Monday, July 18, 2011

The New Hockey Fan's Guide to the NHL

So you're new to hockey, eh?  Well, consider this a warm welcome to the bizarre world of NHL hockey.  Sometimes you'll laugh (when a shot comes towards Dan Ellis, usually), sometimes you'll cry (when your team's superstar gets knocked out by Matt Cooke) and sometimes you'll wonder who the hell is in charge of this league (that will probably occur every day).  But most importantly, you'll have a lot of fun being a hockey fan.  I've put together a little guide to help you get going and become involved in the hockey world.

Who to follow on Twitter:

You need to have a Twitter account.  Every NHL team has a Twitter, beat writers have Twitter, staff writers have Twitter, many players not on the New Jersey Devils have Twitter, basically everyone not on the Devils has a Twitter.  Here are some "must follows:"

Scott Burnside (@ESPN_Burnside)
Scott Burnside covers the NHL for ESPN.  In other words, his coverage is lousy and he knows nothing about hockey.  It's a theme over at ESPN...

Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski)
Greg Wyshynski is one of the Yahoo Puck Daddy writers.  He's a pretty funny person and fun to follow.  He is a Devils fan, though, so he'll probably be depressed around late April.  (We're used to it...)

Dmitry Chesnokov (@dchesnokov)
Dmitry Chesnokov also writes for Puck Daddy.  He does a lot of work with Russian NHL players, probably because he can speak Russian.  He has never been pushed aside by Alex Ovechkin after a tough playoff or Olympic loss and 17-year contracts make him cringe.

Paul Bissonnette (@BizNasty2point0)
If you stick to watching hockey, you may never hear of Paul Bissonnette, but he's quite a force on Twitter.  He is able to turn something so ordinary into something funny.  Oh, and he was Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin's linemate for 8 seconds and never touched the puck.

Don Cherry Parody (@DonCherryParody)
Unfortunately, Don Cherry doesn't have a Twitter account.  If he did, though, he'd sound just like his parody account.  Oh, and Don Cherry is the guy who has suits brighter and more striking than a freshly waxed Ferrari Enzo.

Down Goes Brown (@DownGoesBrown)
DGB is quite simply the greatest blogger in professional sports right now.  While his favorite hockey team, the Toronto Maple Leafs, has been nothing but miserable on the ice in recent memory, DGB is able to make jokes about them without throwing waffles or cracking Kyle Wellwood jokes.  Okay, the second part of that might be wrong...

The Green Men (@TheGreenMen)
The Green Men are die-hard Canucks fans who wear green spandex suits to hockey games to support their team.  Interestingly enough, they've been very quiet since the Stanley Cup Finals...eerily similar to the Sedin twins during the Finals...

Best hockey websites

Hockey, like any sport, has its share of websites and blogs that are worth your time reading.  There are also many more that are not worth your time, so here are some that are and aren't worth your time.

Worth the time - - You may as well become familiar with the league's official website.  Disclaimer: I am not in charge of the horrific headlines that attempt humor every morning.

Not worth the time - - ESPN spends most of their time praising Sidney Crosby and his greatness.  This comes as a bit of irony, as Crosby hasn't played since early January.

Worth the time - Puck Daddy Blog - Puck Daddy covers all of the major hockey stories and is always searching for unusual hockey stories as well.  No, Rick DiPietro injuring himself in the arena cafeteria is not unusual.

Not worth the time - Atlanta Thrashers Official Website - Why?  The Thrashers don't exist anymore.  They moved to Winnipeg.  I don't know exactly where that is, but I hear you can see the Northern Lights from there.  It must be really cold (don't tell Dany Heatley that).

Worth the time - SB Nation - SB Nation has a blog for each NHL team (every professional sports team as well).  Most of them use advanced statistics such as Corsi and Fenwick to break down and analyze their respective teams.  If you are associated with the media, stay away from this.  It's way out of your league.

Not worth the time - - Known to most hockey fans as "Eklund," this mysterious hockey "reporter" spends most of his time making up rumors that make vulnerable fans' heads explode.  This week, Alex Ovechkin is on the trading block...or was that last week?

Important facts to know

  • The odds of seeing an Ovechtrick (9 goals in one game for one player) is about the same as seeing the same starting goaltender for the Flyers in back-to-back seasons.
  • If your team is looking to trade an above average player, yet not quite a superstar, that player may be sent to Toronto for two first round draft picks (in other words, top 10 overall picks).
  • Just because the Rangers overpaid for another star player doesn't necessarily mean he's going to become a bust.  It just dramatically increases the chances he becomes a bust.
  • Nassau Coliseum is not legally a hazardous zone, but if you ever go there, bring a hard hat...just in case the roof caves in.
  • Zdeno Chara never played basketball professionally, but he's got dunking players into stanchions down pretty well.
  • Teemu Selanne, Nicklas Lidstrom and Dwayne Roloson never age.  They just don't get older.
  • It is illegal for the LA Kings to sign a superstar player.  Nobody has ever explained why, but it's something people have come to accept.

Notable "can't misses" in hockey

Don't leave your TV if any of the following could potentially happen:

  • Ilya Kovalchuk is due up in a shootout.
  • The New York Rangers take a 5-0 lead in Montreal or the Calgary Flames take a 5-0 lead in Chicago.
  • The Vancouver Canucks are playing in Chicago...barring Roberto Luongo is still in the game.
  • Chris Pronger is on the ice and noticeably flexing his elbows.
  • Marian Gaborik tries to play defense (especially in the playoffs).
  • Bobby Ryan has a one-on-one rush against a Nashville forward without his stick.
  • The Penguins and Capitals are playing each other.  Supposedly, it's a big rivalry...