Yet Another Reason To Loathe Starbucks And Ridicule Dumb Defensemen

The NHL Closer is written by Greg Wyshynski, of FanHouse and The Fourth Period. He is also the author of Glow Pucks And 10-Cent Beer.

Dion Phaneuf just had to have him some Venti Caramel Macchiato, so he ducked into a Starbucks in Calgary. And while I thought Michael Moore was having a laugh when he portrayed all Canadians as overly secure dupes who leave their houses unlocked, Phaneuf actually left his SUV running during his caffeine scamper — making it fairly easy for someone to boost his ride. No worries: Phaneuf's truck was found early yesterday morning after an apparent joyride, so he can get back to concentrating on using blowing up opponents with freight-train body checks and awful Steve Perry impersonations during Karaoke. Although it was for very different reasons, both he and new (old?) Avalanche defenseman Adam Foote received law enforcement escorts to their teams' game this week. But the way Colorado's playing these days, it's the rest of the League should be asking for police protection.

The Avalanche finished 3-1-1 on their five-game road trip, winning a skills competition against Vancouver last night, 3-2. Joe Sakic scored with 14.7 left in regulation to earn at least a charity point, and then he and Marek Svatos beat Roberto Luongo in the shootout. Oh, yeah: Forsberg's practicing, too. We can make all the "Where are Valeri Kamensky and Sylvain Lefebvre?/Getting the band back together" jokes we want, but this team should scare the living shit out of the Western Conference if it gets into the postseason. Sure, they're only one point from being out of the picture. Sure, their coach looks like Dennis Farina. And yeah, some of their key components are a little on the aged side — but if Jose Theodore keeps playing well and is willing to share his Propecia stash, then everyone's happy. In summary, I had no fucking clue Colorado's Scott Parker looked like this:

Yet Another Reason To Loathe Starbucks And Ridicule Dumb Defensemen

I Love It When A Plan Comes Together. Not every trade at the deadline needs a winner and a loser (or a loser and a loser, like Joe Motzko for Alexander Giroux). Sometimes everyone's a winner, just like in the Special Olympics. So consider the Buffalo/San Jose trade this week as the Special Olympics of the deadline. Steve Bernier and a No. 1 pick go to the Sabres; in his first game last night, Bernier scored two goals and stood up for his new teammates in an 8-4 win over Nashville as Buffalo fans marked out for him. Brian Campbell goes to San Jose, and earns a helper in the Sharks' 4-2 win in Columbus. Winner, winner, chicken dinner.

The Buffalo game was a nutty one, filled with rough stuff and some brawls. It also featured Ryan Miller stopping a penalty shot and later getting drilled in the mask by a puck, bloodying his nose and allowing Nashville to score an empty net goal. So, in honor of Ryan Miller: "Yo mama so fat, she sat on a dollar and made George Washington's nose bleed."

Toronto 4, Florida 3 (Skills Competition). The Leafs are now in full cock-tease mode, following their 5-0 win over Ottawa with a win last night against Florida, their third in a row. The Leafs are six points out of the last playoff spot, until their inevitable and heartbreaking collapse. Sundin now has four points since he decided to completely fuck his team out of a Hossa-esque windfall at the deadline. And no Wade Belak fight against his former teammates? Pussy.

Puck Headlines

• Ottawa fans seem really broken up about John Paddock being fired. "He was like an English Jacques Martin. Cross those arms and scowl the entire game and then give meaningless gargled quotes while choking up your Christmas turkey followed by the occasional burp." [Bulging the Twine]

• I really don't know what's hotter: A female hockey player slugging a linesman three times, or later claiming she doesn't remember smacking him. [The FanHouse]

• Finally, Hockey Nation tells the story of Darwin Head, who sounds like a Douglas Adams character but who is actually a sawmill worker in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan — one that was selected out of over 8.6 million entries to take his shot at $1 million last night in Vancouver. He needed 15 goals in 24 seconds from the far blue line. Take a gander: