The playoffs are a great time for snoopin’ on other teams’ websites and social media accounts. I was checking out the Rangers, who I really hope annihilate the Flyers tonight in Game 7. Don’t get me wrong – I’m by no means a Rangers fan. I just hate the Flyers.

I noticed two things that really impressed me with the Rangers.

First, they “Highlight” posts on their Facebook timeline. This breaks up the monotony of the square posts and draws attention to ones that are more significant. If anything, they overuse this function, but I don’t see a lot of other teams using it all, so I’ll still call it a win for the Rangers.

When you have a sick photo like this, why wouldn’t you want to highlight it?

Rangers Flyers Season Recap

Same goes after you win Game 1 of the first round of the playoffs. Yes, it’s just one game, but you can’t win a series without winning a game. Ask the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Rangers win Game 1

My second favorite is their current landing page: it’s a really awesome interactive collage of fan photos and tweets. The boxes periodically change out to reveal new images (note: which made it hard to get a screen shot of the whole thing!) You can enter your comment directly on the page. This creates great hype around the playoffs and engages fans, regardless of where they live or if they can attend games.

Rangers Interactive Landing Page

Infographics are everywhere you look on the Internet, and hockey isn’t any different. With all the stats that circle around hockey, I’m actually surprised we haven’t seen then sooner or across more teams.

The Penguins and Hurricanes have started sharing game recaps as infographics. It’s the same information they would share in other formats before, but now it’s more appealing, memorable, interesting and shareable. I waited until the teams faced each other to compare infographics of the exact same game.

Larger versions of the infographics are available for the Canes and the Pens, but they’re included below for quick side-by-side comparison.

canes-pens pens-cans

 

Headers

Despite a loss, the Pens find a positive to focus on with Crosby’s point milestone. For the Canes, while Khudobin had a great night, I would have rather seen a picture of Lindholm at the top. Or change the teaser to something about the goalie.

Goals

Pens win here. Infographics are all about sharing information. Including the numbers of the players who scored is one more way to inform (or remind) your audience of what happened. You can still tell the Canes scored twice in the second period.

Appearance

Overall, I think the Canes infographic has a cleaner, sharper look, but the Pens graphic has a better text to background contrast, making it easier to read.

Three Stars

The Canes do have less room to work with because they included the three stars of the game, all Hurricanes. Perhaps if some of the content was larger it would be easier to read. The Pens have included a silhouette for the other team before, but only if at least one Penguin is also a star of the game.

Call to Action

The footer is an attempt at a call to action to keep fans engaged, but what bothers me is that they look like buttons but they’re not linkable. Writing out the links wouldn’t help, so I almost wonder if you leave it off. Chances are you’re already on their website or social media if you’re viewing the infographic (unless lots of other bloggers are also sharing!) Sharing the information on the next game is a smart way of letting fans know when to tune back in.

I love trash talking as much as the next person. To me, it can be half the fun. I have friends not only across the country who cheer for various teams, but around the world. One of the things I love about hockey is the quality of sportsmanship I find missing in some other professional sports.

The Olympics bring an interesting paradigm to the NHL – their season is put on hold so teammates can travel halfway around the world to compete against each other on the world’s largest stage, only to return home, leave it all behind and play together again.

With medals and bragging rights on the line, it’s always nice to see the respect in the competition. I think this video captures that – a few jabs, a little bit of an edge and ultimately respect of the opponent.

Dear Canada

Dear Canada Video thumbnail

Dear Canada Video

Why Olympic Hockey is better than NHL

Posted: February 18, 2014 in Just Sharing
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My favorite is #4. The All-Star games don’t compare to the Olympics. I love watching some of the tricks and shooting, but the games are some quality hockey!

11 Reasons Why Olympics are Better

Hockey is hockey is hockey, right? Not for the Canadians. While the Olympics mean we only have a break from NHL hockey, Montreal kept a countdown until their teammates got back to the US and we returned to our regularly scheduled season. The posts had high share-ability and were timely without directly reporting on what was happening in Russia.

Canadiens Facebook Countdown

The Blues capitalized on the success of TJ Oshie in the shootout against Russia, posting a story just on the tweets that made him a trending topic on Twitter. This honored their superstar’s performance in the games like a proud parent posting a report card on the fridge.

