Off the Crossbar: Vegas Lingo Translated for Rookie Hockey Fans

By adding the Vegas Golden Knights as its 31st franchise, the National Hockey League isn’t just bringing the excitement of an internationally renown resort city; it’s also bringing a whole new hockey lexicon to the desert.

The words commonly heard and spoken in Vegas have different meanings in hockey. In an effort to help new hockey fans in Sin City become more familiar with hockey, we serve up this handy reference dictionary. While not exhaustive, it does contain the most common terms.

Vegas Lingo Translated for the Rookie Hockey Fan: A-Z

Aces: (noun) Elite players such as Connor McDavid or Sidney Crosby.

All In: (adjective) Pulling the goalie in favor of an extra attacker.

Ante Up (also Antti Up): (verb phrase) Playing a goalie like Antti Niemi. Expect a bevy of goals against.

Backdoor: (adjective) A type of pass from a player behind the net to a teammate in front of the net.

Bender: (noun) Short for ankle bender, a derogatory term for a player who bends his ankles when skating.

Mark Messier guaranteed a victory in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals against the New Jersey Devils in 1994. (Image Credits: JR_in_NYC)

Big Bet: (noun) Guaranteeing a victory. See Messier, Mark.

Black Aces: (noun) Players who are called up from the AHL when NHL teams are allowed to expand their rosters when they make the playoffs. These are guys who have to be ready at a moment’s notice. They practice separately and hang out separately from the rest of the team. They are usually riding bikes in the locker room during the game. These guys have usually run out of luck. Created by Eddie Shore.

Black Jack: (noun) A term pundits use for a young star player who gets his coach fired. See Buffalo/Jack Eichel.

Break their ankles: (verb phrase) When a defenseman is deked while skating backward.

Cash in: (verb phrase) When a player reaches unrestricted free agency and is still very good.

Chances: (noun) Opportunities to score. Usually touted by players and coaches when they aren’t.

Check: (noun, verb) A defensive technique to disrupt an opponent with possession of the puck.

The Dominator was selected in the tenth round in 1983.

Coming up aces: (verb phrase) When a late-round draft pick blossoms into an elite player.

Cover: (verb) To win by more than the goal spread as determined by a betting service.

Craps: (noun) A bad pre-game meal that resurfaces throughout the game.

Deck: (verb) An action performed by a Hit Man.

Double down: (verb phrase) Occurs when a team is assessed a penalty when that team already has a man in the penalty box.

Draw: (noun) A faceoff.

Extra Blind: (noun) A referee on standby in case of injury to those calling the game.

Flop: (noun) Embellishing incidental contact or putting on an Oscar-like performance when there is no contact. Intent to draw a penalty. See Kadri, Nazem or Kesler, Ryan.

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Flush: (verb) The miserable thing minor league players claim won’t happen on their team bus.

Four of a kind: (noun) A team’s top four defensemen; see Predators’ Josi, Ekholm, Subban and Ellis.

Four straight: (noun) Winning four consecutive games.

Gap Hand: (noun) Mark Methot’s hand after getting sliced by Sidney Crosby.

Hit: (noun) A body check. Even when legally executed, it often causes an ensuing melee.

Hit Man: (noun) The player initiating the hit.

Hit Me: (interjection) Invitation to dance with an opposing player, as in throw haymakers.

Hit on 16: (verb phrase) A coach directing a player to body check Mitch Marner, Andrew Ladd, Jason Zucker or similar.

Hold: (verb) Grabbing a player.

Holding his cards close to his vest: (verb phrase) When a coach identifies any and all injuries by simply defining it as ‘upper’ or ‘lower’ body.

Hooking: (verb) Forging an improper relationship with an opposing player by introducing one’s stick where it doesn’t belong.

House always wins: (adjective, Imperative) Tendency for the home team to win. See Washington Capitals, Pittsburgh Penguins.

Insurance: (noun) Increasing a big lead by scoring another goal.

Mike Milbury Announcer
Former Islanders GM Mike Milbury (NBC Sports)

Joker: (noun) Often a veteran on the team who pranks others, usually rookies. May fill jockstrap with shaving cream. May fill gloves with toothpaste. (2) Joker: (noun) A goon hired to comment during a television broadcast. See Milbury, Mike.

Losing your shirt: (verb phrase) The best method to win a fight, now assessed a penalty. See Ray, Rob.

No limit: (adjective) The ability to transgress any and all regular-season rules. See Referees/Playoffs.

Not a chance: (adjective) Having a rounding error’s chance of playing for the Cup. See Arizona, Colorado.

Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene
Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene (Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports)

Pair: (noun) Having gumption to make a particular move.

Play his cards right: (verb phrase) Committing rules infractions while the zebras are not paying attention. See Marchand, Brad.

Quads: (noun) Muscles that cramp when dehydrated.

Rake: (noun) Hand action to the face of an opponent with a sweaty, stinky glove usually after a whistle, see Face-wash.

River: (noun) Tears cried by players after being bounced from the playoffs.

Second Pair: (noun) A team’s third- and fourth-best defensemen.

Side Pot: (noun) A player’s medicinal smoking material.

Slots: (noun) The areas directly ahead of the goaltender between the faceoff circles from which goals are frequently scored. Players may yell “cha-ching” after scoring but will be shunned for the rest of their hockey careers.

Smooth Call: (noun) The unusually rare time when a rookie speaks with the media without embarrassing himself.

Stay on 17: (verb phrase) A coaching demand to shadow a Wayne Simmonds of Philadelphia, Ryan Kesler of Anaheim or Brandon Dubinsky of Columbus.

Paul Stastny “Stays on 17”Philly’s Wayne Simmonds. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Suited: (verb) Usually suited up. Dressing to play in a game.

Take a hit: (verb phrase) The willingness of a player to get hit while attempting to make a play.

Take insurance: (verb phrase) Scoring an additional goal to put a game out of reach of a comeback.

Three of a kind: (noun) A line comprised of three incredibly talented players.

The French Connection was an offensively gifted line that played for the Buffalo Sabres.

Top pair: (noun) The best two defensemen on a team’s rotation of six blueliners.

Trap: (noun) A sleep-inducing defensive strategy that prevents the opposing team from proceeding with the puck through the neutral zone. See New Jersey Devils.

Trips: (verb) Illegal action to upend an opponent. Usually results in a two-minute penalty during which shame is felt.

Turn: (noun) A momentum-changing goal.

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas or (WHIVSIV): (imperative) The sentiments of any opposing team after getting beaten badly by the Golden Knights in Vegas.

Wheeler and dealer: (noun) Player making fancy offensive moves. See Dipsy-doodle, Dangle, Patrick Kane.

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Wild: (noun) A Minnesotan player, dontcha know. You betcha.


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