A gender neutral guide to NHL Hockey

By Deanna Vasso
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Female hockey fans were outraged last Friday when the New York Rangers Blue Shirts United site posted a blog entitled, “girls guide to watching the Rangers”.  The Rangers took the blog down, but various sports journalists, and bloggers screen capped and copied the text into forums.

So why was I and other female hockey fans so offended by this post? For one, the lexicon used in the article was so old-fashioned and played on obviously outdated stereotypes about women. The other thing that  irked me about this article was the over arching condescending tone of it. The writer spoke as if she knew so much about hockey but what did she explain? All she said was to research the players and ask questions (only  during a penalty for the whistle break). If this article is intended for people who know nothing about hockey, wouldn’t it be better to explain key things to the game?

So here’s what I propose, not a guide to hockey for women, but a guide to hockey for either gender who just wants to know more about the game.  How about writing an article explaining hockey that is gender neutral? Which is exactly what I’m going to do in this blog. The best advice I have to anyone who wants to know more about this sport, is to just watch the game.  I learned more about this game simply by reading about the history of the game, and by religiously watching Flyers games.

What you need to know about hockey:

Off-sides:  If the skater goes past the blue line into the opposing zone before the puck than it’s an off-sides  It can also occur when shooting the puck into the attacking zone and it goes off a defender.

The Team: On the ice there is one goaltender, two defensemen, and three forwards (a center flanked by a left and right winger) At the end of game when a team is losing they can put out a 6th attacker by pulling the goalie.

Blueliners: Defensemen are often referred to as blueliner, as they protect the blueline in front of their net to block shots and keep the puck from reaching their goaltender.

PP: This is shorthand for power play. A team is given a man advantage  when the opposing team has been called for the penalty.

PK: Penalty kill is what a team needs to do when they have been called for a penalty and the other team is on the PP. This is an important test of the special teams and it’s ability to make sure the D and the goaltender can keep the puck out.

Hat trick: this is when a player scores 3 or more goals in one game.

Breakaway: a player goes 1-on-1 with the goalie for a chance to score

Forecheck: this is a play to force a turnover in the offensive zone, to give you possession of the puck and put pressure on the offensive team’s puck carrier.

Shots: there are lots of different ways to shoot a puck (wrist, backhand, one-timer, slap, tip in, snap, shovel) and you’ll start to recognize them once you start watching games.

Penalties: There are a lot of penalties that can happen in a game most are 2 minute minors (tripping, cross-checking, hooking, high sticking, etc) but some can be five minute majors (mostly fighting, but also spearing, charging and boarding). In most cases a penalty ends when the team on the PP scores, but for a major penalty the opposing player has to sit out for the entire 5 minutes. There are also misconducts which are 10 minutes off the ice, mostly these are called for unsportsmanlike like conduct. A player can also get ejected from a game with a game misconduct which can lead to having to sit out the next game. Game misconducts often follow misconducts and usually are called on a player who has taken took many penalties in a game.

This is just a basic understanding of the game, and I probably didn’t explain everything that you need to know, but I feel that actually explaining how the game works is a better guide to hockey. This one is not just for the girls, but for everyone.

Deanna Vasso is a Flyers contributor for rantsports.com. You can follow her on Twitter @Dmvasso.

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