Teams had mixed approaches in talking about their players and the countries represented in the Men’s Olympic games. Some made the focus their players there, sharing the country they represented secondary. Others chose to focus on the countries playing, then added their teammates who took part. The Penguins came up with a fun play-on-words, and referred to their teammates in Russia as the “OlymPens”.

My favorite post is now lost in cyberspace. If anyone knows what I’m referencing, please let me know so I can give it proper credit. I can’t remember if it was a team’s post or part of an ad campaign, but someone perfectly captured how I felt watching some of the Olympic games by comparing it to watching your kids playing, but on opposite teams so you’re torn who to cheer for.

These Winter Olympics are the first for me as a hockey fan. I probably shouldn’t admit this, but last time I was backpacking through New Zealand and got in an argument with a Canadian about the sport. (Seriously though, how I was I supposed to know there was a sport with three periods instead of quarters or halves?) Rookie mistake.

I also think I was in an airport when Crosby scored the winning, over-time goal for gold. I didn’t fully recognize the significance, but I remember the reactions.

We’re not that familiar with most Olympic athletes, but hockey would be one of the exceptions with the break in the NHL season for players to compete. We know names not just of people competing for Team USA, but for several other countries as well.

Below are the breakdowns of the NHL players going to the Olympics, first by team then by country.

BY NHL TEAM

Chicago Blackhawks – 10 players

Michal Handzus, Slovakia
Niklas Hjalmarsson, Sweden
Marian Hossa, Slovakia
Patrick Kane, USA
Duncan Keith, Canada
Marcus Kruger, Sweden
Johnny Oduya, Sweden
Michal Rozsival, Czech Republic
Patrick Sharp, Canada
Jonathan Toews, Canada

Detroit Red Wings – 10 players

Daniel Alfredsson, Sweden
Pavel Datsyuk, Russia
Jonathan Ericsson, Sweden
Jonas Gustavsson, Sweden
Jimmy Howard, USA
Tomas Jurco , Slovakia
Niklas Kronwall, Sweden
Gustav Nyquist, Sweden
Tomas Tatar, Slovakia
Henrik Zetterberg, Sweden

St. Louis Blues – 9 players

David Backes, USA
Patrik Berglund, Sweden
Jay Bouwmeester, Canada
Jaroslav Halak, Slovakia
T.J. Oshie, USA
Alex Pietrangelo, Canada
Kevin Shattenkirk, USA
Alexander Steen, Sweden
Vladimir Tarasenko, Russia

Montreal Canadiens – 7 players

Peter Budaj, Slovakia
Alexei Emelin, Russia
Andrei Markov, Russia
Max Pacioretty, USA
Tomas Plekanec, Czech Republic
Carey Price, Canada
P.K. Subban, Canada

Pittsburgh Penguins – 7 players

Sidney Crosby, Canada
Jussi Jokinen, Finland
Chris Kunitz, Canada
Olli Maatta, Finland
Evgeni Malkin, Russia
Paul Martin, USA
Brooks Orpik, USA

NY Rangers – 7 players

Ryan Callahan, USA
Carl Hagelin, Sweden
Henrik Lundqvist, Sweden
Ryan McDonagh, USA
Rick Nash, Canada
Derek Stepan, USA
Mats Zuccarello, Norway

Vancouver Canucks – 7  players

Raphael Diaz, Switzerland
Alexander Edler, Sweden
Dan Hamhuis, Canada
Ryan Kesler, USA
Roberto Luongo, Canada
Daniel Sedin, Sweden
Yannick Weber, Switzerland

Anaheim Ducks – 7 players

Cam Fowler, USA
Ryan Getzlaf, Canada
Jonas Hiller, Switzerland
Corey Perry, Canada
Teemu Selanne, Finland
Jakob Silfverberg, Sweden
Sami Vatanen, Finland

LA Kings – 6 players

Dustin Brown, USA
Jeff Carter, Canada
Drew Doughty, Canada
Anze Kopitar, Slovenia
Jonathan Quick, USA
Slava Voynov, Russia

Tampa Bay Lightning – 5  players

Radko Gudas, Czech Republic
Ondrej Palat, Czech Republic
Richard Panik, Slovakia
Sami Salo, Finland
Martin St. Louis, Canada

