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How to fake your way through sports this weekend

By Matthew "Mo" Mochow, CNN
Matthew "Mo" Mochow explains how to gather some facts so you can talk sports when you need to.
Matthew "Mo" Mochow explains how to gather some facts so you can talk sports when you need to.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Take a glance at the sports page to see who's playing and what's at stake
  • Most conversations this weekend will revolve around basketball and hockey
  • There is a big difference between the regular season and the playoffs, Mo says
RELATED TOPICS
  • Sports
  • Basketball
  • Hockey

Editor's note: Matthew "Mo" Mochow is an assignment editor for CNN. His passion for sports and the social atmosphere keep him well-rounded on what's going on in the sports world. Check back for his columns to get your talking points for weekend sports conversations.

(CNN) -- I used to work in a dive bar in Orlando, Florida, that had live music. Most of the employees weren't sports fans.

Since nobody is "from" Orlando, we got customers in from all over the place, and whenever one would ask a sports question, it always got deflected to me.

My boss, who was not a sports fan at the time, started glancing at the sports page before he came to work just to have one "nugget" to drop in a conversation from behind the bar. He had the security of being on the other side of the bar and able to drop his "nugget" on a customer and then move along as though he had contributed to the conversation.

If you know you are going to be around a sports conversation over the weekend but don't feel comfortable joining in, here are a few pointers:

First of all, follow my former boss' example and glance at the sports page. I'm not telling you to check out the box scores and memorize stats. Just be aware of who's playing and what's at stake.

This is an exciting time of year for some sports fans because two of the four major pro sports, basketball and hockey, are in the playoffs. Other sports such as baseball, golf and NASCAR are in full swing. The World Cup (soccer) is starting in less than a month, as well as the Indianapolis 500.

For this weekend, though, most conversations will revolve around basketball and hockey. Hockey is still considered one of the four major sports, but it has lost a lot of its luster in recent years.

Hockey had a resurgence during the Winter Olympics because Team USA unexpectedly made it to the gold medal round. The NHL was hoping to ride that momentum into the second half of its season. Unfortunately, what made hockey so popular to the casual fan during the Olympics is the same thing that is killing the momentum in the playoffs.

The two most popular players in the NHL, Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals, have already been eliminated by a scrappy team that nobody expected to do anything, the Montreal Canadiens. The Canadiens have ridden a hot goalie through the first couple of rounds but have been challenged by the Philadelphia Flyers' goalie, journeyman Michael Leighton.

The Philadelphia goalie has been outstanding and the team is thriving in the "why not us" role as underdogs just like the Canadiens have been. On the other side of the bracket, the two top seeds, the San Jose Sharks and the Chicago Blackhawks, have lived up to their billing through the first couple of rounds. The Blackhawks have grabbed the first two games on the road and head home with a distinctive advantage over the Sharks.

The NBA's biggest star, LeBron James, and his Cleveland Cavaliers have already been eliminated in the playoffs as well, but the league (even though it won't admit it) is now hoping for a rematch from two years ago between the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers.

It's one of the biggest rivalries in the history of the NBA and the league might just get what it wants. The Celtics have grabbed a huge advantage, winning two games on the road against the Orlando Tragic. (I know they are called the Magic, but it hurts me as a fan to see them play so poorly in this round.) Now Boston heads home for two more.

On the West Coast, the Lakers have held serve at home, winning their first two. They travel to Phoenix to see if they can eliminate the Suns and return to the title game behind the play of perennial all-star Kobe Bryant.

So what can you take away from all this? Here's your first "nugget." There is a big difference between the regular season and the playoffs.

Some of the teams favored to win in both the NHL and NBA are at home watching the game like you and me. If they think they can get by on their accomplishments from the past, then they will continue to enjoy the view from the couch just like us.