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very, very basic hockey primer

This is mostly for gryfndor_godess, but if anyone else feels in want of a barebones hockey primer, lo, here one is for your use. Beware that I've only been watching for six months, so although AFAIK everything I'm saying here is correct, so. Corrections welcome! This is also NHL specific and subject to change as the NHL changes rules.

* Objective: get the puck in the goal. Team with most goals win.

* Game is split into three periods of 20 mins each with intermissions in between.

* Most of the time each team has on the ice three offensive players (called forwards: a center, a left wing, and a right wing), two defensive players, and a goalie, for a total allowed of six. When both teams have a goalie and five non-goalie players (collectively called skaters), this is called "Five on five" or 5x5.

* Most players play between 10-20 minutes a night. Defensive players play more minutes than offensive players. A goalie plays the full game unless he's pulled for some reason.

* A team dresses a total of twenty players for a game: two goalies (one of whom only plays in case of emergency), twelve forwards, and six defensemen. The twelve forwards are organized into four lines, called the first, second, third, and fourth lines. Each line has a center, a left wing, and a right wing. The order of the lines isn't determined by which line plays first, but by the kind of hockey they play. (EDIT: Although nowadays, when skill is valued on all four lines, minutes are the key determinant.)

The top line typically has the very best players; Sidney Crosby is the Pens' top line center. These are the skill players who are fast and have good hands and a good ability to read plays, and they are expected to score more than any of the other lines. The second line has the same kinds of skills but maybe aren't quite as good, or the players might have skill sets that complement each other differently than on the first line. The second line is also expected to score.

The third and fourth lines are primarily expected to help keep the other team from scoring while the first and second lines catch their breath. They tend to be bigger, more physical, less skilled, and cheaper. One or two of them might serve as agitators for the team, which means they're good at annoying the other team with their play so that the other team takes penalties. One or two might also be the team's fighters. (More on that below.)

That said, third and fourth liners aren't necessarily BAD and due to their physicality may still score some goals. Also some coaches use systems that encourage the third and fourth lines to score, too. Teams that expect scoring from all four lines are said to "roll four lines."

* Players get off and on the ice on the fly, while play is still going on. This can be tricky! A "too many men" penalty happens when more players are on ice for a team than they are supposed to have. During normal play, that's six players (including goalie).

* If a team is down by one or two goals in the last minutes of the game, they might pull their goalie and put on another skater, creating a 6x5 situation. The hope is that their greater numbers will prevent the opposing team from getting the puck all the way down the ice and scoring an empty-net goal ("empty netter"), but this doesn't always work. Also, very occasionally a team will accidentally put a goal in its own empty net. This is absolutely glorious every time it happens. For example, here's Steven Stamkos doing it last year. (FYI a goal accidentally put in your net by your own team is called an "own goal.")

* If a player gets a minor penalty, he will be put in the penalty box for two mins, and meanwhile his teammates can't replace him, so play is 5x4. The team with five players on the ice is said to be on the power play, and the team with four players is said to be on the penalty kill. If the team on the power play scores a goal, the penalty ends.

A player might also get a double minor penalty of four mins, most often because he drew blood from the other player. More than one player can get a penalty in the same two minutes, so 5x3 and 4x4 situations are also possible, to name two. See list of penalty definitions.

* A player who gets a major penalty spends five minutes in the box. Most often this is for fighting. Although it appears to be on the wane, fighting is still very much part of hockey culture. It isn't nearly as exciting as it sounds, though, because they're still on skates, and as soon as one of them goes down a ref will end it, so it mostly looks like two guys trying to hug and punch each other at the same time. After the refs end the fight (usually when one player falls onto the ice), each player gets a five-minute penalty and they are replaced by their teams, so play is still 5x5. If a player is considered to have instigated the fight, he might also accrue additional penalties, but refs don't call instigation penalties very often.

