Besides being a movie title, slap shot is a hockey term for a high-velocity shot produced by lifting the stick back over the shoulder and bringing it forward quickly. Hockey has a language of its own and, despite that film's somewhat exaggerated sound track, all the words are not of four letters.
This concluding article will explain some basic hockey terminology, partly in self defense. If the reader understands what is meant by the slot, for example, it is easier for a hockey writer to use that term than to repeat, perhaps 80 times a season, that a forward scored from the area in front of the goal, between the end faceoff circles, where he tries to position himself to receive a pass, deflect a shot or screen the goalie.
When a defenseman steers an opponent out of the slot, he is clearing the area. In a related move, when a team knocks the puck from its defensive area into center ice, it is clearing the zone.
Offside is a common cause of annoying whistles, but it also forces teams to set up plays, rather than simply pass the puck from end to end. There are two offside violations, the most common of which occurs when a player precedes the puck over the blue line into the offensive zone.
Before screaming at the linesman, note two things. If a player has one skate in contact with the blue line when the puck crosses, he is onside. And, if a defender intercepts an offside pass and carries the puck out of the zone, there is no stoppage in play. The linesman raises his arm when the offside occurs and waits to see who gets possession. This is known as a slow whistle.
The other offside violation is a two-line pass, and that rule was modified just this summer. Previously, a player could legally accept a pass over two lines - blue and center red - only if he was behind each line when the puck crossed it. Now the defensive blue line has been eliminated from this restriction, so that a player may receive a multiline pass if he is behind the red line at the time the puck crosses it. In determining this offside rule, the opposition of the puck is crucial, not the skates.
Icing the puck is the act of hitting the puck from one's own side of the center red line across the opposite goal line. When a member of the defending team other than the goalie touches the puck in this situation, the linesman blows his whistle and a faceoff - dropping the puck between a player of each team - is held at the opposite end of the ice.
Icing is legal if a team is shorthanded. It is not called if the goalie is first to touch the puck, if the puck passes through the gaol crease, if the puck is hit down the ice directly from a faceoff or if, in the linesman's judgment, a defender could have reached the puck before it crossed the goal line, but delayed hoping for a whistle. In each of these case, the linesman spreads his arm in a baseball umpire's stafe signal. In hockey, that's a washout.
A power play is an all-out attack by a team with a manpower advantage because of an opposition penalty. The men who play just inside the blue line on a power play and try to keep the puck in the attacking zone are the point men.
A breakaway occurs when there is nobody between the puck carrier and the opposition's goal except the goalie. When a player passes the puck ahead to a leading teammate, he is said to headman the puck.
A drop pass is accomplished when the puck carrier leaves the puck behind him, to be picked up by a trailing teammate. A flip pass is made by lifting the puck over an opponent's stick to a teammate.
To deke an opponent is to feint him out of position. Deking is most common in reference to a player who, instead of shooting at a goalie, tries to pull him out of position and slip the puck behind him.
A policeman is a player who is ready to fight opponents attempting to intimidate his teammates. A cement head is a player of little hockey ability who is used to practice intimidation.
Changing lines on the fly refers to substitutions while the puck is still in play. A substitute may step on the ice when the man he is replacing is within 10 feet of the players' bench. However, the sub will receive a minor penalty if he plays the puck or checks an opponent while the retiring player is still on the ice.
Forechecking constitutes harassment of the puck carrier while he is in his defending zone. Backchecking is an attempt by forwards to regain the puck while skating toward their defending zone.
A body check occurs when a player hits an opponent with his body. This is legal only when the opponent either possesses or has just passed the puck. Checking an opponent without the puck constitutes interference.
Cross checking is a check delivered with both hands on the stick and no part of the stick on the ice. Another maneuver calling for a minor penalty is charging, which results from taking more than two strides before checking an opponent.