With a handful of games left in the regular season, there are some super intense battles going on for the final playoff spots. This is peak hockey season! Teams are playing their fastest, roughest, most intense hockey of the year. Previous Cup winners like Boston Bruins and LA Kings are fighting to get into the playoffs. Every single game counts. In the past several years, playoff seeding hasn’t played a pivotal roll in winning The Cup, you just want to get in. The hottest teams going in are the ones to watch and it doesn’t matter if you’re the 1 seed or the 8 seed. Lots of games on TV including NBC on Sundays, NBC Sports & NHL Network on weeknights, and your local FoxSports station. Now’s when you get on-the-edge-of-your-seat-excitement every game!
This weekend is All-Star Weekend which is complete with fun, entertainment, and excitement all of its own. Beginning with the All-Star Roster Draft (an idea the NFL has recently adopted), to the Skills Challenge, to the All-Star Game itself, it’s a great opportunity to see the true personalities of the players. These guys are so skilled, strong, and tough yet they maintain great senses-of-humor and don’t take themselves too seriously. Even though they play for opposing teams during the season, most know each other through junior leagues, colleges, international play or former teammates, so it gives the players a chance to be lighthearted with their peers. It’s also funny to see some of these guys without their helmets & equipment on. My favorite “not what you’d expect” player is Phil Kessel of the Toronto Maple Leafs, whose one of the best young forwards in the game and looks like a middle-age accountant.
The All-Star Skills Challenge gives players as chance to show off their speed, puck control, and shooting skills including the hardest shot in the league (over 105 mph)! And the game itself is a showcase of talent from the very best players in the league. Throughout the entire weekend, fans get a chance to interact with players, get pictures and autographs, and enjoy the skills and personalities of professional hockey.
Hopefully, you’ll get a chance to watch some of the festivities this weekend. Here’s the television schedule:
Roster Draft: Friday, 1/23, 7:00pm EST on NBCSports
Skills Challenge: Saturday, 1/24, 7:00pm EST on NBCSports
All-Star Game: Sunday, 1/25, 5pm EST on NBCSports
Every game counts. Every period counts. Every shift counts. It’s not about if I win I get endorsements, I played great so I get a new contract, I’m going to Disneyland. It’s about THE TEAM won. WE get to hoist The Cup. Touch The Cup. Spend a day with The Cup. It’s all about The Cup. But like Christmas, the chase is the most fun.
I often hear complaints from casual sports viewers about the speed, or lack of, in professional sports games. Hockey provides so much more action than any of the other major sports viewing. Not knocking other sports, because I absolutely enjoy watching baseball, football, nascar, and pretty much any sporting event on television. Not a big fan of pro basketball. Too many fouls. Too much flopping. Too many game stoppages, especially in the final minutes.
Hockey games are extremely action-packed, fast-paced, and overall quicker games. Three 20 minute periods with very few stoppages compared to the other sports. The final minutes of a close hockey game are amazing! Quick, hard-hitting, edge-of-your seat intensity. If you are curious about getting into watching hockey, I would start out finding a televised game with a close score and just watch the final 5 minutes. You won’t be disappointed!
NOTE: Last post I mentioned Rene Rancourt, the Boston Bruins national anthem. I recommend YOUTUBE Boston Bruins National Anthem after the marathon bombing. It’ll give you chills and pride.
So I’m no writer and I’m no hockey expert. I’m just a huge fan of hockey and want to see it’s viewership expand. I’m constantly telling people about how exciting hockey is to watch and follow and always trying to turn more people into being fans of professional hockey. I’m only familiar with the NHL and AHL, so that’s what I’ll be referencing here. I ask and welcome any and all input.
Some topics I plan to cover are:
- How to follow and enjoy a televised hockey game.
- Watching hockey vs. other sports
- Fighting, physical play and penalties
- Players – star players and role players
and other topics of discussion as they come to mind or suggested. Like I said, I’m a fan. Not a rules expert. Not a historian. Feel free to call me out on areas where I may be wrong.
Speaking of traditions, as I watch the Flyers vs. the Bruins in the first televised game of the 2014/2015 opening season, I’m getting chills listening to Rene Rancourt, sing the national anthem. Rene has been the national anthem singer at Boston Bruins home games for 35 years, and he is a tradition himself. Rene always finishes his national anthem with a certain number of fist pumps, depending upon the importance of the game, and has an innate ability to fire up a crowd like no other national anthem singer!
So, here we go. The 2014/2015 NHL season has begun. Watch, enjoy, get excited. It’s like no other spectator sport out there!