* A delayed penalty occurs when the team without the puck does something illegal (slash, holding, etc). The ref holds his arm up to signal the delayed penalty, and play continues until the penalized team touches the puck, at which point the play is blown dead and the penalized player goes to the box. For this reason, if the team not getting penalized has the puck for any significant time, their goalie skates to the bench and another skater gets on the ice, called the "extra attacker." If the team with the puck scores before play stops, then the penalty is considered served and they don't get a power play.

* Stoppages of play result in players facing off to try and get possession of the puck. Common reasons for stoppages of play include offside play (a player enters the offensive zone before the puck does; this is why it's so important for dmen to keep the puck inside the offensive zone, because if it gets out, then all the team's players have to exit the zone and then send the puck in first again), icing (when the puck is sent too far down the ice without touching a player), the puck going off the glass or out of play, the team possessing the puck getting a penalty, and a goalie's net becoming unmoored or his helmet falling off.

* In case of a tie, the game goes into overtime. During the regular season, first there is a five-minute sudden death overtime period played 4x4 3x3 (a new rule as of 2015-2016!). The first team to get a goal wins the game. If neither team scores, then the game goes to a shootout. Teams switch off sending lone skaters out to try to score against the opposing goalie, and the team that gets the most goals in three shootout attempts wins These are a lot of fun. Think of the girl goalie in the end of Mighty Ducks 2. :D

But! During the playoffs, if the game ends in a tie, then after intermission play continues in overtime periods of 20 mins until someone finally scores a goal. And no TV breaks, either! These can really become endurance tests for the players.

* In the NHL, a team that wins gets 2 points, a team that loses in overtime gets 1 point, and a team that loses in regulation gets 0 points. Rankings in a division are determined by number of points. 82 games are played in a regular season, and anything more than 100 points is quite good and probably ensures the team a playoff spot.

* PLAYOFFS. They go forever. Twelve teams start in the playoffs, and pairs play best-of-seven series until there are two teams left, who play for the Stanley Cup Final.


I'm sure I'm missing crucial things here; if someone has something I should add, tell me. But these are the basic basics.

Crossposted from Dreamwidth. Comment here or there. (comment count unavailable DW replies)


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 1st, 2014 11:03 pm (UTC)
Oooh this is so awesome, thank you!! :DDD
Oct. 1st, 2014 11:07 pm (UTC)
You are welcome. <3
Oct. 1st, 2014 11:44 pm (UTC)
This is pretty good, as far as I can tell!

A quick thing: fighters don't necessarily get the same number of penalty minutes. Anyone who fights gets a major penalty. But if one's determined to be an instigator (starts the fight) and/or aggressor (continues punching an unwilling or clearly defeated opponent), they accrue more penalties.

from da rules:

A player who is deemed to be the instigator of an altercation shall be assessed an instigating minor penalty, a major penalty for fighting and a ten-minute misconduct.

A player who is deemed to be the aggressor of an altercation shall be assessed a major penalty for fighting and a game misconduct.

A player who is deemed to be both the instigator and aggressor of an altercation shall be assessed an instigating minor penalty, a major penalty for fighting, a ten-minute misconduct (instigator) and a game misconduct penalty (aggressor).

Okay, and another quick thing: I'd add that the shootout has coaches sending out players to go 1x1 against the goalie in groups of 3, with the best of the 3 attempts winning the game.
Oct. 2nd, 2014 02:13 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I was trying to not get any more complicated than I already was re: penalties. I can add a line about there being exceptions. Obviously there's tons of stuff I didn't touch on here at all.
Oct. 2nd, 2014 03:11 pm (UTC)
I would just say something like "Blah blah both players get a five minute major penalty for fighting but can accrue additional penalties depending on who started the fight, who kept it going, and how the fight went blah blah."
Oct. 2nd, 2014 03:55 pm (UTC)
Yeah, that's pretty much what I have now. :)
Oct. 4th, 2014 09:27 pm (UTC)
I'm just sitting on the sidelines waiting for someone to do a dragon!hockey au in an a/o/b universe. I probably won't read it, but I will be very pleased with its existence.
Oct. 4th, 2014 10:34 pm (UTC)
Surely it's only a matter of time.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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