Pucks deep, pucks on net — a hockey clichés primer for the 2020-21 season


One thing that makes hockey unique among North American major sports is its clichés. There are clichés in every sport, but in hockey parlance, it’s an art form.

As we get set for the new NHL season, here’s a primer of what you’re about to hear from players, coaches and announcers.

200-foot player

Don’t be alarmed, this isn’t actually a player 200 feet tall (although Zdeno Chara is close). A 200-foot player is one who plays well in all three regions of the rink: offensive zone, neutral zone, defensive zone. Not just a well-rounded player, but one who is above average in all three zones.

Standing on his head

This would be impressive, especially on ice. This refers to a goalie who is having a great game, making many acrobatic saves to keep his team in the game. 


This term was part of hockeyspeak long before the Flyers' mascot emerged from under the Wells Fargo Center bleachers a few years ago. Gritty means exactly what it sounds like — describing a player who may not be the most talented or athletically gifted, but does the little things, the intangibles that help his team.

Muck and/or grind

Muck and grind are often mentioned together; these are verbs used to describe gritty players. They refer to doing the hard work to get or keep possession of the puck.

Up on his skates 

Technically, virtually every player is up on his skates, or he’s on his back. But this means a player who is full of energy, and seemingly playing at another speed from the other players on the ice.


Greasy goal

Some goals are pretty, resulting from a great pass or a slick deke before scoring. Then there are “greasy goals.” Goals that are far from frame-worthy, and sometimes involve one or more players on all fours, in a scrum in the goalie’s crease.

Rolling four lines

If all of your forward lines are all “up on their skates,” you are officially rolling four lines. This almost always means very good things for your team, unless the other team’s goalie is standing on his head.

Lower/upper-body injury

The secret language of NHL teams, this is the limit to which they are required to report their players’ injuries. An “upper-body injury” can cover everything from cracked ribs to split ends. A “lower-body injury” could mean a severed leg or athlete’s foot.

Soft goal

This is a goal that goalies never want to allow. A save in this case would have a very low degree of difficulty, but sometimes, soft goals get through. You know what they say ...

Put pucks on net

One of the oldest, and truest, of the truisms in hockey. “Put pucks on net, good things will happen.” As if there was another way to win hockey games than score more goals than the other team.

Get pucks deep

Another tried and true hockey saying, on its face, this is similar to a punt in hockey: give away possession, but back the other team deep into its own end of the field/ice. Doing so in hockey is to “get pucks deep,” at which point the forwards motor in after it, in the attempt to regain possession and create scoring chances.

Compete level

If a team is outplayed, or out-hustled, that team didn’t have the right “compete level” for the game. See also: “They wanted it more.”

Play a full 60

If your team played with a high “compete level” for the entire game, you “played a full 60.” Never mind the fact that every team technically plays a full 60 in every game (and in many cases more, if the game goes to OT).

Point on the road

This is a satisfactory result for a team playing away from their home “barn” or arena. If you go on the road and get a point in the standings, walk out with your head held high.

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