Philadelphia Flyers – 5  players

Andrej Meszaros, Slovakia
Michael Raffl, Austria
Mark Streit, Switzerland
Kimmo Timonen, Finland
Jakub Voracek, Czech Republic

Phoenix Coyotes – 5  players

Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Sweden
Martin Hanzal, Czech Republic
Lauri Korpikoski, Finland
Zbynek Michalek, Czech Republic
Mike Smith, Canada

Washington Capitals – 5 players

Nicklas Backstrom, Sweden
John Carlson, USA
Martin Erat, Czech Republic
Marcus Johansson, Sweden
Alex Ovechkin, Russia

Boston Bruins – 5 players

Patrice Bergeron, Canada
Zdeno Chara, Slovakia
Loui Eriksson, Sweden
David Krejci, Czech Republic
Tuukka Rask, Finland

Carolina Hurricanes – 4  players

Justin Faulk, USA
Tuomo Ruutu, Finland
Andrej Sekera, Slovakia
Alexander Semin, Russia

Buffalo Sabres – 4 players

Jhonas Enroth, Sweden
Zemgus Girgensons, Latvia
Ryan Miller, USA
Henrik Tallinder, Sweden

Minnesota Wild – 4  players

Mikael Granlund, Finland
Nino Niederreiter, Switzerland
Zach Parise, USA
Ryan Suter, USA

Winnipeg Jets – 4 players

Michael Frolik, Czech Republic
Olli Jokinen, Finland
Ondrej Pavelec, Czech Republic
Blake Wheeler, USA

San Jose Sharks – 4 players

Patrick Marleau, Canada
Antti Niemi, Finland
Joe Pavelski, USA
Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Canada

NJ Devils – 4 players

Damien Brunner, Switzerland
Patrik Elias, Czech Republic
Jaromir Jagr, Czech Republic
Marek Zidlicky, Czech Republic

Colorado Avalanche – 4 players

Matt Duchene, Canada
Gabriel Landeskog, Sweden
Paul Stastny, USA
Semyon Varlamov, Russia

Columbus Blue Jackets – 4 players

Artem Anisimov, Russia
Sergei Bobrovsky, Russia
Nikita Nikitin, Russia
Fedor Tyutin, Russia

Dallas Stars – 3 players

Jamie Benn, Canada
Kari Lehtonen, Finland
Valeri Nichushkin, Russia

NY Islanders – 3 players

Michael Grabner, Austria
John Tavares, Canada
Thomas Vanek, Austria

Nashville Predators – 3 players
Roman Josi, Switzerland
Simon Moser, Switzerland
Shea Weber, Canada

Toronto Maple Leafs – 3 players

Phil Kessel, USA
Nikolai Kulemin, Russia
James van Riemsdyk, USA

Edmonton Oilers – 3 players

Anton Belov, Russia
Ales Hemsky, Czech Republic
Martin Marincin, Slovakia

Florida Panthers – 2 players

Aleksander Barkov, Finland
Tomas Kopecky, Slovakia

Ottawa Senators – 2 players

Erik Karlsson, Sweden
Milan Michalek, Czech Republic

Calgary Flames – 2 players

Reto Berra, Switzerland
Ladislav Smid, Czech Republic

BY COUNTRY

USA – 25  players

David Backes, St. Louis Blues
Dustin Brown, LA Kings
Ryan Callahan, NY Rangers
John Carlson, Washington Capitals
Justin Faulk, Carolina Hurricanes
Cam Fowler, Anaheim Ducks
Jimmy Howard, Detroit Red Wings
Paul Martin, Pittsburgh Penguins
Ryan McDonagh, NY Rangers
Ryan Miller, Buffalo Sabres
Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks
Ryan Kesler, Vancouver Canucks
Phil Kessel, Toronto Maple Leafs
Brooks Orpik, Pittsburgh Penguins
T.J. Oshie, St. Louis Blues
Max Pacioretty, Montreal Canadiens
Zach Parise, Minnesota Wild
Joe Pavelski, San Jose Sharks
Jonathan Quick, LA Kings
Kevin Shattenkirk, St. Louis Blues
Paul Stastny, Colorado Avalanche
Derek Stepan, NY Rangers
Ryan Suter, Minnesota Wild
James van Riemsdyk, Toronto Maple Leafs
Blake Wheeler, Winnipeg Jets

