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raisincanes22

How you watch a hockey game.....

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I would consider myself a new hockey fan.  I grew up in the deep south where there was no team around.  Not until I moved to Raleigh did I develop an interest in the game.  Since becoming a hockey fan I have always been interested in hearing how others view the games.  What are you watching for?  In your opinion, what is the most important thing to keep track of?  The easy thing that an inexperience fan would do is just watch the puck but there is so much more going on away from the puck.  Just curious to get some feedback from lifelong hockey folks to give myself and others on this board some tips to keep our eye on while watching our Canes.

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I always recommend new fans focus on the puck until they "get" the speed, because that seems to be biggest challenge for any first-time, in-person attendee. The game is so fast and so much is going on that it can seem very hard to follow, so getting that feel for the speed right out of the gate is huge. It'll also make watching on TV much easier when they're back at home. Some fans pick up the speed in five minutes, some take longer. 

 

I've been going to games for over 40 years and what I do when I'm in the arena is get a "big picture" feel for where everybody is on the ice whenever there's a change of possession. Then I try to anticipate the next play to advance to puck. I keep an eye out for mismatches away from the puck, D guys not marking a man or overplaying/double-teaming of the puck carrier and thereby opening someone else up, and O guys looking for open ice to give the puck carrier options.

 

And outlet passing/transitional play is just crucial. You can tell very quickly which team is dictating the flow if you watch how effectively both teams come out of their own zone, and how fluidly they enter the O zone. The team that transitions out of their own end quickly and keeps possession when they enter the O zone is more likely to dictate the play than one that struggles to get out of its own end, dumps from the neutral zone into the O zone, and then tries to chase down the puck to regain O-zone possession. That kind of play will wear any team out before the game ends, giving the more fluid, puck-possessing team a big advantage.  

Edited by top-shelf-1

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I would consider myself a new hockey fan.  I grew up in the deep south where there was no team around.  Not until I moved to Raleigh did I develop an interest in the game.  Since becoming a hockey fan I have always been interested in hearing how others view the games.  What are you watching for?  In your opinion, what is the most important thing to keep track of?  The easy thing that an inexperience fan would do is just watch the puck but there is so much more going on away from the puck.  Just curious to get some feedback from lifelong hockey folks to give myself and others on this board some tips to keep our eye on while watching our Canes.

 

Welcome raisin.  Always nice to see another deep South member around here.  We southeners are pretty out-numbered here.  We had ECHL hockey, and those games were sometimes more like Friday night at the fights than hockey, but my grandpa loved it and we went at least once or twice a week growing up.

 

Get yourself a cheap ticket and go to a few games.  Sit up high, preferably in one of the goal zones and watch the line rushes develop.  Get a sense for line changes and who is paired up with who, offensively and defensively.  Get yourself a lineup card and start learning the players on the other teams.

 

Have fun.

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Welcome raisincanes22 and thanks for joining our hockey board. I would suggest watching the puck and enjoy the in-game experience. Let the refs call the game until you are familiar with the rules. As you get more comfortable I often enjoy watching some of the happenings away from the play such as players interaction, line changes, player match-ups and the like but honestly watch the puck, watch the play develop and enjoy the crowd around you.

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Nothing beats sitting in the upper deck for learning the game and getting the whole picture.  You can't see that perspective on TV and sitting close is incredible to appreciate the speed and violence of the game, but not as a way to be able to appreciate the strategy.

 

You'll find as you watch in time that you won't watch the puck automatically as you can tell where it is based on the movement of the players.  I find this aspect akin to watching football as you have to watch the oline/dline to truly tell what is happening.  I think it is more natural in hockey as your brain will eventually see the plays automatically.

 

Top hit is right on the head, the transition from the dzone through the neutral zone to the ozone is everything.  The team that does this best usually wins the game.  

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Count me in on the advice for the cheap seats at in the upper goal zone. Cheap and some of my favorite seats in the place. You really get to see the play develop.

I'm assuming you understand the basics of the rules (offsides, icing, etc), but if you don't, it will come. Some good info on line.

I find myself watching the line changes a lot. I usually pick a player or two to really follow and see what they are doing when they don't have the puck. This is how you find out just how sorry a guy like Semin was doing.

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I'll chime in based on my own experience in picking up hockey much later in life than all of the other major sports. 

 

Others have alluded to it and it's more a "what" than a "how", but one thing I'd emphasize is focusing on the battle to clear the puck from your own end without Icing it.  Or, conversely, the battle to keep the puck in your own offensive zone when the defense is trying to clear it.  Even though I knew the Offside Rule, for some reason it didn't fully register to me how big a deal it is when the team on defense sends the puck back over the blue line because then everybody on offense has to retreat back into the neutral zone before restarting an attack.  It's like a pressure relief valve for the defense.   

 

I also came to appreciate how important it is to get the puck into your offensive zone without going Offsides and the "mini battles" in the neutral zone to make/ prevent it from happening.  Their are times when a team carries the puck into their offensive zone and immediately scores (usually on breakaways), but more often than not it's kind of a two part process.  First gain entry into your offensive zone, then eventually score the goal. 

 

During my years of very casually watching I never really appreciated the importance and nuances of the different hockey zones.

