call the penalty once the about-to-be-penalized-team touches the puck. In this case, you will often see the about-to-go-on-the-power-play-team pull their goaltender to add an extra attacker, and increase their chance of scoring (the odds of them getting scored on are little to none, being that there will be a whistle as soon as an opposing player touches the puck).***

7) Offside = bad. When skating into the other team’s zone (btw, “the other team’s zone” would be where their goalie is), you must make sure that the puck crosses the blue line before either you or your teammates do. If you screw this up, the whistle will be blown, the play will be stopped, and a faceoff will be had.

8) A faceoff. This is when the referee drops the puck & the 2 centremen duke it out for possession of the puck. Possession of the puck = control of the game.

9) Icing. Here’s where it gets tricky. Rather than confuse you, click here.

10) Hockey players like to rough each other up. In fact, checking (hitting) one another is necessary. It’s basically the “my penis is bigger than yours” aspect of hockey. But we’ll accept it.

11) Fights are also an integral part of the sport. It is proper hockey etiquette to inform the buddy you’re watching the game with who has left the room to grab a beer or go to the bathroom, that there is a fight by crudely shouting “FIGHT!!!”, so they can rush back into the room. Just so you have an idea as to how much fans love their hockey fights, click here.

12) Should the game be tied, current NHL rules dictate that a 5 minute overtime period will be played, and if a determining goal is not scored, the game goes to a shootout (similar concept to the penalty shot, except it’s a best out of 3 scenario).

13) Beer is the drink of choice when watching hockey. Should you feel the need to stray, Jack & Coke, or rum & coke are your only other options. You may also institute a drinking game of sorts (there’s a pretty neat Pierre Maguire one going around lately) in which case, shots of hard alcohol are permitted, however under no circumstances should a martini or cosmo be consumed while watching a hockey game.

14) The Stanley Cup is what is awarded to the winning team. Any hockey fan needs to make a pilgrimage to the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto at some point in their lives, to have their photo taken with the Cup. It is a transcendent experience. This pretty much sums up how I felt when I saw the Cup in real life:

Video from "One Week" - The Harold Greenberg Fund, Mulmur Feed Co., Téléfilm Canada.

15) The Habs are the greatest team of all time. 24 Stanley cups, more than any other team, 2nd place going to the Toronto Maple Leafs, having only 13. The Leafs are the worst team of all time. This has very little to do with skill (although, these days, they really are one of the league’s worst teams), but more of a mindset. If you are a Habs fan, by default, you can’t stand the Leafs. The Bruins kinda stink in your mind as well. And the Flyers, due to them eliminating us in the playoffs last season. Grrrrr…

16) La ville est hockey. Living in Montreal, the saying “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” truly applies. It’s hard NOT to be an avid hockey fan in this city. We will argue about prospects and unrestricted free agents in August, long after the season has ended, and long before the next one will begin. It’s just a part of life.

17) When going to a Habs game, you cannot arrive late. With the storied franchise, pregame is everything. When Coldplay’s “Fix You” comes on and the little kids skate out carrying massive Habs flags, donning mini Habs uniforms, your heart will be touched in ways you’ll never be able to describe.

18) It is important to learn what the Habs look like without sweat, blood, uniforms and helmets. If you ever run into them in real life, you don’t want to look like a tool. For help, click here. Always keep yourself updated on the latest moves. You can do so by following me on twitter @ladyhabs – wait, you already follow me on Twitter?! Great! J

19) Hockey & Hadleigh both start with “H”. Alliteration. Need I say more?

20) Actually, I do have to say one more thing. This is the greatest hockey video. Ever. Watch it:

Video from Annakin Slayd.

Go Habs Go <3

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