CANADA – 25  players

Jamie Benn, Dallas Stars
Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins
Jay Bouwmeester, St. Louis Blues
Jeff Carter, LA Kings
Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins
Drew Doughty, LA Kings
Matt Duchene, Colorado Avalanche
Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim Ducks
Dan Hamhuis, Vancouver Canucks
Duncan Keith, Chicago Blackhawks
Chris Kunitz, Pittsburgh Penguins
Roberto Luongo, Vancouver Canucks
Patrick Marleau, San Jose Sharks
Rick Nash, NY Rangers
Corey Perry, Anaheim Ducks
Alex Pietrangelo, St. Louis Blues
Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens
Patrick Sharp, Chicago Blackhawks
Mike Smith, Phoenix Coyotes
Martin St. Louis, Tampa Bay Lightning
P.K. Subban, Montreal Canadiens
John Tavares, NY Islanders
Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks
Marc-Edouard Vlasic, San Jose Sharks
Shea Weber, Nashville Predators

SWEDEN – 24 players

Daniel Alfredsson, Detroit Red Wings
Nicklas Backstrom, Washington Capitals
Patrik Berglund, St. Louis Blues
Alexander Edler, Vancouver Canucks
Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Phoenix Coyotes
Jhonas Enroth, Buffalo Sabres
Jonathan Ericsson, Detroit Red Wings
Loui Eriksson, Boston Bruins
Jonas Gustavsson, Detroit Red Wings
Carl Hagelin, NY Rangers
Niklas Hjalmarsson, Chicago Blackhawks
Marcus Johansson, Washington Capitals
Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators
Niklas Kronwall, Detroit Red Wings
Marcus Kruger, Chicago Blackhawks
Gabriel Landeskog, Colorado Avalanche
Henrik Lundqvist, NY Rangers
Gustav Nyquist, Detroit Red Wings
Johnny Oduya, Chicago Blackhawks
Daniel Sedin, Vancouver Canucks
Jakob Silfverberg, Anaheim Ducks
Alexander Steen, St. Louis Blues
Henrik Tallinder, Buffalo Sabres
Henrik Zetterberg, Detroit Red Wings

CZECH REPUBLIC – 17  players

Patrik Elias, NJ Devils
Martin Erat, Washington Capitals
Michael Frolik, Winnipeg Jets
Radko Gudas, Tampa Bay Lightning
Martin Hanzal, Phoenix Coyotes
Ales Hemsky, Edmonton Oilers
Jaromir Jagr, NJ Devils
David Krejci, Boston Bruins
Milan Michalek, Ottawa Senators
Zbynek Michalek, Phoenix Coyotes
Ondrej Palat, Tampa Bay Lightning
Ondrej Pavelec, Winnipeg Jets
Tomas Plekanec, Montreal Canadiens
Michal Rozsival, Chicago Blackhawks
Ladislav Smid, Calgary Flames
Jakub Voracek, Philadelphia Flyers
Marek Zidlicky, NJ Devils

RUSSIA – 16 players

Artem Anisimov, Columbus Blue Jackets
Anton Belov, Edmonton Oilers
Sergei Bobrovsky, Columbus Blue Jackets
Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings
Alexei Emelin, Montreal Canadiens
Nikolai Kulemin, Toronto Maple Leafs
Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins
Andrei Markov, Montreal Canadiens
Valeri Nichushkin, Dallas Stars
Nikita Nikitin, Columbus Blue Jackets
Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals
Alexander Semin, Carolina Hurricanes
Vladimir Tarasenko, St. Louis Blues
Fedor Tyutin, Columbus Blue Jackets
Semyon Varlamov, Colorado Avalanche
Slava Voynov, LA Kings

FINLAND – 14  players

Aleksander Barkov, Florida Panthers
Mikael Granlund, Minnesota Wild
Jussi Jokinen, Pittsburgh Penguins
Olli Jokinen, Winnipeg Jets
Lauri Korpikoski, Phoenix Coyotes
Kari Lehtonen, Dallas Stars
Olli Maatta, Pittsburgh Penguins
Antti Niemi,  San Jose Sharks
Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins
Tuomo Ruutu, Carolina Hurricanes
Sami Salo, Tampa Bay Lightning
Teemu Selanne, Anaheim Ducks
Kimmo Timonen, Philadelphia Flyers
Sami Vatanen, Anaheim Ducks

