Hockey is a fluid game. Excluding intermissions, there are only 9 commercial breaks during the entire game. When there are stoppages in play - like penalties which only occur an average of 5 times per game - the game re-starts immediately. This makes for non-stop action up-and-down the 200 foot ice surface.
Making the game even more fluid are on-the-fly substitions. Groups of players come on and off the playing surface as play continues. This means you don't have to wait for the game to move along when the play is stopped. This puts fans on the edge of their seats for the entire game because anything can happen at any time.
The best part: each team only gets one timeout for the game.
We've established hockey is a fast game, but hockey players are even faster. Imagine sprinting, but with ice skates on. Skating, according to physicist Thomas Humphrey is "the fastest way to travel on the surface of the earth on your feet." Hockey players can reach speeds on 25 MPH, faster than the world's greatest sprinters.
What does that mean for fans? It means that there's never a dull moment. Players are skating at high speeds throughout the game which means plays develop fast, games are more unpredictable and collisons are more intense.
Hockey is physical. Hitting is legal. Even fighting is legal. But while fighting gets a lot of attention, there are almost 50 hits per game during normal play. Players use the rink boards regularly smash opponents and while slightly more rare, open ice hits can be more intense than football given the tremendous speeds. Plus, hockey players wear less pads than football players.
Douglas Murray's hit on Pascal Dupuis of the Pittsburgh Penguins
Jason Demers crushes Erik Cole of the Montreal Canadiens
Hockey may be physical, but it is a skill game. Every player on the ice has to use a hockey stick to control a 3" wide, 1" thick rubber puck, but that's just the start. The things NHL players can do with that puck can be jaw-dropping. You think a cross-over or a spin move is impressive....? Well, it is probably better to show you than to try to describe it.
Couture's backhand pass to Pavelski
Clowe's goal off Couture's helper
Thornton's thread to Marleau
Hockey players are premier athletes and even better people. Hockey players may not have gaudy physical numbers (although the NHL now has several players over 6'6" and over 240 lbs - on skates!) but the combination of explosiveness, endurance, balance and toughness (again, on skates!) makes hockey one of, if not the, most demanding sports. Look at the Sharks roster and you will see big, tough guys that bring it every game. Plus, with a culture of modesty, hockey players are generally humble, open to interaction with the public and leaders in the community.
Think you can take a play off in hockey? Nope. With the speed of the game, if you don't give 100% effort you are exposed quickly. Plus, you can't avoid contact in hockey. You always must have a competetive edge or you will get taken out of the game - either by your opponent or your coach.
On a broader level, the NHL has amazing parity so every game matters and every team has a chance to win on a given night. This makes for some of the best playoff races and postseason hockey. Ask a hockey fan what the greatest sporting event is. Most times they will say NHL Playoffs.
This may be specific to the Bay Area, but the hockey experience is only made better by the HP Pavilion environment, staff and amenities. Consistently ranked as one of the best arenas in the United States, HP Pavilion offers fans a clean, friendly and convenient venue for a night out with friends, clients and family - especially kids. THE HP PAVILION EXPERIENCE
Hockey is about passion. From the players to the fans. Hockey fans are knowledgable, considerate and more important welcoming to new fans. The sense of community at a Sharks game is incredible. As many say, they bleed teal. While you may attend a game for entertainment, you may end up with good friendships.