To help the average fan understand the language used by TV commentators throughout the playoffs, here’s a handy list of terms or phrases and their definitions:
Answer the Bell: In boxing, the beginning of a fight. In hockey, the necessary conclusion to a hockey play. See also hockey play.
Beauty: Missing teeth, violent, bearded. See also Dirty and Winner.
Bulletin Board Material: 2-dimensional diagram of a hockey rink on a WhiteErase board, accompanied by erasable markers and covered in an arcane language consisting of X’s, O’s, arrows, lines, and numbers.
Character: Euphemism to describe teams without talented players that win, teams with talented players lose, but also teams without talented players that lose and teams with talented players that win. As in “This team has a lot of character.”
Clutch: An adjective to describe the individual player who wins without his team, or whose goals count for double, or who is mediocre as a rule with unpredictable and brief flashes of competency.
Dirty: Describes a player who will actually do anything to win. For example, Dale Hunter. See also Winner.
Focus: The ability of an athlete to practice his profession at the appropriate time.
Hockey Play: An illegal play resulting in injury enjoyed by nostalgic TV commentators who wish such plays occurred as often as shots, passes, and skating strides. As in “That’s not suspendable, that’s a hockey play gone wrong.”
In-game Adjustment: Playing a centre with a different winger. Assigning certain players easier minutes against easier opposition, such as the water bottles at the end of the bench.
Injury Update: A tale told by a pundit, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.
Key Player: Goaltender.
League Review: Marination period before the delivery of a botched decision.
Let’em play: An admission that two referees is worse than one referee, but still not as good as zero referees.
Loss of Composure: Any team playing against a vastly superior opponent.
Mic’ed Up: Over the course of a TV broadcast of a single game, the gradual citation of an entirety of a hockey player’s non-scatological lexicon.
Monster: The imminent recipient of Pierre McGuire’s cellular phone number.
Old-time hockey: The appearance of formerly legal plays in contemporary hockey, such as two handed slashes. Often used by commentators to lament the rules of today’s hockey, which liberally tolerates the forward pass.
Reset Button: Game 1 of next season.
Soft: When applied to a European hockey player, an implication that he does not enjoy being hit. When applied to a North American, the allegation that he is European.
Questionable: When applied to a play, See Dirty. When applied to a call by referee, linesmen, or the NHL’s head office, wrong.
Under the Knife: Stanley Cup Winners aside, the reward for playing with a serious injury.
Veteran: A player who has remained in the league for years without being stained by the brush of hyperbole.
War Room: A room full of men qualified by having watched hockey for years to analyze and decide all plays and calls by officials live. Distinct from a bar due to the sobriety rather than accuracy of the men in the room.
Winner: A player who distinguishes himself from his peers and opposition by actively attempting to win the game. See also, Dirty.