Welcome to the penultimate Hockey Hugs of the regular season. What a year it's been, both for fans of the NHL, and for fans of NHL players hugging. Yessir, hug aficionados have been spoiled.
And so you shall be once again today.
With the schedule winding down, you'd think the players would be beginning to wear the 2011-12 season's trials and tribulations on their faces, but that's not what I'm seeing in the hockey hugs of the past two weeks. Rather, I'm seeing the same sense of exuberant camaraderie I always see, playoff positioning be damned.
For instance, the San Jose Sharks have struggled of late, but I see no disgruntlement or infighting on their faces.
I mean, look at the photo above, at how stoked they are to invite Justin Braun into this hug. It's like they haven't seen him in months. Jason Demers is like, "JUSTIIIIIIIIIIIIIIN! You beast! Where you been, man! Get the heck in here!"
And heck, the Carolina Hurricanes have been out of it for quite some time now, but that certainly isn't deterring Eric Staal and Chad LaRose from this leaping into one another's arms like they just came from separate ends of a meadow. Heck, the only person who looks uninterested in this superhug along the boards is the blonde girl to the right.
Cheer up, blonde girl to the right. There are plenty more hockey hugs after the jump. Maybe one of them will tickle your fancy.
No. 5, Tampa Bay Lighting
J.T. Wyman hugs Tim Wallace so hard the Lightning winger's arms and tongue explode outward. He's like one of those bulgy stress dolls.
"Whoo! *wheeze* Too hard, bro."
No. 4, University of Minnesota Golden Gophers
And now we turn to NCAA women's hockey, where Minnesota's Amanda Kessel (Phil's sister) goes completely limp during a hug with co-captain Jen Schoullis.
"Way to cut through the defense and -- oof."
"Sorry, I go limp any time I hear that word. Runs in the family."
No. 3, Washington Capitals
Alex Ovechkin tries to wring a smile out of mopey ol' Troy Brouwer.
"Tickle tickle, Troy. Let's see that smile."
"Come on, little buddy. Don't be a grumpypants. We can get fro-yo..."
No. 2, Philadelphia Flyers
Jakub Voracek decides to tell Danny Briere how much he values his friendship while the Philadelphia crowd screams at them to get back in the play.
"Best friends forever!"
"Don't get too attached to me, Jakub. One of us could be traded any day."
"Nonsense. Paul Holmgren would never break up a best friendship this true."
No. 1, Buffalo Sabres
I love the "Big guy, little guy" hugs, so this Derek Roy/Tyler Myers hug was a surefire winner the moment I saw it. Roy looks like a toddler that's fallen asleep in his father's arms after staying up past his bedtime to watch the fireworks.
"He's had a long day. I'll just carry him to the car."