The Stanley Cup Final is almost here. In most of the world it is called Ice Hockey, but in the US it is just called hockey.
The NY Rangers take on the LA Kings. The Kings are without the D-Train, the man mountain Dean Uthoff and Steve Carfino, but they are still formidable.
It will be watched from people all over the globe from America to Canada and well that’s all.
How does the game work? Get the puck in the goal. Skate around fast. Bash someone up.
This year the LA Kings v NY Rangers is a game no one really expected… or wanted. Not ideal if you’ve already paid for advertising space and were expecting the more fancied and glamour teams like Montreal or last year’s champions, Chicago to be there.
Unlike any other sport in the world, in ice hockey each team is allowed one person who can actively engage in punching the other nominated fighter from the opposition. Yes that’s right – they are allowed to trade blows and the referees won’t blow a penalty. This person is called an enforcer or a ‘goon’. Interesting names. And they do carry on like they’ve had a goonbag.
Imagine how much Paul Gallen, Nate Myles, Wally Lewis or Mark Geyer would enjoy that?!
The game is also unique in that it is the only game in the entire world which has neither two or four, halves or quarters. It has three periods of 20 minutes.
For the layman here are the basic rules.
There are six players per team. The game is stopped when the puck leaves the ice rink and like in soccer, the offensive side can’t go over halfway until the puck has cleared it.
When play is stopped it is restarted with a ‘faceoff’. Two players opposing each other, not John Travolta and Nicholas Cage swapping faces, in case you were confused.
There is also something called a Power Play (no relation to the Power Rangers as the Rangers are in the final). This is where one team has had a player sent off for an infringement and the other team has two minutes with a one man advantage.
There’s lots of body checking (hitting an attacking opponent in defense, which is completely within the rules) and certain players are called ‘pests’ as they try and milk penalties- this is no different to many other sports. Apart from that, it’s a bit like ultimate fighting. There are no rules. Just do what it takes to get the rubber into the goal. Sounds a little similar to a night out on the town. I’ve often been called a pest on such occasions too.
If scores are level it goes to sudden death with the next scorer winning. If games are still tied at the end of the first extra 20 minute period, they begin a new 20 minute period until the puck finds its way into the net.
I’ve been known to ride a bandwagon- I was on the Wests Tigers in ’05 and the Sydney Swans in’ 05 (big year that one for me) and Makybe Diva. The only one I didn’t hope on board was the world’s most successful race horse, Black Caviar, who never lost a race and I stayed with Haylist and I’m now counting my silver medals.
But I’m on board the LA Kings bandwagon with a vengeance and I think I’m even driving this train. Toot Toot!
Merchandise purchased, drinking LA lager, abusing the referees (although I’m one myself) and when the winning goal was scored to send the Kings to the Stanley Cup Final I proudly stated, “it had to be Martinez”, like I’d been following his career all my life and not like I’d never heard his name before.
Will the red carpet be rolled out in Los Angeles after the best of seven series or will the Statue of Libery be turned into a Ranger? Will the babes of Baywatch raise a rescue tube in a victory salute or will Central Park be the venue for a ticker tape parade?
Time will tell. My heart says LA and my head says, well I just have no idea for the second game ever I’m about to watch in full!
But GO KINGS GO!