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.


Comcast offered Capitals fans the next evolution of hockey on television last night: The Ovech-Kam, a split screen broadcast of Washington's 3-2 win over Calgary (and Olie Kolzig's 300th) that featured the game on one side of the screen and a camera following Alexander Ovechkin's every move on the other side. Watching this experiment, you were able to focus on the frequently overlooked details of Ovechkin's game: From defensive positioning to how he celebrates a goal. But since the cameras didn't stop rolling when he went to the bench, we were also treated to a definitive tutorial on one of hockey's greatest traditions: The Snot Rocket, and how Alexander Ovechkin launches it.

First, a word about the Ovech-Kam: It was cool. I actually moved my seat in the press box over a few in order to watch the Comcast feed as I was watching the game. Sometimes it felt like a Paul Thomas Anderson 1970s film homage: The images in the boxes would compliment each other's narrative, like when the Ovech-Kam showed Alex celebrating his game-winning goal while the other box cut between screaming fans and the slow-motion replay of the goal. What I wasn't expecting was for the camera to stay on him while he sat on the pine, and that was a kick: Seeing Ovechkin catching his breath with an unblinking stare at the opposing goalie. Or seeing him screaming at his teammates; half the words are "Come on, boys," and the other half appear to be obscenities or Russian words or Russian obscenities or gibberish or lines from the movie "300" in the original broken English.

Or seeing him blow a Snot Rocket, which happened...oh, I'd say about 500 times per period. And thanks to Comcast's close-ups, here's how one of the biggest stars in the NHL does it (please take notes, kids): He takes his left thumb and places it under his left nostril, redirecting the flow of air to the right nostril, from which he launches a mucus missile like a Viper leaving Galactica. I'm sure this is a time-honored technique, perhaps born from Viktor Tikhonov's famous Snot Rocket drills with the Central Red Army team. And hey, it's effective: Teammates freely celebrate with AO without fear of leakage:


Skrastins That Itch. Confession time: I'm the asshole who screams "shooooooot!" when my team is passing the puck around on the power play. So to hear that Karlis Skrastins scored the game-winner in Florida's 4-2 victory over the Islanders because a teammate told him to shoot the puck instead of dumping it to the corner warms my heart. OK, not as much as seeing the Islanders finally descend into mediocrity and the seeds of Ted Nolan's next contentious departure from an NHL team being sown...

Operation: Cock Tease Update. Pavel Kubina scored his second straight game-winning goal for Toronto, and this time the Leafs beat the Flyers in regulation, 3-2, to move within five points of eighth-seeded Philly. And they did it without Mats Sundin, who went out in the first period with a strained groin muscle, which is exactly what Leafs fans will have once Toronto stops jerking them around with this playoff push nonsense. The latest delusion of grandeur: The chance for a Montreal/Toronto first-round match-up in the Wales Conference, a series that Rumor Me This believes will force Gary Bettman into admitting that this year's playoffs will get better TV ratings than last year's because the Leafs are in them. "He would be correct, but it would be because of two Canadian teams which Gary seems to dislike, too bad Bettman, admit it, if there were no Canadian teams, there would be no hockey!" Good Christ...incidentally, NASCAR star Kevin Harvick attended his first NHL game in Philly last night. "I'm probably the most uneducated hockey guy in the building," he told the AP. That's strange ... the box score said Derian Hatcher played 21 minutes last night.

Commit To the Unhelpfulness. Meanwhile, both the Panthers and the Capitals received no help from the Blackhawks, who gave up three goals to Carolina (Cole-Cullen-Staal) in a four-minute stretch in the first period to lose 3-0. Not exactly fun times in the Windy City this week: Looking at the standings, they're going down faster than a call girl on Client No. 9, and Martin Havlat's having season-ending shoulder surgery. But does any of that matter when the Blackhawks Ice Crew is running away with Puck That Hit's "Who Has the Hottest Ice Girls?" contest with 32 percent of the vote? Five-year veteran Ice Girl Jennie is especially good at "skating, Photoshop, reading celebrity gossip magazines, and finding out secrets."


Meanwhile, the Penguins were missing Sidney Crosby, the Sabres were missing, like, all of their defensemen, and Pittsburgh won, 7-3. Speaking of Sid the Kid: How nutty is it that the Penguins' power-play was remarkably better without him (26.8%) than with him (17.7%)? Meanwhile, the Canucks lost to Anaheim and some goalie named Jonas Hiller, who I believe is the Jonas Brother that directed "Love Story." My boys at the KB want their Canucks PPV money back.

Puck Headlines

* Here's something that will quickly become indispensable for you: Yahoo! Sports has a page that updates every morning with new playoff seedings based on last night's games. Flyers and Penguins in Round One? Yes please. [Yahoo!]


* Inviting Bob Probert to have a cameo in your hockey movie and then giving him a uniform with Tie Domi's number might be one of the funniest things Mike Myers has ever done. Well, at least since "Germany's Most Disturbing Home Videos" on "Sprockets." "Pet him! Love him! Liebe meine abschmenkee!" [Sun Media]

* One more "The Love Guru" point of interest: Stephen Colbert plays a hockey announcer in the movie. Now, if we can only get Ed Helms and Rob Corddry to do the studio show between periods and Samantha Bee into an Ice Girl outfit... [The No-Fact Zone]

* Denis Leary turns his back on hockey, provides voiceover for "MLB 2K8" video game commercial. Somewhere, Cam Neely weeps. For the record, I consider "The Ref" to be a modern Christmas classic. [Diamond Hoggers]


* Mark MYFO's words: In about five years, we will all refer to the Penguins' big move at the deadline as the "Pascal Dupuis Trade." Or, at the very least, "The Ape-Man Who Conquered Pittsburgh Trade." [MYFO]

* And finally, an old man gets overly curmudgeonly at a hockey game, calling everyone a "gutless piece of crap!" before flipping the world the double-bird and awkwardly leaving the stands with his wife of 50 years. And amazingly enough, it isn't my father...