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

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


The month of December has made the majority of Habs fans feel a little more than disheartened. We lose the games that we should be winning, are massacred by the tough teams, and are really noticing the lack of Andrei Markov on the blue line.

When #79 was injured AGAIN, I decided that the man of glass needed to go. Having him on LTR makes things easier salary cap wise, as is evident by the recent acquisition of Wisniewski from the NY Islanders. That being said, we should have the talent to not miss Markov all that much, but this is not the case. Our defensemen are exhausted, and it's really starting to show. Josh Gorges, the trooper, has been playing through some undisclosed injury, and hasn't been able to play to his full potential. Hamrlik and Spacek are simply too old for the minutes they've been getting (Spaco played around 24 minutes in the last game against Washington - far too much), Picard & Weber are still learning, and Subban appears to have lost his mojo, being that the Habs played better this month in the games he was scratched. I'm sincerely hoping that having Wisniewski will take some of the pressure off our vets, as we need them to stay healthy and focused for the remainder of the season, otherwise they won't have anything left to give come playoff time.

As a life-long, die-hard Habs fan, I have an inherent inability to give up on the bleu blanc rouge. Whether we're winning 5-1, or down 3-0, I'm with the team from beginning to end. That's what makes slumps like the one we're currently in all the more depressing; you're forced to watch the love of your life struggle. That being said, I think that what the Habs need is to find their confidence again. We need to win against teams like NYI, and we definitely need to win games against teams in our division if we want to keep being seeded to a top 3 position in the conference. Our recent misfortune, and the Bruins strong play as of late, has forced the Habs from 3rd to 8th place overnight.

I also want to point out that while this slump has proven to be extremely disappointing for Habs players and fans, it is only December, we still hold a playoff spot & there is plenty of time left for the Habs to turn things around. I'm going to stick to my pre-season prediction of the Habs finishing 3rd in the east. All this to say, Habs fans: chill.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

PK Circus

Over the course of the season thus far, I have been relieved in terms of one thing: goaltending controversy. Every morning on game day, every Habs fan and sportscaster had one thing on their minds: "who's going to be between the pipes tonight?" I must admit that it's nice for the focus to be off the goaltender (not to downplay Carey Price's play this season, in fact, I mean quite the opposite. His play has been not only stellar and consistent, but extraordinary. It's hard to argue against the fact that we have at least a Vezina candidate on our hands, if not Hart as well, but I digress.) This season, however, there appears to be a whole new controversy of its own, aptly nicknamed "the PK circus".

To think of this season as Subban's rookie season can be almost difficult for some Montrealers, being that he really burst onto the scene during the playoffs last season. That being said, he is still a rookie with a lot to learn, which most people seem to be forgetting. Jacques Martin's decision to scratch PK for the past 2 games, as well as neglecting him from tonight's starting lineup against the Ottawa Senators, has caused somewhat of a raucous in this town. I'll be the first to admit that I am most definitely Team PK, and I think that his cockiness and trash talk on the ice are more of a benefit than a hinderance. However, before dumping on JM and doubting the organization's competence, let's look at this from all angles.

The first of which being the fact that the Habs have won both games that PK did not play in. This may be a coincidence or it may be a result of the more than adequate play coming from Weber. Whatever the reason, most coaches don't mess with a winning formula, and JM may be exercising a little superstition here. The fact that PK is being scratched from his 3rd straight game may have very little to do with "teaching him a lesson".

Whatever the case may be, I really don't think the sole reason for removing PK from the line up is due to a few bad turnovers. There is a lot to the story that we DON'T know, as Pierre Maguire pointed out during an on-air call with Mitch Melnick on Team 990 this afternoon. For all we know, PK may have a sprain, or a pulled groin, or some other minor nagging injury that the organization doesn't want made public knowledge.

Another complaint from fans (who, by the way, I didn't know you were a paid coach for the Montreal Canadiens? Clearly you must know more than the experienced coaching and management staff...) is the fact that this 3 game healthy scratch seems like a random, sudden, guillotine move. Ohhhhh I wasn't aware that all of you followed PK Subban around 24/7! How do you know that the coaching staff hadn't already spoken to him about his "attitude"? How do you know his teammates didn't approach him about his "poor play"? With Markov on LTIR, the team couldn't afford to reduce his ice time, and this probably seemed like the best option.

What it all boils down to, is however you feel about the situation, the team did alright in PK's absence, and got the 2 W's. Now I miss my triple low 5's as much as the next Habs fan, and I do agree that 3 games is a little extreme to keep him out of the lineup, but I'm able to admit that there's probably more to the story. Why can't the rest of this city?