So I decided to jot down a few quick tips to enhance your understanding and enjoyment of the game*:
> First of all - the sport is called "hockey". That's it - just "hockey". Calling a sport that was originated to be played on ice "ice hockey" is redundant, and will not be tolerated.
> The boys that play hockey have little-to-no imagination when it comes to nicknames. Football has "Broadway Joe" and "The Refrigerater"; basketball has "Magic" and "Wilt the Stilt"; and baseball is a mecca for cool nicknames - "the Yankee Clipper", "Shoeless Joe", "the Babe", "Big Papi" and, my personal favourite, "the Big Unit".
Hockey? Not so much.
There are some cool names sprinkled throughout the NHL's history - "the Great One", "Sid the Kid", "the Rocket" and "Moose" - but hockey nicknames are usually limited to some variation of the players' name: Ryan Smyth = "Smytty", Ryan Jones = "Jonesy", or Dwayne Roloson = "Rolli".
Maybe all the concussions stifle their creativity...
> A good game of hockey is fast-paced and there are a lot of goals. A great game of hockey is when the 2 teams spend 60 minutes trying to beat the crap out of each other while hopefully getting a goal or two in the process.
> Despite all the hitting, tripping, slashing and outright pummeling - the boys who play hockey are an unnaturally sweet and polite bunch.
It always amazes me when I happen to see an interview with a football or a basketball player - it's always "I'm the greatest! Didja see what I did out there? I am so awesome! Me! Me! ME!"
Most hockey players are the exact opposite. The emphasis is always on the team - "The team really came together to pick up a win. I scored my goal because of the great teamwork on the ice. We. We. We."
They make the sport seem almost...civilized.
> The boys who play hockey are crazy tough (emphasis on crazy). It is not uncommon for a player to get injured - say, take a puck to the face - get 12 stitches under their eye while sitting on the bench, and be back on the ice for their next shift.
> If you listen to the running commentary during a hockey game, it sounds much more exciting (read: dirty) that it really is. Phrases like "taking it from behind" just means to get hit in the back, having to "get it up to push it in" means to lift the puck off the ice to shoot it past the goalie, a "poke check" is poking the puck away from an opposing player with your stick, and "slipping it in between the goalie's legs" is just shooting the puck through the 5-hole...which is, uhm, between the goalie's legs....which still sounds kind of dirty.
Don't even get me started on how the player's grip their shaft!
> And then there is the hair. But that is a post for another day...
*OK, so nothing that I discussed in this post will actually help you whatsoever when it comes to watching the game.