 

Oh, and it's been while, but several years ago a friend had tickets near center ice in the top portion of the middle tier.  That seemed like the viewing sweet spot to me. It was high enough so I could get a sense of the overall flow but close enough to get some of the detail as well.  But I've only been to a handful of games, so I'll defer to our regular attendees as far as best seat location for watching games. :)

Edited by LakeLivin

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Lake reminded me of this...

 

I have had some success describing "Backcourt Violation" to the basketball crowd as a way of explaining hockey offsides.

 

Then, you point out that the D is doing everything they can after keeping the puck out of the net, to cause a "backcourt violation" resulting in the offensive team having to totally retreat before they can reenter their zone.  Then all you have to teach is that the puck has to go in first.  It works so much better in describing offsides.  

 

Offsides being an overloaded term in that American Football has a totally different meaning and confuses most.

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Agree with pretty much everything written here, so just adding a couple of side thoughts.

 

I like high up lower bowl, close to center ice, but those are pricey seats. I get them on STH discounts sometimes. Exactly what people are saying, the upper balcony really does give you perspective. But you get pretty good perspective back about 25-30 rows, and you really do feel the speed down there.  I agree w/ Super Dave about sitting in different places. Sitting behind directly behind the net reveals players finding their lanes and is a very different experience than center ice. I hate the protective netting and sitting in the lower corners. Ironically to me the worst seats in the house are right on the glass. Fun to be so close that you can see if a guy cut himself shaving, and collisions in front of you are amazing, and the speed is baffling, and you get on TV, but vast areas of the ice are very hard to see, which for me blows all of that other stuff away.

 

One tidbit is to get a sense of how long guys have been on the ice. This is the most full on physically grueling game when the exertion per minute is multiplied by continuous play, of any major sport. Guys are going very hard for very short bursts. A shift length for a forward of anything over a minute and guys are typically gassed. This is why it is the only major sport to allow changing players during the play. Very unique and interesting part of the game.

 

It is a strategy both 5 on 5 and on the power play, to cycle the puck along the boards, especially using the back of the net, where forwards skate in patterns and leave the puck for each other along the boards. This tends to tire the defense. This is why teams used to just ice the puck to change lines. But rule changes before 2006 require the players icing the puck to stay on the ice for the next face off. Forcing exhausted players to stay on the ice and start in their own zone. This is also the most common reason for coaches to use their one timeout: after an icing, to give their exhausted players at least a short rest.

 

Also if gassed players are pinned in too long, the chance of them taking a penalty goes way up.

 

On the Power play you'll notice the defense is often very aggressive at the start of the kill, but if the attacking team moves the puck a bit, the d tends to tire and fall back into a box. Sometimes the PP team can even change guys out leaving fresh guys on a gassed PK unit, often leading to really good chances.

 

Anyways, it's like a guy holding his breath underwater, if you see that a player has been out there a long time it affects many things. For instance a guy's been out there 60 seconds and needs to get off the ice, then finds himself with a near breakaway, but dumps the puck in because he is just too gassed to do much more.

 

So many nuances, which makes it a life long learning thing. I am constantly learning things I didn't know.

 

Also, if you watch on TV listen to Tripp. He is a bit goofy, and can have an agenda, but he really does know the game and points out a lot during a telecast.

Edited by remkin

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A lot of good stuff here guys.  I really appreciate your feedback.  I do find it more difficult to watch the games on TV b/c you are limited on what you can see. For example a lot of the line changes are missed so its easy to loose track of who's on the ice. Do any of you find it useful to listen to the "live" call by Chuck inside the area?

 

 

 

I find myself watching the line changes a lot. I usually pick a player or two to really follow and see what they are doing when they don't have the puck. This is how you find out just how sorry a guy like Semin was doing.

 

I really like this advise. The game is so fast that you can loose track of who is doing what.  At the end of the game you know who got points and that the team played well or looked bad but it's hard to pinpoint what the individual efforts were.

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A lot of good stuff here guys.  I really appreciate your feedback.  I do find it more difficult to watch the games on TV b/c you are limited on what you can see. For example a lot of the line changes are missed so its easy to loose track of who's on the ice. Do any of you find it useful to listen to the "live" call by Chuck inside the area?

I have great respect for Chuck and the years of service he has given this franchise. It's also amazing that he carries the broadcast singlehandedly (most radio teams include a color commentator; Maniscalco is doing the second period this year for home games and that helps).

 

All of that being said - and I was totally spoiled b/c I grew up listening to Gene Hart, who I consider the best play-by-play announcer I've ever heard - Chuck is pretty lax about telling you who is on the ice in any kind of consistent way, and he is given to reminiscing about his long history in hockey... and then, you can actually feel it sometimes before it happens, he'll be like, "Old Gordie Howe, he was really something -- and he scores!!"

 

The sin of it is that when Chuck's doing straight play by play, he is really very good at it! I think part of the issue might be how far from the ice announcers sit these days. Press boxes were once in that sweet spot Rem mentioned, at the top of the lower bowl. All that space has gone to luxury boxes and premium seating now, and press is up by the ceiling, so I'm sure Chuck struggles to identify players.

 

So, to answer your question, when Chuck is actually calling the action, yes, you'll find him really helpful. 

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