Hockey neophytes, here's where you come to terms with the sport

Kings fans

The Kings take the ice before the start of Game 4 of the Western Conference finals against the Chicago Blackhawks at Staples Center last week. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times / May 26, 2014)

In person, hockey has always been the most exciting pro sport. On TV, it's finding a new audience, thanks to high-def big screens that allow viewers to actually see the puck.

NBC Sports reports that the first two rounds of the playoffs were the most watched in cable history, up almost 20% over last year.

But a Stanley Cup Final attracts an even bigger audience, drawing new fans puzzled by the odd jargon and terminology of a sport they're still learning.

Hockey games raise many questions for these newcomers, who are hesitant to ask their beered-up, know-it-all friends. For them, we offer Hockey 101, a master's level contemplation of a bruising and glorious sport.

Please silence your cellphones.

Question: What's the neutral zone?

The area in the middle, between the Blue Lines.

Q: What's the Blue Line?

Separates neutral zone from attacking zone. Also, the only way to get to Long Beach during rush hour.

Q: What's the Red Line?

Running through Hollywood, the Red Line is what you take if you're going to a play at the Pantages. In hockey, it's the 50-yard-line.

Q: Where's the three-point line?

The NHL has yet to adopt a three-point line. But there is a jail.

Q: Why's there a jail?

Also called a penalty box, the jail is where players go when they misbehave.

Q: Why do players misbehave?

Why do babies cry? Why do starlets drink?

Q: Why do hockey fans drink?

Among fans, beer is renowned for stimulating clear thinking and kind thoughts. What bananas are to monkeys, what absinthe is to France, beer is to hockey. In hockey, every game celebrates the end of Prohibition and major wars.

Q: What's this thing called icing?

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