Serious Internet Hockey Journalism Starts NOW

The NHL Closer is written by the five hardcore streetfighters at Melt Your Face Off. Their favorite pastimes include kicking ass and chewing bubblegum. And they're all out of bubblegum.

Buzz Bissinger was right. We are full of shit. All of us. We are rude and crude, mean and cruel. From now on, this little hockey corner of Deadspin will no longer be your home of cocknocker references and busty puck bunnies. Serious Hockey Journalism Only. I was nominated by my compatriots to take on this task because I possess a Journalism Degree (from an accredited university!), with the requisite Professional Training and Responsible Judgment that come with being part of such an elite fraternity. So get ready to eat your sports vegetables, kids.

Montreal's young netminder, Carey Price, rattled from being pulled from Game 3 by Guy Carbonneau, rode the pine in favor of another rookie, young Czech Jaroslav Halak. Meanwhile, hundreds of miles away, the Dallas Stars prepared to continue their improbable Stanley Cup run by knocking off the favored Sharks.

Ah, fuck that noise.

Serious Internet Hockey Journalism Starts NOWS

Now that's the kind of journalism I can get behind. Repeatedly. And responsibly, of course. Mustn't forget that.

I'm from Canada. They think I'm slow, eh? As a matter of NHL Closer research, I watched Game 4 between Montreal and Philadelphia in a crowded bar in downtown Toronto, hopeful to see if an entire nation of hockey fans would rally behind their lone team left in the playoffs. Sure, I'm in Habs' enemy territory, but it's a matter of fact that the Maple Leafs last played hockey like four months ago, and why root for America when you can root for Canada?

Turns out, Toronto doesn't give a damn about Montreal, and neither does Danny Briere.

With Jaroslav Halak (all of 4 starts this year) as Guy Carbonneau's Game 4 starter, Carey Price might as well have been the name of the smokin' waitress we had last night. And while this was the talk of the bar (ok, the TSN analysts on TV at the bar) for the hour preceding the face-off, Halak didn't win or lose this game for Montreal (22 saves).

Leading 1-0, the Flyers' Vaclav Prospal (Vinny to his friends), ripped a shot off the pipes. Now when a team already losing hears such a distinct sound of vulcanized rubber on metal, it can give them hope. Hope that there's still a chance to get back in the game. That is, if Scott Hartnell doesn't put the wide-open rebound in the back of the net.

Still, since teams from Canuckistan just don't die, the Habs played the déjà vu card as the same exact duo from Game 3, Plekanec and Koivu, scored 37 seconds apart to tie it up. Fortunately for Philly, Danny Briere capitalized on a power play that put an outshot and outplayed Flyers team on top once again. They're truly charmed this series, and I haven't the faintest idea why. An empty netter by R.J. Umberger sealed the 4-2 win. And sounds delicious after a night of Closer drinking.

It's Yuengling 3, Molson 1, with Game 5 back on tap this Saturday in Canada — Hextall454

Drop that Dookie and You're Done!: The San Jose Sphincters didn't follow Hedy Lamarr's advice. Instead, they tightened up and saved their season from heading down the crapper for one night, defeating the Stars 2-1.

The Sharks opened the game with some sense of their predicament. They forechecked, dug for pucks, and showed the viewing audience that their players have some talent. Dallas weathered the early adrenaline rush, and the first period ended with no score.

San Jose's early effort appeared to go for naught in the second period. Devin Setoguchi committed a horrible turnover when he whiffed on a clearing attempt through the center of the zone. Jere Lehtinen wristed the slow-moving puck past Evgeni Nabokov. A few minutes later on a Dallas power play, Patrick Marleau appeared for his five seconds of shorthanded glory. He picked off a cross-ice pass at the San Jose blue line, then scored low-blocker side on Turco. Then, Marleau flew on a jet to San Jose, hoping that his teammates would win the game so that he may steal their glory in Game 5.

The third period was the downfall for the Sphincters in the first three games of the series. They squandered leads in Game 2 and Game 3, playing as though they did not care. Joe Thornton, perhaps shamed after Stephane Robidas bumped him off a second period puck, took command on an early power play. Jumbo Joe shielded defenders in the face-off circle to the left of Turco, then made an easy pass to Milan Michalek, who tapped the puck past the Dallas keeper. Nabokov only had to make five saves in the final period, and the series is headed back to San Jose. —Raskolnikov

Puckdumps

Martin Biron is still not over the Nordiques' move to Colorado. [ Flyer Flies]

Resurrecting the "Canadian Conspiracy" Theory (Failing Miserably Since 1994!). [ James Mirtle]

Avs fans are keeping their chins up. Or not. [ Mile High Hockey]