It’s likely that unless you’re a hockey fanatic or you play a lot of Fantasy Hockey online (two groups which could be considered to majorly overlap), the only currently active hockey players you know about are Alexander Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, and possibly a few more like Martin Brodeur, maybe Mike Green / Nicklas Backstrom / Alexander Semin (if you live in the Washington DC area).  The chances are high that you’ve never heard of Paul Stastny, Bobby Ryan, Zack Parise, Ryan Malone, Ryan Miller, Patrick Kane or David Backes.

I know who all of those guys are, and if you watched the first Team USA Men’s Ice Hockey game today, you likely heard their names.  Three of them scored goals (Ryan, Malone, Backes), and one of them held a shutout in goal (Ryan Miller) for the majority of the game.

Hockey has been changing up some of its rules to help increase the scoring chances, and with great young superstars in the NHL, there’s an increasing amount of interest in ice hockey in the past year.

If you’ve got interest in learning more about hockey and trying to familiarize yourself with people other than “Great 8” Alexander Ovechkin and Sid “The Kid” Crosby, Team USA is a great place to start.  At least with the first game, the announcers did a great job of not only explaining the rules (and how the international set of rules differ slightly from the NHL) and understanding the strategy behind some of the plays you’ll watch.

Another couple great reasons to watch Team USA / Olympic Hockey?  It’s almost like watching All Star games, and a lot of the rules that pertain to Olympic hockey are typically adopted by the NHL because the Olympic committee puts a ton of emphasis on high scoring games.  3-1 is likely to be the lowest scoring game you’ll see prior to early March.

Coming up on Sunday, Team USA will play Team Canada, so you’ll definitely want to watch that.