When Your Fans Blow ... Up Their Cups

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.

It's really no surprise that the defending Stanley Cup champions were a model of sloppiness, perplexity and irritability in last night's 4-0 loss to Dallas. Complacency breeds despair: Ducks fans are bringing inflatable, prefab Cup replicas to the rink that cost $40 and a few seconds of lung power. Montreal fans are meticulously creating aluminum foil Stanley Cups and then wearing them on their heads. Who do you think wants it more?

While regular season dominance by the Canadiens and Rangers over their respective first-round foes has been well-documented, the Stars were a solid 5-out-of-8 against the Ducks before meeting them in Game 1. Anaheim played some awful hockey last night, giving up all four goals on the power play, so maybe there's something to the fact that this is just a bad match-up for the Ducks. By the way: Former playoff choke artist Marty Turco has now allowed only 11 goals in his last eight playoff games. Giggy, on the other hand, let in some softies last night. Might be time to reach for those bigger pads ...the ones the size of a Chevy Suburban clearly aren't getting it done.

Flame Off. "The Sharks didn't nab a victory Thursday night. They Nabbied a victory. They Nabbied themselves back on track. Heavens to Kamenogorsk, did Evgeni Nabokov save the Sharks' tail fins in their 2-0 win over the Calgary Flames." If anyone has a contact within the Pulitzer voting panel, please alert them to this masterpiece from the San Jose Mercury News. Nabokov was actually quite brilliant last night, during one of those performances where you're fairly certain that Calgary could have fired 100 pucks from a Civil War cannon and none of them would have found the back of the net. "He saved our bacon tonight," said Coach Ron Wilson, before receiving a text message from Ken Hitchcock that read, "Where, exactly, are you keeping all of this saved bacon, Ronnie?"

Calgary goes home with a split, but honestly there's only one way they're winning this series: Total team commitment. And by that, I mean that if the rest of the Flames are willing to go under the clippers for a Mohawk, so does Mike Keenan. Although maybe he's a little sensitive about his horns showing.

The Sharks had plenty to celebrate last night. Kyle McLaren is just happy there wasn't a secret handshake involved:

When Your Fans Blow ... Up Their Cups

Anyone Who Uses 'The Price Is Right' in a Montreal Headline This Postseason Deserves a Beating. The Price is Right for Montreal! Honestly, Carey Roy Dryden stopped 17 of 18 shots but the story here will be the story for most of the postseason for the rookie goalie: He didn't suck, he didn't implode, he didn't piss away a goal by watching it trickle across his crease like a certain rotund New Jersey net-minder did. And competency is all that's expected, because Montreal is so damn good in front of him. The Flying Kostitsyn Bros. scored within the first 122 seconds of the game, but after Boston cut into the lead and started bogging down the Canadiens' attack, the grunts on the roster came through: Your Bryan Smolinskis and Tom Kostopouloses of the world, helping the Habs to the 4-1 win.

Bottom line for Boston is that they're got one last chance at making this a series, and it's in Game 2. Going back to Boston on a 13-game losing streak to Montreal? Just fold your hand, walk away from the table and sit at the nickel slots for a while to see if you can at least squeeze one more watered-down scotch for your troubles. The B's are going to have to put a little scare into the Habs, because they sure-as-shit didn't last night. From the great Kevin Paul Dupont of The Boston Globe: "There are beatings, and then there are total, all-out William Bendix what-a-revoltin'-development-this-is BEATINGS, such as the one the Bruins suffered inside Bell Centre."

By the way, the mayor of Montreal is a giant douche. Certainly hope his cat doesn't get stuck in a tree anytime soon.

Everything's Better With Zetter. Nashville's plan for Detroit last night was a little holding, some stellar goaltending, some more holding, hoping that Dumont or Arnott hit the score sheet, and then just a dash of holding, for flavor. Wings win, 3-1, as Henrik Zetterberg scores in the third with a wicked slap-shot and adds the empty netter. And now, for your viewing pleasure, the Royal Red Wings Shakespeare Company presents a short play featuring Zetterberg and Chris Pronger. I believe this was part of some contest to win a suite at a game. It's quite disturbing:

Puck Headlines

* Silent Bob makes his blogging debut for NHL.com. "@%" replaces every View Askew-approved expletive. His toilet has a Rangers logo in it, because they are the ones who are the ball-lickers. [NHL.com]

* A columnist named Don Brennan in Ottawa has been causing a stir by calling for Sidney Christ's ankle to be hacked by the Senators. Well, he found himself face-to-face with Big Georges Laraque...who challenged him to a cage match. [Globe and Mail]

* Danny Briere and Alexander Ovechkin have had a nice little rivalry over the years. Keep that in mind as the Ovie Postseason Era begins tonight in D.C. [Philly Inquirer]

* The Panthers haven't made the playoffs "since we thought $4 a gallon gas was a Taco Bell value meal," and thankfully Jacques Martin will no longer be the head rat on the Florida bench. [Mimai Herald]

* And Gary Bettman doesn't know his Ace from his elbow. [Going Five Hole]

On the Day I Went Away/Goodbye/Was All I Had to Say. Thus ends the Wyshynski run on the NHL Closer. I know, just as we're starting to really have some fun. It's been a glorious few months, and I can't begin to tell you how proud I am to have contributed to the growing audience and impact of this silly little hockey column. But other opportunities have come my way, and though it's not my desire to do so, I must hand the mic over. Thank you to Will; I won't be a stranger, and hope to continue to spread my particular brand of whimsy as a D'spin commenter and occasional contributor. And thank you to the readers and puckheads that have made getting up at 6 a.m. to bang out this nonsense worth it — the moment I saw a comedy pyramid built out of a "You Can't Do That on Television" locker routine was the moment I believed in magic. I'm always just a message to jestersquart@hotmail.com away. Thanks again for reading, and I'll see you next Thursday. Whoopee!...wait, no...Yippee!...hmmm, not quite...ah, yes: Yahoo!