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Beginner’s Guide to NHL & How it Works



Beginner’s Guide to NHL & How it Works

The NHL is a terrific experience, and if you love hockey, it doesn’t get much better than this. However, if you are new to the scene or are tired of answering questions from curious onlookers, direct them here. We can not only break down all the information about how hockey games function into a few important points, but we can also give you the best advice for getting started with NHL betting. You should understand the rink in order to comprehend the game. The defense zone, neutral zone, and offensive zone are the three sections of a hockey arena. A legitimate NHL rink measures 200 feet long and 85 feet wide. There are five face-off circles; two blue lines; one red line; and two goal creases.

NHL Rules

These are the most fundamental hockey rules, though there are many.

  • A hockey game consists of three quarters that last an hour each. A 20-minute intermission separates the first and second periods, which each run for 20 minutes. Teams enter overtime if the score is tied at the end of the hour.
  • Icing: Icing occurs when a player shoots, dumps or passes the puck all the way to the opposing team’s goal line down the length of the ice. For this to happen, the puck must pass unimpeded through the opposing goal line and center red line. The play will halt if something takes place. It is not a penalty, but it does require a face-off in the zone of the other team.
  • Offsides: According to this rule, an attacking player cannot enter the attacking zone before the puck; in other words, a player entering the attacking zone must first ensure that the puck has entered the zone. This has the same effect as icing.

NHL: Positions

There are five positions in hockey, as follows:

  • Goaltender: They stop the opposing team from scoring, just like in many other sports. The team’s final line of defense in them.
  • Defensemen: A team has two defensemen when all players are healthy. Additionally, these players prevent the opposition from scoring. They go by the moniker “D,” “D-men,” or “blue-liners.”
  • Center: In a forward position, the center takes face-offs, passes, and organizes teammates in both zones. They should also be offensive and have a decent shot.
  • Left Wing: These players are forwards who attack and defend the rink’s left side. They should also be able to play in front of the goalie’s net and dig the puck out of the corners.
  • Right Wing: The Right Wing plays the same function as the Left Wing but on the right. They must be adept at passing and puck management.

NHL: Total No. of Players

There can be 23 players under contract for each squad. Twenty of the 23 players—including 18 skaters and 2 goalies—can put on game-day gear. Typically, a team’s 23-man roster will have 13–14 forwards, 7-8 defenders, and 2 goalies.

NHL: Total No. of Teams

Currently, there are 31 NHL teams, including 7 in Canada and 24 in the US. There are two significant gatherings. There are two divisions that make up the Eastern Conference: Atlantic and Metropolitan. The Central and Pacific divisions are also part of the Western Conference.

Eastern Conference


  • Boston Bruins
  • Buffalo Sabres
  • Detroit Red Wings
  • Florida Panthers
  • Montreal Canadiens
  • Ottawa Senators
  • Tampa Bay Lightning
  • Toronto Maple Leafs


  • Carolina Hurricanes
  • Columbus Blue Jackets
  • New Jersey Devils
  • New York Islanders
  • New York Rangers
  • Philadelphia Flyers
  • Pittsburgh Penguins
  • Washington Capitals

Western Conference


  • Chicago Blackhawks
  • Colorado Avalanche
  • Dallas Stars
  • Minnesota Wild
  • Nashville Predators
  • St. Louis Blues
  • Winnipeg Jets


  • Anaheim Ducks
  • Arizona Coyotes
  • Calgary Flames
  • Edmonton Oilers
  • Los Angeles Kings
  • San Jose Sharks
  • Vancouver Canucks
  • Vegas Golden Knights

NHL betting odds

If you want to learn to wager on this sport, it’s important to understand the NHL odds system. The advertised odds, puck line, or goal total could occasionally not correspond to your reading of the game, and these advantages will ultimately help you win more bets. You should gamble on a team using your own strategy and judgment if you don’t believe they should be viewed as the underdog. Keeping this in mind, listed odds are merely a guideline established by the bookies to obtain the most movement on both sides of the game. They may not be a reliable indicator of how each squad stacks up against the others.

The type of wager that best fits your style and game expertise should be determined before you start placing aggressive bets. Finding out what works best for you and what kinds of wagers you do best at will frequently be a good indication of which aspects of the game you are most knowledgeable about. Keep betting on first-period totals if you are successful at it. Stay focused on your areas of strength.


