So, Mr. (or Mrs.) ESPN watcher, you want to get into hockey? Here’s a crash course on what you need to know.
Surely you know about injured Penguins star Sidney Crosby…and that guy with the sweet mustache hoisting the Stanley Cup in the Sportscenter intro montage. And…well, yeah, that’s about it.
Let’s talk greatest players in hockey history. Wayne Gretzky owns 60 NHL records so he is considered by most to be the greatest hockey player of all time. Unless of course, you’re a Flames fan, then you probably think it’s someone else (anyone else but him!) Or a Penguins fan, in which case it’s got to be Mario Lemieux, who was a great player in his own right. Maybe you’re a Bruins fan and campaign for Bobby Orr to get that title. But if you really want to end a debate, just mention Gordie Howe. Most people who know how to use the internet never saw him play in his prime so it is just widely accepted that he’s great too.
Who should I root for?
This could be a tricky question. But there are NHL teams similar to some in the other three leagues.
For example, if you’re a San Diego Chargers fan, you may enjoy the Washington Capitals. Both have plenty of talent on paper and have a problem advancing deep into the playoffs. Fan of the New York Yankees? Root for the Florida Panthers, who throw around enough money in the offseason to seemingly construct an entirely new roster. Are you a Kansas City Royals fan? Join the Islanders bandwagon! Like short people? You fit in as a Canadiens fan. Montreal has only two skaters over 6’2 on their roster (Mike Blunden, Hal Gill). Nuggets fan? Like rooting for good teams with no big stars on it? Start following the St. Louis Blues.
But my favorite team isn’t on National TV…
This could be a big problem if you don’t root for Boston, Chicago, Detroit, New York (R), Philadelphia, Pittsburgh or Washington. A couple other teams sneak onto NBC or NBCSN, but this used be an accident on their part. If you want to follow another team and you’re out of market, you can buy Center Ice, which is a year long subscription to see most NHL games (some in HD!).
Thankfully, with the new NBCSN, we’re getting to see teams and players that were once thought as mythical. Steven Stamkos has scored 129 goals in the past two seasons plus this half season. However, it seems like none of those goals have been on national television. If you only watch NBC, you may not know there is a 4th place Western Conference team in Nashville. It’s true, check the standings!
What exactly is the shootout?
Good question. The shootout was implemented after the lockout in order to eliminate ties. After 65 minutes of team play if the score is still tied, teams will head to an individual competition, with the team scoring the most goals after three attempts (or more if the teams remain tied) winning. Makes sense right? In addition, standings tiebreakers include most regulation/overtime wins. So the shootout only helps teams gain extra points, but can actually make them lose standings position.
Hopefully that helped you new hockey fans gain some knowledge of the game!