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.

"Hello, is this the Detroit Red Wings?" "Yes, can we help you?" "Good news, actually: We've finally located your balls." "Well slap my rump and call me Sally — that is great news! They disappeared two weeks ago and we had no idea how to find them." "Yeah, turns out they were in Denver the entire time." "Denver...boy howdy, it's always the last place you'd think to look, huh?" "Well, the good news is that we can return your balls to you tonight during a 4-0 humbling of the Avalanche, so you can get back to kicking the rest of the League's collective ass...well, at least outside of your division." "Cool, what'll it cost us?" "Oh, not much: Just the health of your team captain, potential MVP and the best defenseman on the planet." "Okaley dokaley ...WAIT, WHAT THE SHIT?!"


The Red Wings got their mojo back last night against the Avs: Crashing the net, playing aggressive hockey and passing the puck to each other with the classic beauty of a Lindsay Lohan photo shoot for New York magazine. They were surly little bastards, too: Part of that comes from a six-game losing streak, their longest since the Herbert Walker Bush administration; part of that comes from playing Colorado, as I always figured the Wings would picture the Avs as 18 Claude Lemieuxs, much like a castaway would picture his friend as roast turkey in a Tex Avery cartoon.

But the real emotion came when Ian Laperriere took hockey deity Nicklas Lidstrom awkwardly to the boards and subsequently out of the game with a knee injury. Uh-oh: Somebody set up us the wake-up bomb. Detroit won nearly every facet of the game from that point on, as Jose Theodore kept this one from being 20-0, Aaron Downey attempted to exact revenge twice on Laperriere in a fight, and Wings coach Mike Babcock looked ready to turn Colorado coach Tony Granato into Cammi as he screamed through the glass at the benches.

I thought the hit was legal and fairly clean when it came to the injury to Lidstrom, who will be re-examined today and could miss a week to 10 days. But the Wings initially believed it was a blow to the head and that Laperriere's elbow came up, which got them all hot and bothered. Hey, whatever gets you out of bed in the morning — I'm just happy the best team in hockey reclaimed its testicular fortitude, if not its health, for one game.


Bong Island. And the award for the most bat-shit crazy game of the day goes to the Sharks and Islanders. Coach Ted Nolan missed the first period while consoling his son, whose junior hockey teammate Mickey Renaud collapsed and died yesterday. Evgeni Nabokov, a goalie that's basically been Brodeur West for his durability, took a 58-foot slap shot that dented the middle of his maskand needed half-dozen stitches to close a gash on his nose. He returned to the game, only to help his team blow a 2-0 lead and end up losing 3-2 to the Islanders. Perhaps the even more bat-shittier and crazier part is that the expansion Islanders are somehow one point out of a playoff spot on Feb. 19. (Yet why do I get the feeling that GM/Emergency Goaltender Garth Snow isn't about to make another Ryan Smyth trade this deadline?)

But the absolute bat-shittiest and craziest thing that happened in yesterday's game on Long Island? Mascot bukkake:

And Speaking of the Trade Deadline. Look, I don't wanna get off on a rant here, babe, but the days leading up to the trade deadline are the most joyous occasion for a hockey fan that doesn't involve a giant silver chalice or the Maple Leafs getting eliminated. Outside of baseball, it's the only hot stove that still burns. I thought the salary cap was going to kill the fun, but I was wrong: No Trade Clauses and Injuries are killing the fun.

Practically everyone sponge-worthy on the Leafs has a NTC, including Tomas Kaberle, who ended rumors of his impending trade before they even had a chance to get out of hand yesterday. Patrick Marleau of the Sharks has a bum groin leading up to next week's deadline, where he could be on the move if the team's struggling. Rob Blake of the Kings has both a NTC and an injury, and wants to stay in L.A.

But the big news yesterday was the end of the Peter Forsberg cock tease, as Floppa decided his bum foot wasn't strong enough yet for a return to the NHL. Too bad...I was really looking forward to Forsberg raising the hopes of an entire fan base before crushing them when they realize he's a porcelain, past-his-prime pariah who dives as often as James Cameron while making an IMAX film.

Puck Headlines

* Brian Burke assembles the biggest collection of thugs this side of Broad Street and is now lobbying for a reduction to one-minute penalties in regular season overtime. How this cat isn't in Congress, I have no idea. [Edmonton Sun]


* I still can't decide if Mike Comrie is prettier than Hilary Duff. But I'm sure she's better defensively. [Pop Sugar]

* If Jay Feaster can find a team willing to take on $7.8 million a year of Brad Richards for the next three years, they should give him the highest honor they can bestow in Tampa Bay: An autographed Mike Alstott jersey and a Hooters coupon book. [Globe & Mail]

* The MYFO boys script what the NBC intermission report should really sound like. With monkeys. You're hired! [MYFO]


* "Who Wants To Date Sean Avery?" and other NHL reality shows we'd like to see. [The FanHouse]

* And finally, there's only one way to celebrate my New Jersey Devils tying Ottawa for first place in the Eastern Conference after yesterday's win against Carolina. And that's by supporting the team: