The trouble with Hockey (and Soccer) for Americans is this: They reward continuous attention, rather than fragmented, intermittent attention. You can’t really appreciate a hockey game (or a soccer match) without really watching it, letting yourself fall into the ebb and flow of it, getting a feel for what’s trending, what’s happening behind the individual plays. (Basketball is also this way, but the constant scoring gives the illusion of more action than what’s actually there.)
Football and baseball, America’s two most popular sports, are not this way. You can isolate the One Cool Thing in those sports. The home run. The incredible touchdown pass. The clutch double. The key interception. You can rouse yourself from whatever else you were paying attention to, look at it in awe, and then go back to what you were doing.
Not so, in my opinion, with hockey (and soccer). The shot that scores the goal is rarely the Awesome Thing all by itself. It’s all the back and forth that led up to that shot that you weren’t paying attention to that made the Cool Thing happen. That’s why hockey (and soccer) are hard for Americans to love. And I implicate myself in this, most assuredly.