Alex Ovechkin, Darrell Green, Wes Unseld, and Walter Johnson were voted the best of the best on Washington’s Mount Rushmore of Sporting activities



The SN Rushmore project selected four professional athletes from the 13 cities that have had at least four of the five leagues represented for at least 20 years: NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, and WNBA. While there were no hard and fast rules regarding the athletes chosen, our panel of experts considered individual resumes, team success, and legacy within each city’s sports landscape. There could be multiple players from the same franchise, and not every franchise had to be represented. Every sports fan has an opinion on this subject. This is ours.

Washington, D.C., is the nation’s capital and the seat of government, but it’s also home to some of the most ardent sports fans in the country. Although football has been the long-running constant, baseball, basketball, and hockey have all carved out their own distinct identities.

When Game Defenders chose the four faces for both the city and its surrounding areas in Maryland and Virginia, the only option was to have equal representation with a delicate balance of current stars and past legends.

Even though the ring drought has entered its third decade, there were many strong candidates for a classic NFL franchise that dates back 90 years and is proud of five championships. Several men had compelling cases, including quarterbacks Sammy Baugh and Joe Theismann, running back John Riggins, and wide receiver Art Monk.

However, the one who played the longest and had the most enduring stature was deemed the best sculpted link to the glory days. Darrell Green was the top burgundy pick, but the red, white, and blue truth is that D.C.’s greatest all-time sport great is from the ice, not the gridiron, field, or court.

It’s only natural that Alexander Ovechkin, who was born in Russia’s capital, would become the ultimate Capital for Washington. While many believe the NHL has lost its star power, Ovechkin’s prolific goal scoring, unrelated to winning the Stanley Cup, is a worthy throwback to the league’s big-name heyday.

Old school also helped “Big TrainWalter Johnson, arguably MLB’s greatest pitcher, make the cut. His dominance in a much earlier era made it difficult for any future Senators or Nationals to unseat him. Johnson’s illustrious all-D.C. career ended the same year the real Mount Rushmore was completed, not long after he received his one World Series ring.

Because it’s Washington, an unsung hero is required: underrated, undersized big man Wes Unseld. The late Bullets rebounder extraordinaire was in the thick of it all when the team relocated from Baltimore to Washington, D.C. Unseld, like Ovechkin, won a major indoor championship late in his career as a centering all-around force.

Game Defenders turned to prominent D.C. sports journalist and University of Maryland professor Kevin Blackistone, who was born and raised in Washington, for a local expert on these Mount Rushmore four.

“There should be no real arguments here,” Blackistone said. “It’s pretty cut and clear to me.”

ALEXANDER OVECHKIN (Capitals, 2005-present)

Alex is his name. He’s known as the “Great Eight.” Call him Ovi or simply Ovie. Simply put, he is one of the greatest pure goal scorers in NHL history, and possibly the best ever.

Ovechkin, like other superstars in his sport, was a can’t-miss prospect when the Capitals selected him as the first overall pick in 2004 when he became officially eligible. Fortunately, the NHL did not extend the lockout, which would have kept him in Moscow. As a rookie, he immediately became a Washington dynamo and hasn’t let up with his nose for putting the puck in the net since.

D.C. could be the most hockey-crazy city outside of Canada. Since stepping onto the ice, Ovechkin has provided Caps fans with shot after shot and goal after goal to make them happy. With the long-awaited Cup in 2019, his local sports immortality was complete. From the regular season to the playoffs, Ovechkin has matched and surpassed any D.C. athlete’s previous performance. At 36, Ovechkin is still writing the story of his career and will most likely not be finished until he is number one in goals, even ahead of The Great One, Wayne Gretzky.

“He’s arguably the greatest goal scorer in the history of hockey, and that will be true even if he doesn’t catch Gretzky,” Blackistone said. “If you look at some of the analytics in what he’s been able to do, he’s basically scoring more goals at a time when it is more difficult to score goals in the NHL.

“For many reasons, Washington D.C., has never witnessed a greater athlete than Alexander Ovechkin.”

Some in Washington, particularly in the Ukrainian community, have found it difficult to accept Ovechkin’s Russian nationalism and friendship with Vladimir Putin.

“They have separated the two. They have compartmentalized his politics and his athletic achievements,” Blackistone said of Caps fans. “Then there are casual fans who have struggled with that.”

Whatever the perception of Ovechkin is off the ice, the reception he will receive from Capitals fans who were fortunate to see his generational talent wow them from left wing every game night will be anything but cold.

Ovechkin By The Numbers

All-Star appearances12
Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophies (NHL Top Goal Scorer)9
Hart Memorial Trophy (NHL MVP)3
Goals (third all time)780

GREEN, DARRELL (Redskins, 1983-2002)

Hail to this cornerback with the quickest feet and the biggest heart. It didn’t matter that Green was only 5-9, 194 pounds and attended a small school called Texas A&I at the time. The Houstonian was supposed to be a big-time Washingtonian and a thorn in the side of diehard Dallasites who support the rival Cowboys.