SLOVAKIA – 12  players

Peter Budaj, Slovakia, Montreal Canadiens
Zdeno Chara, Boston Bruins
Jaroslav Halak, St. Louis Blues
Michal Handzus,  Chicago Blackhawks
Marian Hossa, Chicago Blackhawks
Tomas Jurco , Detroit Red Wings
Tomas Kopecky, Florida Panthers
Martin Marincin, Edmonton Oilers
Andrej Meszaros, Philadelphia Flyers
Richard Panik, Tampa Bay Lightning
Andrej Sekera, Carolina Hurricanes
Tomas Tatar, Detroit Red Wings

SWITZERLAND – 9  players

Reto Berra, Calgary Flames
Damien Brunner, NJ Devils
Raphael Diaz, Vancouver Canucks
Jonas Hiller, Anaheim Ducks
Roman Josi, Nashville Predators
Simon Moser, Nashville Predators
Nino Niederreiter, Minnesota Wild
Mark Streit, Philadelphia Flyers
Yannick Weber, Vancouver Canucks

AUSTRIA – 3  players

Michael Grabner, NY Islanders
Michael Raffl, Philadelphia Flyers
Thomas Vanek, NY Islanders

LATVIA – 1  players

Zemgus Girgensons, Buffalo Sabres

SLOVENIA – 1  players

Anze Kopitar, LA Kings

NORWAY – 1  players
Mats Zuccarello, NY Rangers

 

Everyone should experience taking a child to his/her first game. I recently had this experience by taking my friend Andrew to his first hockey game, the Carolina Hurricanes taking on the Tampa Bay Lightning. Mind you, Andrew knew nothing about hockey when we got in the car, but he fills the stereotype of a boy loving any and all sports. It’s hard to say which one of us enjoyed the game more.

I had plans to go to the game with a coworker, who told me barely 24 hours before the game he was sick and couldn’t go. I immediately posted to Facebook hoping someone would buy his ticket and go with me, but also offered the pair just in case.

Andrew’s mom asked about the ticket for him, on the condition I would take him to help him understand what was happening. We made plans for the next day. I advised her to dress him layers and preferably in red, but at least anything but blue. When I picked him up, I learned red was his favorite color, and he wore every red thing he had – his Spiderman hat, Manchester United scarf and redshoes. As he buckled his seatbelt, he said he needed one of those foam fingers.

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Watching a sporting event that you love with someone who doesn’t know the game is always interesting. They ask questions about things you take for granted or things you’ve never noticed yourself. Add to that the perspective of an 8-year old, and it makes for an entertaining evening.

Andrew found it surprising that two weather elements were the mascots (hurricanes and lightning). We then had a debate as to which would be more deadly, in which Andrew concluded a hurricane. He was confused, though, once we got inside and saw the actual mascot for the Hurricanes – a pig. I challenged Andrew to think of how you would dress up as a hurricane. His answer involved a lot of hand motions and the color grey.

We had great seats – maybe ten rows back from the home bench, along center ice. Andrew was on the edge of his seat from the second the puck dropped.

The Hurricanes had a tough start, and before the end of the first period they were down 3-0 and changed their goalie. I had seen the backup goalie getting ready, and quickly explained what might happen. As they changed, Andrew jumped right on the bandwagon of the yelling fans – voicing his praise for the coach’s decision.

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Throughout the game Andrew asked questions like “They can use their hands?” and “Why can they hit each other but can’t trip each other?” (If anyone has an answer better than “because those are the rules,” let me know!) I explained offsides in soccer terms, knowing he would understand that.

Any time the Canes did score, Andrew was jumping up and down cheering for his new team, foam finger waving. Unfortunately the Lightning scored more, and after one goal Andrew muttered, “This makes me want to say bad words!”

Despite the loss, Andrew was glowing from excitement. He declared himself a hockey fan, and his raw passion was contagious. I love hockey, but never before had I watched from the perspective of a kid that simply loves athletic competition. It made me fall in love with the sport all over again, and for more reasons.

I sent him home on a solid dinner of popcorn and soda, and the promise to bring him to another game.