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NHL Shining in Primetime       Share

Sunday was a busy day in the sporting world as both the NHL and NBA had playoff games in primetime on Sunday night.  In the NHL game, the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Philadelphia Flyers 7-4.  Seven goals is a lot in a hockey game, so NHL executives were ecstatic as this high scoring game in primetime hopefully drew in more fans to the professional sport that is often relegated to the back pages of most sports sections.  The Chicago Blackhawks have not won the Stanley Cup since 1961 but now are only one win away from this year’s NHL championship.  The home team has won all five games thus far in the series, though, so with the next game being played in Philadelphia, it seems the odds are that the series will likely go to a seventh and final game.   Chicago has the home advantage in the series with game 7 scheduled to be played in Chicago. 
A star in the game for Chicago was Dustin Byfuglien who scored two goals.  While he had done well in earlier playoff series, Byfuglien had not scored a goal in any of the first four games against the Flyers in this series. 

One Liner:  “I don’t know how to pronounce his name, but the big dude for the Blackhawks seems to be on track.  That’s bad news for the Flyers” Quote alludes to Byfuglien whose name is a tongue twister.  He is a big fella, tipping the scales at over 250 pounds which is pretty big for a hockey player.

Send comments to: Leroy@notasportsguy.com

The Basics

NHL Play-offs: The National Hockey League has 30 teams organized into two conferences, western and eastern, with each conference having three divisions.  The NHL originated in Canada, although most teams are American.  The winner of the NHL’s play-offs is awarded the Stanley Cup, named after Lord Stanley of Canada when he donated a cup to the best Canadian hockey team.  Many people have gripes about NHL’s play-off system because over half of the teams make the play-offs (16 of 30) after an 82 game regular season.

-The Chicago Blackhawks swept the San Jose Sharks in four straight games to secure their spot in the NHL Finals.  The Philadelphia Flyers are Beat the Montreal Canadiens 4 games to 1 in the Eastern Conference Finals.  Both teams represent major-market hockey fan bases, fielding traditionally successful teams.  Yet despite relative success in playoffs year-in and year out, neither team has hoisted the Stanley Cup in over 35 (Flyers) or 49 (Blackhawks) years, respectively.

Terminology:

Lord Stanley’s Mug: Another name for the Stanley Cup.  The Stanley Cup is the NHL championship trophy and one of the most recognizable trophies in professional sports. Besides the iconic World Cup trophy, the Stanley Cup is distinctive for its size and “rings” which list the teams and names of past champions.

Zamboni: A machine that resurfaces the ice rink before and during breaks in a hockey game.  It is said that many Canadians’ retirement dream is to drive the Zamboni for their local NHL team. The Zamboni will be brought out to resurface the ice in between each of the three periods.

Penalty Box: Where a player sits after he commits a penalty.  When a hockey player commits a rule infraction of any kind he will spend a designated amount of time in the penalty box, off the ice unable to join the action until the penalty time has expired.  The amount of penalty time increases with the severity of the infraction committed. 

Power Play: When a player commits a penalty and is sequestered in the penalty box he cannot be replaced by his team.  The offending team is short a player for the penalty time.  This creates a tremendous advantage for the other team.  With a numerical advantage due to a penalty, a team is said to have a “power play.”  Teams with power plays often score because with the personnel advantage they can often attempt multiple shots on goal and keep the puck in their offensive zone.

Icing: An infraction where a team strikes the puck and it crosses two red lines without anybody touching the puck.  The rule prevents an inferior team from just playing only defense and blasting the puck to the other end whenever they get a chance to hit it.

5 hole:  The 5 hole is the nickname for the space between the goaltenders legs.   To score “through the 5 hole” is to shoot the puck through the goalkeeper’s legs for a goal.  The name comes from the five positions that a goalkeeper must defend from the ready position.  They are 1 hole – glove side high, 2 hole – glove side low, 3 hole stick side high, 4 hole stick side low.

Line changes: The five players other than the goaltender are typically divided into three forwards and two defensemen.  A substitution of an entire unit at once is called a line change. Teams typically employ alternate sets of forward lines and defensive pairings when shorthanded or on a power play. Substitutions are permitted at any time during the course of the game, so at any time during play you may see players skate to and from their bench.