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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Siena chapter.


So it’s October…and as the MLB heads into the postseason push, the NHL season is just about to start with the puck dropping on October 7th.  Two giants are set to go head to head in Chicago with Stanley Cup Champs the Chicago Blackhawks hosting the New York Rangers. Not to mention the ever rowdy rivalry out west between the Vancouver Canucks and the Calgary Flames.  However, before you shy away from yet another sports article rattling off stats and terms you don’t know, I am here to help you learn a bit about the game and brush up on a few key talking points for the season.  Just remember: hockey is all about moving a little piece of rubber down frozen water to score a goal.     

3 Key Points to Understanding the Game

1. There are five skating players on the ice (a left wing, center, right wing, and two defensemen). A sixth man is the goaltender.

2. The players are constantly rotating on and off the ice in lines.  There are four offensive lines each having a left wing, center, and right wing.  The first line consists of the strongest players and the fourth, arguably, consists of the weaker players.  The system is replicated with the defensive pairings.

3. When any of the players on the ice creates a penalty, then his team will lose said player for a certain amount of time to the penalty box.  This gives the other team an opportunity for a power play.  A power play is when the team the penalty was committed against has a numerical advantage while the player who committed the penalty is stuck in the penalty box.  This forces his team to have to “kill the penalty”.  A penalty kill is when the other team must play out the remaining “penalty time” with four players.   


3 Key Talking Points for the Season

1. Start of Something New

While every team gets a clean slate for the start of the new season, two teams in particular are looking to start something new and turn around the franchise. The first being the Edmonton Oilers and the second being the Buffalo Sabres.  Both teams read a similar story, drafting young and exciting players such as Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel, respectively.  In addition, both the Oilers and Sabres made key trades for budding NHL talent.  This off-season the Oilers were able to acquire players such as former New York Rangers number two goaltender, Cam Talbot.  While major changes have taken place on and off the ice for both teams, you don’t need to be a hockey expert to ask the important questions such as: can a few new additions fix a broken system?  Can you expect young, inexperienced players to turn around a franchise with a flick of the wrist?


2. Sophomores: To be Super or To Slump?

Just like us college students, a great many of second year NHLers find themselves in a sophomore slump.  It’s certainly not uncommon to see their stats take a dip.  Notable sophomores this season come in the form of Rookie of the Year, Aaron Ekbald, pint-sized and fellow Rookie of the Year contender Johnny Gaudreau, and the New York Rangers’ Kevin Hayes, who has been receiving some negative feedback from coach Alain Vigneault.  So the question begs are you superstitious and believe everyone gets the Sophomore Jinx?  Or is it those who become complacent?  Maybe for those who over estimate their abilities?    


3. Keeping Up with the Jones

In this ever competitive world of trying to score the best internship and proving that your horse is definitely bigger then my horse, hockey is no different.  Teams are constantly being told that they are no longer competitive enough to win the Stanley Cup.  The New York Rangers are no strangers to this criticism.  As the cornerstone for the team, goaltender Henrik Lundqvist hits 33, every reporter, analyst, you name it claims that the next year or two is the last chance for the Rangers to bring home the Cup.  However, many people forget to factor in other components of the Rangers team such as the intimidating first line of Rick Nash and Derick Brassard, as well as fan favorite Mats Zuccarello who is looking strong as ever after returning from a terrifying head injury during the playoff.  Another team facing the same concerns is the Vancouver Canucks.  The Canucks are currently facing a strong set of teams in the Pacific Division out west.  The Pacific Division is a tough neighborhood with 2014 Stanley Cup champs the Kings, the up and coming Flames, whose young stars light up the ice, and the ever aggressive Anaheim Ducks.  The Canucks have every reason to be wary.


Hopefully this little guide will not only outline some of the basics of hockey, but hits some talking points to impress your friends, boyfriend, or brother as they change the latest episode of Empire or Law and Order: SVU to the game. 

Nicole Peterson is a Siena College Class of 2018 alumna. She studied Marketing during her time at Siena.