NHL - New York Rangers at Phoenix Coyotes

17 December, 2011 at 22:08 (GMT)

By Adie Brown

Hello to you all, Adie here. You might know me from such things as Twitter and I can’t believe that in the 3 years I’ve been commenting on SPC this is my first guest post. Feel a bit bad really as Christine wrote some great pieces for my old blog(s) F1TailPipe and the well intentioned, but critically time consuming ezine F1Weekender.

You join us today for Sidepodcast’s first ever live commenting on a NHL Ice Hockey game. Mr C. wrote to me in the week and asked if I would be around to help comment / explain on the nuances of the sport as I’m a massive New York Rangers fan. Hopefully we’ll be watching their game against the Coyotes tonight. Stream being available.

So, simply put….what is Hockey (not "Ice Hockey" I might add…)

It is as the NHL describes it “the fastest team sport in the world”. It’s a 60 minute, 6 vs 6 game split into 3 20 minute periods. And every second counts – when the play stops, so does the clock.

The object of the game is to shoot the puck into the opposition net. Sounds easy? It’s not! Hockey is famously a rough game, and as long as you don’t skate into someone and lead with your stick “Cross checking”, intentionally skate them into the boards with the intent to injure “Boarding” or use your stick to trip “Hooking” pretty much anything goes – as this video shows!

[youtube id="o0pqSsgX2dw"]

Now, that’s not to be said that it’s a free for all out there. There are rules, you can’t just go around beating people up. I’ll try to be around to explain what’s going on. But one thing you have a 50/50 chance of seeing is a fight. Usually they start if one player feels that another has taken liberties on the ice so, they’ll duke it out mano-a-mano. However, there’s a strict code of conduct here.

Both fighters need to be willing. They indicate this by “dropping gloves” – shaking their protective gloves to the ice. Usually the refs will try to break up a scuffle, but dropped gloves indicates them to back away. Both players will now fight until one goes to the ice. At this point, they’ll be given a 5 minute penalty each and sat in the “sin bin”.

Other penalties are explained here. I suggest you read them if you get the chance.

When a penalty is called, the offending player will, for a minor penalty receive 2 minutes in the box. His team will player with a man down on the ice for the duration of the penalty – or until the team on the ‘Power Play’ scores. Both teams then return to full strength.

A 5 minute penalty is called for a major foul, and a “game” penalty if you’ve been a particular idiot. A game penalty is Hockey’s version of a red card, and the offending player is sent off. However, his team doesn’t play with a man down outside of a 2 or 5 minute foul for the offence.


You will here commentators make reference to “lines”. These are the offensive or defensive players on the ice. Both teams will have 4 lines of 3 man offensive players –Left-Wing, Centre and Right-Wing and 4 lines of 2 man defensive units. Plus a goal keeper on the ice.

Any team can have 6 players on the ice at a time – 5 skaters and 1 ‘keeper. These are swapped ad-hoc and different lines will be used a different times of the game – typically a teams’ best players will be on the first 2 offensive / defensive lines. These players will get the majority of the time on the ice.

If the there is one goal in the game, then the losing team will usually take their keeper off in the last minute of a game and replace him with another skater to force an equalising goal. This is at the risk of the other team scoring in the empty net however.


What I like about American sports is….you can’t draw. There must be a winner and a loser. If at the end of the 60 minutes, known as regulation time the scores are tied then there will be a 5 minute period of overtime played – first to score wins. Both teams will play with a 5 players to open up the ice. If after overtime the scores are still tied then there will be a best of 3 shootout, with sudden death deciding the winner if that’s still tied.

I can’t really explain any more as you’ll understand more by watching!

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