Hockey: For Dummies


all photos courtesy of Google images

Katie Shaw, Staff Writer

          As the NHL playoffs season commences and it becomes rather difficult to entirely avoid any mention of hockey, I thought it would be a great time to dive into another topic not many of us understand. This time, however, I should sound more educated, seeing as hockey is the reason for my existence. Considering it can be extremely confusing even trying to see the puck, and most people think hockey is just a branch of the WWE, I present Hockey: For Dummies.

      Let’s start with the basics.

-The National Hockey League, or NHL, is the prominent world hockey league. If you’ve heard of hockey, it’s probably dealing with the NHL. The NHL has 32 teams as of right now that are separated into conferences, and then further into divisions, based on where the team is located in the U.S.


-Regular hockey season is from October to early April, in which time 82 games are played (If a team makes the playoffs, they will play for longer and play more games, depending on how far they make it). Hockey has the longest season of any physical, league sport.

-A hockey game has 3 20-minute periods, with an intermission between each. Both teams can only have 6 men on the ice at one time, including the goalies. Players are trying to get the puck into the opposing team’s goal; each time they do, their team gets a “goal”. If both teams are tied in goals by the end of the 3 periods, they go into what is called overtime, where 5 players from each team play for 5 minutes. The first team to get a goal in that time wins. If no team scores a goal then, the teams go into a shootout, where a single player from each team attempts to best the lone goalie and score. (In the playoffs, overtimes are played the same as regulation, and shootouts are not allowed.

-If a team is penalized, examples include high-sticking or tripping, the offending player is sent to the penalty box where they will wait while their team has one fewer player.

-For each game a team wins, they receive 2 points in the league standings. If the team wins in overtime of a game, they get 1 point.

-Finally, the end-game of hockey is known as the Stanley Cup. Similar to other sports, who makes the playoffs is decided by the current standings and how they rank in their division. In order to win the esteemed honor of “the cup”, a team has to make it through 3 rounds of playoffs and win in the finals.

        Now let me clear this up: Hockey is not just about the fighting. Yes, hockey is the sport it is because it does allow it to a degree. However, violent fights may be punished in-game, and fighting doesn’t happen as much as it did in the past. 20 years ago, every player would be ready to knock some teeth out at any second. Nowadays, the NHL has far more consideration for the safety of the players. The referees often won’t let fights carry on, but if they do, both parties, the player who started the fight, or the player who was doing a majority of the beating will be put into the penalty box for up to 5 minutes, depending on the severity of the fight.

         So who’s who in hockey? Currently left in the playoffs are the Las Vegas Golden Knights, the Washington Capitals, the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Winnipeg Jets, and the Nashville Predators.  At the end of the 2018 regular season, the Nashville Predators led the National Hockey league in number of points, thus earning them the President’s trophy. The Montreal Canadiens boast the highest number of Stanley Cups won, with 23 cups over their 101 years (they are the oldest team and a part of the original 6 NHL teams in 1917).

        Hockey is a rich sport formed by the combination of the best aspects of other sports you may already know and love. It’s intense, aggressive, and has one of the best fan bases in sports. Even if you’re not a hockey nut, it’s worth seeing a game. Who knows, it may just become your new favorite sport.