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A Guide to Understanding All the Clichés You'll Hear This NHL Season

Players and commentators have a collection of go-to hockey phrases that they love spewing out. Here's what those nonsense words actually mean.
Illustration by Marvin Lau/VICE

A real pro's pro plays the game the right way, especially in the dirty areas, by getting pucks in deep and on net while consistently making good hockey play after good hockey play with a high compete level for a full 60 every time they step on the ice.

If you have literally no idea what that means, then this guide to hockey clichés is for you.

It's often not clear exactly what commentators, coaches, and players mean when they spit out cliché after cliché during day-to-day broadcasts, media scrums, and pressers, so let us enlighten you.


These are the gems you will hear most during the NHL season, and a translation of what they actually mean.

Play the Right Way

This versatile cliché is a favorite of both broadcasters and players alike, but the media especially likes to really lean on this baby. A commentator or analyst may use it in the context of praising a mediocre talent who has no notable skills or stand-out talents but is still somehow cashing a regular NHL paycheck. Can also be used to describe a team that sucks but is very entertaining to watch.

"They really play the game the right way."

Translation: This dude and/or team can't particularly skate, shoot, pass, create turnovers, score on the powerpay or kill penalties—and really does nothing of note, ever—but they're in the NHL somehow, so, here we are.

Pucks on Net

Legendary. This puppy has been around since the dawn of time and is most often used by players during pregame and intermission interviews, where deep, analytical in-game strategy such as this is discussed.

"Ahh, we just needa get more pucks on net and good things will happen."

Translation: Uhhhh, I got my head smashed into the glass several times in the first period, so, not exactly sure what you just asked me, but I do know we're just going to take some shots on that big ol’ mesh thing over there for the rest of the game and hope for the best.

Dirty Areas

Refers to anywhere on the ice where one boasts a particular high risk of getting destroyed via an elbow, shoulder or stick to the chops. These areas include along the boards, in front of the net, at each blueline, and in the corners. They are the spots where legends are made and brain cells are murdered at a rapid pace.

"We need to get to those dirty areas and fight for those pucks."


Translation: Lol by 'we' I mean that talentless goon playing on my left wing. I get paid to score, bruh—Imma chill right here in this cozy high-slot area until you find me.

Worst Lead in Hockey

This here is an extra weird one because no one can really figure out what the worst lead in hockey really is. Is a two-goal lead the worst lead in hockey? Or is it a three-goal lead? Both variations have been used time and time again, and both variations are extremely dumb. A broadcaster and commentator favorite.

"Everybody knows a three-goal lead is the worst lead in hockey!"

Translation: l don't understand simple math, as most would agree that one goal is, in fact, the worst lead in hockey.

You Know / And uhh, but uhh

These are space fillers used when the proper words simply aren't surfacing during a presser or postgame scrum. Some guys, like Brock Boeser for instance, have gloriously taken these to the next level.

Translation: l have no idea what I'm actually saying, nor do I even, in the slightest bit, wish to speak with you right now, peasant reporter.

Heavy Shot

Another way to describe a hard shot, for some reason. Really couldn't tell you the difference between heavy and hard (hint: there's none) when it comes to puck velocity, but many broadcasters and players will drop this term when someone who doesn't look like they can shoot hard actually does.

"His shot doesn't seem that hard but it's deceptively heavy."


Translation: That dude weights like a buck-30 and shouldn't be able to shoot that hard so we need to throw another adjective in there to confuse people as much as we are.

Along the Wall

One of the dirty areas. The trenches! That large plastic wall that surrounds the entire 200 by 85-foot ice surface, AKA, the boards.

"We need to play harder along the wall."

Translation: No one on our team wants to get their skulls crushed into the boards or glass to retrieve a stupid puck. We don't care THAT much.

Compete Level

A nice, less-insulting way of saying a player and/or team sucks ass. Also dropped commonly when a player or team as a whole is extremely hungover. Compete = work ethic.

"We know we have the skill and talent but our compete level just wasn't there today."

Translation: We didn’t work hard enough to win because we logged too many hours at The Tavern last night and most were scared to piss themselves right on the ice.

Goal-Scorer's Goal

Technically, every goal that enters the net is a goal-scorer's goal because, well, the person who scored is officially a goal-scorer and that would be their goal. However, this particular term refers to those highlight-reel tallies that really only a select few players can pull off.

"See Ovi on that one? Just an absolute goal-scorer's goal there, wow!"

Translation: Player who is good at scoring indeed scores a nice goal.

He's Going to Want That One Back

Very dumb term describing a goaltender's mindset after allowing a weak or soft goal which doesn't take into account the fact that every goalie who has ever played the position wants every single goal they've ever allowed back. Another commentator favorite.

"That one slid right through the wickets. Andersen is definitely going to want that one back."


Translation: I have zero idea how to analyze goaltending so I'm just going to shit this generic saying out of my mouth because I heard someone else say it before.

Pucks in Deep

The simple art of flipping the puck into the offensive zone or rimming it around the boards (rather than carrying it into the zone) with hopes that some good work along the wall will result in possession down low. "Deep" refers to behind the net, below the goal line, and in the corners. Some of the dirty areas, if you will.

"We gotta get more pucks in deep on this defense." Translation: Let's just dump the puck in constantly and crush some opposing defenseman's skull, shall we?

Good Stick

A player who is efficient at retrieving pucks and forcing turnovers is often said to have a good stick. A skater (or goalie) with the ability to sneak in some greasy, undetected slashes, spears and trips without getting penalized is also utilizing a good stick. Also referred to as active stick.

"Ahhh, Fergy had a good stick going tonight."

Translation: Fergy jabbed some dude right in the junk without getting caught. Good for him.

Play a Full 60

A hockey game is, usually, 60 minutes long, so this is, in fact, the least confusing of any clichés we've presented here. It literally just means a team or individual plays fairly well for the entire game and doesn't shit the bed for part of it.

"We needed to play a full 60 tonight but just didn't have it."


Translation: We're way too out of shape to giver full-out for that long every night.

A Good Hockey Play

Usually refers to an absolutely egregious hit or controversial penalty that Old School Hockey Men feel is a part of playing the game the right way (see above).

"You hate to see anyone get hurt but that hit was just a good hockey play."

Translation: Though it resulted in a severe concussion and spinal cord injury, that was very entertaining to watch from the stands or in front of my TV.

A Real Pro's Pro

Basically, a player who isn't very good but he sticks in the league because everybody likes him a lot.

"Bobby's best days are behind him but man oh man is he ever a real pro's pro."

Translation: Bobby can barely skate anymore but no one, and I mean no one, organizes team benders like him. We gotta keep him around.

A Character/Glue Guy

Similar to a pro's pro in the sense that the glue guy is universally loved and does a lot to keep morale in the dressing room high, but these are the lads who specifically take on the role of trying to beat the shit out of anyone who messes with their teammates.

"Chubbs is just oozing with character."

Translation: Chubbs is a meathead and is willing to punch anyone in the face who looks at him or his teammates sideways—we love Chubbs.

Giving it 110 Percent

Yeah, this one really sucks. Rather than break it down for you, we'll let this clip from arguably the greatest episode of The Simpsons take it from here:

We Wanted it More

No, I assure you that you did not.