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.

Seeing Marian Hossa injure his knee during his first game with Pittsburgh might have sent Mario searching for his receipt from the Thrashers. Stopping just 10 of 13 shots, and watching Marc Andre-Fleury play well in relief, probably put ConkBlock's job as Penguin Messiah in jeopardy. But the only certain things in last night's 5-1 embarrassment in Boston: The Bruins are four points away from leading their division, and the guy they're calling the new Cam Neely laid a smackdown on Jarkko Ruutu that was both inspiring and symbolic. Video of the fight following the jump ...


But first, a little about this dude Milan Lucic. He's a 6-4, 220 rookie with 7 goals and 20 points this season. Before he had ever played a game for the B's, the Boston media had anointed him the second-coming of Cam following a performance in the junior championships in which he laid out more opponents than Jim Duggan in a Home Depot. Last night — playing with a broken nose, no less — he was at the end of his shift when Ruutu pested him with a crosscheck. And here's what happened next:

If you stuck with the fight through 2 minutes, you would have seen Lucic skate away and raise his arms to the crowd, Tie Domi-style...except Lucic has talent, leadership, potential and doesn't resemble one of Ram-Man's dingleberries. This fight, for me, captures the Bruins' season thus far: They've had injuries, they're underestimated, everyone's watching the Celtics instead and they're just generally pissed off about their lot in life — like the Harvey Pekar of hockey. And yet they're four away from Ottawa for the division lead, and three back of Montreal (with a game in hand) for the fifth seed. I like this team. And I love this Lucic; I watch a fight like that, and he's not Son of Sea Bass — he's a Puck Lion.


I $%#!ing Hate Being Wrong. In print, in radio interviews and in random conversations, I've been telling everyone that Brad Richards is a bad fit in Dallas because he needs a talented winger to activate his offensive game and the Stars don't have enough of them. I believe at one point I said: "If Brett Hull can drop 30 pounds and 10 years, then yeah, it's a good trade for Dallas." So they stick him with Niklas Hagman in last night's 7-4 win over the Blackhawks. Richards: Five assists. Hagman: Hat-trick. Wyshynski: "Fucking shit balls." I'm not willing to denounce or reject my opinion that Richards is a $7.8 million square peg in a round hole for Dallas. But that was a Tarantino/"Reservoir Dogs"-level debut.

And Ottawa Still Blows. The Gordie Howe Hat-Trick: a goal, an assist, and a fight. The Jason Spezza Hat-Trick: a goal, a stupid celebration, and a five-minute major for "butt-ending." Appropriate, I suppose, considering the Senators continue to play like ass. Even more bad news: The Flyers looked frighteningly like the Flyers again in the 3-1 win. Meanwhile, the Islanders win in OT in what Ted Nolan called a "classically bad hockey game" in Atlanta, Bryzgalov beats St. Louis more than Nelly and J-Kwon, and Kings fans believe calling up Dan Cloutier is a great way to increase their draft lottery chances.

Howlin' Pelle Almqvist Alert! The Hives already have puckhead cred for ripping the joint at the start of this year's All-Star Game. But as Eric McErlain on FanHouse reports, they're now hockey delusional: Challenging NHL teams like the Vancouver Canucks to impromptu games. The following photo appears to feature (from left to right) Howlin' Pete, Kenickie from "Grease," Murray from "Flight of the Conchords," Jeff Cowan of the Canucks (I think), a lesbian, a local television reporter doing a live remote about hockey safety, the sexiest twins in the NHL and a retarded kid who somehow slipped his harness. Enjoy this round of everyone's favorite game show: "Swede or No Swede?" [h/t Pitchfork]

Puck Headlines

• As some of you may know, I have a little history with hockey rumorista Dwayne "Eklund" Klessel. Hockey Nutz took one for the team and calculated how much of his bullshit came to pass at the trade deadline, and came up with a sterling 3.5-percent rate of accuracy. Among that other 96.5-percent of utter failure? Denying Pittsburgh was in the mix for Hossa. Oopsie. [HockeyNutz]

• Russia to the NHL: "How Are You Gentlemen? All Your Russian Stars Are Belong To Us! Ha Ha Ha Ha." NHL To Russia: "We gave you Yashin. And you still want more?!" [NY Times]

• If you serve a jersey-shaped cake during a hockey game, is it like symbolically eating your own body? [All Hockey All the Time]

• Breaking News from KBCI News 2 in Boise: "Caldwell floor hockey team wins Special Olympics gold." Yes, there's a photo. [Local News Bots]


• Mercilessly mocking hockey yearbook pictures. "Kyle McLaren would like to tell you a bit about Slayer." [The KB]

• Finally, I'm not usually a two YouTube guy, but this one rockets you into the weekend with snarky euphoria. Don't even bother with the first minute of this video, which features hand-written title cards in Klingon or some shit. Just get to the 1-minute mark, and witness what I think we all picture in our minds when we hear: "Jaromir Jagr fan in socks and neon orange sandals, dancing to Duran Duran."