Green would run past everyone and make plays on the ball with a smile that could light up the entire field for two decades. He was the epitome of Joe Gibbs‘ well-rounded championship teams, winning two Super Bowls under the legendary coach.

Green began making key interceptions as a rookie and hasn’t stopped since. He began his career at the age of 23 in 1983 and never seemed to age, playing until he was 42 in 2002. Green was a consummate professional and consistent playmaker, frequently saving his best for key moments during the regular season and playoffs.

“He had signature moments. One of my favorites happened in Chicago during the 1987 playoffs,” Blackistone said. “He was inserted at a desperate time to return punts — which he had done throughout his career when needed. He took it all the way back (52 yards) for a touchdown, tearing his ribcage muscle and cutting across the field holding his side.

“Another one was chasing down Tony Dorsett the length of the field on a long run, saving a touchdown. Another one came in the 1988 playoffs when he made a game-saving breakup.”

It’s one thing to have Green’s unusual longevity in such a physically demanding sport. It’s another thing entirely to back that up with vivacity in order to entertain and inspire a community. Green is also one of the drama-free good guys, which contributes to his longevity as a multigenerational player.

Washington football has existed for nearly a century. The team has produced many legends, including a whopping 16 Hall of Fame players. Green’s main competition for a spot on Mount Rushmore came from his contemporaries, a true testament to the Gibbs era that only adds to Green’s place in the top four of the big four.

“His leadership, his playing the game with joy with nothing controversial — he is the face of this franchise, without question — and he played with some great players,” Blackistone said.

Green By The Numbers

Pro Bowl appearances7
First-team All-Pro4
Super Bowl championships2
Consecutive NFL seasons with at least one interception19*

UNSELD, WES (Bullets, 1968-1981)

Unseld, like Johnny Unitas before him out of Louisville, broke into his league in Baltimore. Unseld was an easy pick for the Bullets as the No. 2 overall pick in 1968, and he rewarded the team right away by winning rookie of the year and MVP in the same season, a feat previously accomplished only by Wilt Chamberlain. Unseld wasted no time as a big fixture in the middle for a long time and earned respect from fans in the Beltway by doing everything right.

While other stars such as Elvin Hayes came and went, Unseld remained in the thick of things, powering the Bullets through their full-time relocation to Washington. Unseld was a prime example of perseverance as his team and individual reward were the 1978 championship for the new home city.

Unseld wowed Bullets fans with his tenacious work on the boards, which he balanced with poetic ballhanding. It was physicality combined with finesse in one solid, steadfast package.

“His signature play on the court was his outlet passing on fast breaks,” Blackistone said. “He anchored the Bullets in the 1970s when they were almost always in the championship hunt.

“The reason he was underrated as an NBA player is because there was no panache to his game. He was playing against guys who were three inches taller than him. But he played against guys such as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, held his own and excelled.”

Unseld made a natural career change to the front office and coaching to keep him with the Bullets through their nickname change to the Wizards three years after he finished playing. The Unselds‘ connection to Washington is represented by his son, Wes Jr., who now coaches his former team.

Wes Sr. and his wife, educator Connie, also gave back to the community, establishing the Unselds School to improve elementary education in Baltimore. Despite the relocation and name change, the Unselds‘ place in Washington sports history is growing.

“He left his indelible mark in Washington as a player and a great guy. Before there was this chatter about social justice and athlete activism, there was Wes Unseld and his wife,” Blackistone said. 

When the older Unseld died two years ago, it was a huge loss. Since then, there has been a growing recognition of his contributions to Washington sports, both on and off the court, as well as beyond the city limits.

Unseld By The Numbers

All-Star appearances5
MVP awards1
Career rebounds (13th in NBA history)13,769
Eastern Conference championships4

JOHNSON, WALTER (Senators, 1907-1927)

Recency bias favours the Nationals, who won their first World Series in 2019, but it wasn’t enough to derail the “Big Train’s” place on Washington’s Mount Rushmore. Ryan Zimmerman, Stephen Strasburg, Juan Soto, Max Scherzer, and even Bryce Harper had basic cases for consideration from Washington’s current MLB team’s past and present. From the Senators‘ final days, slugger Frank Howard was well known in Washington.

It only took a deeper look into the city’s original MLB team to realise that Johnson’s time as a dominant gentle giant on the mound confirmed that he was the only choice to be the diamond face of the Washington mount.

