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As far as hockey is concerned, the next four weeks of the NHL season are crucial. Between now and April 11, all 30 teams will be checking, shooting, and skating their way to a coveted spot and prime position in the 2014/2015 Stanley Cup playoffs. Whether you’re a playoff bandwagon jumper like me, a die-hard fan all season long, or just like an excuse to play the role of host, this means one thing—its time to start planning those playoff hockey parties! Like any good party, you’ll need a few key elements to make yours the best of the season: a fantastic TV, a media streaming device, an assortment of dishes, and of course, all the team spirit you can muster.

#1 – Playoff worthy TV

It goes without saying that the highlight of any hockey playoff party is the game, so you’ll want to make sure your TV can deliver great playoff action, and for that, a 4K TV is the ideal choice. 4K, or Ultra HD, delivers ridiculously high resolution that is four times that of a Full HD TV. Four times! In fact, a 4K TV screen has over eight million pixels at 3840 x 2160 versus 1920 x 1080 on your standard HD. As you can imagine, that translates into an incredibly clear and realistic picture that will make you feel as though you are actually at the game.

Samsung2.pngSamsung has a line of 4K Ultra HD LED Smart TVs ranging in size from 40” all the way up to a whopping 75”. Obviously, the size you choose will be dictated by the size of room in which your TV will live, but when it comes to sporting events, I’m a big advocate of the “bigger is better” theory. Let’s take a peek at the Samsung 65” 4K Ultra HD 120Hz LED Smart TV. Its curved screen design widens its viewing angle to provide an optimal viewing experience from every seat in the house. That means that even if your party guests are stuck on the floor, they will still see all the game’s action. It also features Samsung’s Motion Rate 120, which improves fast-action moving picture rates, making it ideally suited for what we can only hope will be some fast-action playoff games. Lastly, it comes equipped with Samsung’s Smart TV technology, so you can easily swap between the game and other content, like your favourite tunes, during breaks in play.

#2 – Streaming Device for Multi Device Game Action

Streaming devices like Apple TV and Roku have quickly become home theatre staples, but did you know that their functionality goes beyond streaming music, movies and TV shows? With the NHL® app and a subscription to NHL GameCentre Live, you can watch live games on your smartphone, tablet, computer, and TV. And seeing as though any hockey fan knows that during the playoffs there are often multiple games on simultaneously, this app gives you the opportunity to watch several games across various devices all at the same time. Think about how great that would be – you can have your main attraction game playing on your big screen, and then have another game on your iPad. Or perhaps you just want to use the app to replay certain plays after the game. Aside from the games themselves, the NHL® app also includes content like highlights, interviews, other clips, and the latest news from around the league, so to say that you’d be dialed in is an understatement!

The NHL® app is available on Apple TV, Android and iOS smartphones and tablets, Playstation, Xbox and Roku devices.

#3 – Delectable Treats  

No playoff party is complete without a decent spread of calorie-rich snacks – preferably snacks that are easy to eat and don’t require cutlery. Here are a few easy to make and very easy to eat snacks that are sure to please even the pickiest of palates.

 Parmesan Mustard Chicken Wings

 (recipe from Canadian Living)

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Ingredients:

2-1/2 pounds chicken wings (about 17)
¼ cup Dijon mustard
2 tbsp. lemon juice
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
¼ tsp. salt
½ cup dry bread crumbs
¼ cup grated Parmesan or romano cheese
2 tbsp. minced fresh parsley

 

Directions

Cut off chicken wing tips at joint. Separate wings at remaining joint; trim excess skin. Place in large bowl. Add Dijon mustard, lemon juice, cayenne pepper and salt to bowl; toss to coat wings well. In shallow dish, combine bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese and parsley; press wings into mixture to coat all over. Arrange on rack on foil-lined rimmed backing sheet. Roast in 400° oven, turning once until crisp and juices run clear when wings are pierced – about 40 minutes.

Grape Jelly and Chili Sauce Meatballs

(Recipe from Food.com

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Ingredients:

3 – 5 pounds of frozen cooked small meatballs
1 (32 ounce) jar grape jelly
2 (12 ounce) jars chili sauce
1 pinch cayenne pepper

 

 

Directions

In a pot combine the grape jelly with the chili sauce; add in the meatballs and simmer for about 45 minutes uncovered or until the sauce has thickened. These are so good!

Spinach Artichoke Crock Pot Dip

(recipe from vegetarianslowcooker.com)

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Ingredients:

1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
14 oz can artichoke hearts, drained, chopped coarse
10 oz package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, squeezed of all liquid
½ red bell pepper, seeded, cored, diced
¼ cup shredded mozzarella cheese

 

 

Directions

Spray crock pot with no stick spray. Place first five ingredients in and mix well. Top with mozzarella cheese and cook on low until warm and the top cheese is melted (11 hours). Or cook on high for between 4 and 2 hours. Serve warm on sourdough bread or crostini.

#4 – Serving Platters

Of course, for all these deliciously delectable snacks, you’ll need to ensure you have an ample supply of dishes and napkins, and some serving platters like this 14” white one from Tannex. I’m a big fan of square and rectangular serving dishes; there’s something about them that makes everything from pigs in a blanket to cheese and crackers look elegant.

You can also use a warmer like this one from Tannex to keep items like your grape jelly meatballs nice and toasty warm through the duration of the game.

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While you and your fellow hockey fans will no doubt have enough team spirit to go around, a few themed decorations can go a long way to adding a little more pep to your party. Like these Sunbeam NHL heated fleece throws emblazoned with your favourite team’s logo. Plus, these blankets feature three heat settings, so no matter the weather, you and your guests are sure to stay cozy and warm.

To add even more fun to the day, what about a mini hockey set again featuring the logo of your favourite NHL team? It comes with a net, two mini hockey sticks, and one foam ball. I’m thinking on of these in your living room would equal hours of fun! You might just want to put it away after a few beers have been consumed.

Playoff hockey is a great time to get your people together for some low-key fun. Just make sure you’ve got the essentials under control, send out an evite, crack open a beer, and watch your team (hopefully) battle their way to a much deserved victory and their turn to raise the Stanley Cup.