For the rest of 2007, the NHL Closer will be written by the fine folks at Melt Your Face Off. Enjoy.
NHL players come from all over the world to play in front of packed houses and on less-than-packed television broadcasts only available on your local cable provider's obscure digital sports tiers. Because of this, we end up cheering for people who began their lives in countries far away from here, America. (Fuck yeah!) They grew up skating on ponds that froze over amidst entirely different cultures - cultures that gave their parents the right to give them girly, girly names. It's not the fans' fault that so many stars in our sport are chirpy Quebecois and effeminate-sounding Eastern Europeans. Not everyone can be named Jeff Beukeboom, Rob Ray, or Scott Stevens. So for today's NHL Closer, we salute those players who probably would have gotten beat up during 3rd-grade recess for something they had no control over. (And in the process, turning the comments into a Demetri Martin lovefest.)
Today's Marian Hymn will be Number 10. After the Rangers' Michal Rosival scored an early power-play goal, Marian Gaborik took it upon himself to net the equalizer before period's end. And just to make sure Rosival didn't get any crazy ideas about spoiling a game in America's new Hockeytown, dear Marian added four more goals en route to a 6-3 Wild win over the Blueshirts. This was the first 5-goal effort for anybody since Sergei Fedorov in 1996. No doubt a 14 year-old Gaborik was watching that game - on Slovakia's television.
So Which One of You Was on Remote Control? What do you mean, "what's Remote Control?" Here's a recipe for success as predictable as a Colin Quinn delivery: take a Southeast Division team, put a guy with a girl's name between the pipes, and ...profit. In his first NHL start, Karri Romo turned aside 31 shots as Tampa Bay defeated Toronto at home, 2-1. Vinny Lecavalier scored with 42 seconds left to put the Lightning ahead for good. Meanwhile, the Thrashers' Kari Lehtonen stopped 28 shots to help Atlanta beat Ottawa 3-2 at Phillips Arena. Lehtonen is returning to form after missing 16 games with a groin injury. Question: if a "groin injury" befalls a guy named Kari, does it still cause all men to instinctively cringe?
So that makes you...the Daughter of God? I will likely be on the business end of a smiting for this, but the name Sidney can go to either gender. Hockey Jesus had a productive first period, scoring once and helping on two others, en route to a 4-0 Pens lead over the Boston Bruins. The Bruins then suited up Kevin Garnett, Tom Brady, and Jonathan Papelbon, and came roaring back to tie it and sent this one to overtime. Boston's ringers were ejected once Papelbon's dog ate the puck, allowing Pittsburgh to seize the opportunity and win 5-4, courtesy of a shootout.