Although Johnson pitched in a much different, pre-integrated era as a right-handed workhorse who racked up the numbers, he did so as Babe Ruth began to bloom and go boom for the Red Sox and Yankees, two more successful AL rivals at the time. Johnson was the ideal power pitcher for his era, which fit D.C.’s love of power players.

Blackistone grew up in Le Droit Park, a D.C. neighbourhood near Howard University and the former home of Griffith Park, where Johnson’s Senators once played. Although Blackistone believes Johnson should be given an asterisk for not facing all of the best hitters prior to MLB integration, Johnson’s mastery in his era cannot be denied.

“My father was well versed in all things Walter Johnson,” Blackistone said. “There’s no question that of the baseball players here in Washington, Walter Johnson is the greatest. What he did in the 1920s, some of that stuff is still unprecedented.”

Johnson’s legend grew as a result of the fact that he starred for a frequently losing team, carrying it as a reliable, stable force. All of his teammates respected him for simply doing a great job until the game-winning shot at the World Series arrived. Despite his intimidating presence, Johnson’s kindness was known throughout the majors, as he became friends with Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, and other stars.

Johnson was one of the “Five Immortals,” along with Ruth, Cobb, Honus Wagner, and fellow ace pitcher Christy Mathewson, who were the first to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Johnson also acted as a model of sportsmanship wherever he went. Few sports have ever had a friendlier opponent.

Johnson went on to manage the Senators after his playing days ended in order to stay in Washington. From his birthplace of Kansas to his adopted home of Maryland, Johnson’s legacy is visible in everything named after him, from schools and roads to public parks and baseball fields. Even songs have been written about what a great athlete he was.

The Big Train” chugged along in Washington for 21 MLB seasons. Johnson was a rock for the Senators and deserves to be immortalised in D.C. granite alongside Ovechkin, Green, and Unseld.

Johnson By The Numbers

Wins (second all time)417
Complete games (fifth all time)531
Career strikeouts3,508
Career shutouts (first all time)110
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2022 NHL Free Agency: Here are all the major signings



2022 NHL Free Agency: Here are all the major signings

The doors to the 2022 NHL free agency period have officially opened. Unrestricted free agents will now be able to sign contracts with NHL teams as they look to bolster their rosters ahead of another 82-game season. It’s now open season on the NHL’s biggest unsigned stars, with the initial flurry of activity now over and more deals expected to come in slowly over the summer months. As the free agency period approached, NHL teams were active in the draft, with players such as Alex DeBrincat and Matt Murray leaving their respective clubs. In the days leading up to the free agency, a number of big UFA targets were also taken off the market, with Evgeni Malkin re-signing in Pittsburgh at the last minute and Valeri Nichushkin staying in Colorado, among others. Oh, and don’t forget to check out our list of the top 20 free agents heading into the offseason before all of the big names sign! The following are all of the major free agent signings during the 2022 NHL free agency period.

G Jack Campbell signs with the Edmonton Oilers

Five-year, $25 million contract The Oilers finally get a quality starting goaltender in Jack Campbell, who signed a big contract with Edmonton.

F Claude Giroux has agreed to terms with the Ottawa Senators.

Three-year, $19.5 million contract After a disappointing playoff exit in Florida at the end of the 2021-22 season, the Hearst, Ontario native returns home to roost with the Senators.

F Johnny Gaudreau signs with the Columbus Blue Jackets

Seven years contract, total cost: $68.25 million Surprise! Instead of joining the Devils or Islanders after the Flyers exited the race, Johnny Gaudreau has agreed to terms with the Blue Jackets in a blockbuster deal.

F Vincent Trocheck signs with the New York Rangers

Seven years Contract, total cost: $39.375 million The Rangers make a big move by signing defensive forward Vincent Trocheck until the age of 36. Trocheck will be a solid middle-six center for the Rangers even in the long run.

F Andrew Copp signs with the Detroit Red Wings

A five-year contract worth $28.125 million Andrew Copp, who scored 20 goals for the first time in his career last year with the Rangers, is helping the Red Wings continue their rebuild.

F Ilya Mikheyev signs with the Vancouver Canucks

Four-year, $19 million contract Ilya Mikheyev earns a raise with the Canucks after a stellar season with the Maple Leafs. Mikheyev is a good depth piece for Vancouver’s bottom six despite not being a dynamic scorer.

G Darcy Kuemper signs with the Washington Capitals

Darcy Kuemper, who just won a Stanley Cup with the Avalanche, is now the starter for Washington and has a big payday. After floundering for a few years in the net without a true starter, the Capitals have found some stability.

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