Welcome back to our regular post about hockey highlights and/or lowlights from the past week. I hope all of you who observe are having a very enjoyable and peaceful festive season. While I’m sitting here, working through a gigantic box of celebrations (the Malteaser sweets are my favourite) and watching Avengers: Endgame (while getting mad about a lot of the narrative choices), I got to thinking about how I was sure there wouldn’t be much to write about, given the week that’s in it. Oh Reader, how wrong I was.
(Featured image from Anthony Beauvillier’s instagram)
1. First: the Worst.
As a Capitals fan, this was a particularly low point: on Christmas Eve, Alexander Ovechkin, and his wife Nastasiya, attended a party at Mar-A-Lago, meeting with Donald Trump, and presenting him with a Capitals jersey.
There’s very little I can say that hasn’t been said before, so I’m just going to make two points.
The first is that, no matter how much leeway we give Russian players about their political leanings, and how much (or little) choice they actually have when it comes to supporting their head of state, a choice was made here and it’s one that deeply disappoints me. Just as individual players had the choice to visit the White House after the Stanley Cup win (thank you, Braden Holtby and Brett Connolly), this is a decision that had maybe next to no thought attached to it, but it’s still very hurtful. (And if you need an explanation as to why this might be, I suspect you’re reading the wrong blog.)
My second point is this, and it’s one I struggle with immensely: we know that Alexander Ovechkin does so much good, in the community in DC, and at home in Russia. How he can possibly square that away with standing next to a man who has overseen, and is responsible for, demonstrable and verifiable damage to human beings, including innocent children, is beyond me.
2. Second: the Best.
To change the topic so swiftly that we all get whiplash, wasn’t the most entertaining moment when Anthony Beauvillier, of the New York Islanders, decided to shoot his shot?
Now, a fairly standard rule on the internet is: don’t read the comments. Not in this case, my friends. What followed was an incredible series of tweets about Beauvillier’s various great acts of heroism, from rescuing kittens to paying off so many student loans to donating more kidneys than any single human should have. Best of all, Anna Kendrick enjoyed it too.
Honestly, I ship it, even if it is a love against all odds.
3. Third: the Guys who need some Rest.
Those Maple Leafs, eh? Now, I’m someone with a fondness for the Leafs, but as I said to someone at the Global Series in Prague: I find it entertaining when they win, and I find it entertaining when they lose. Perhaps, this year, I’ve found it more stressful than usual, because my two favourite Leafs are, invariably, the subject of fan or media ire when the Leafs’ performance is subpar (William Nylander and Tyson Barrie, if you’re new here).
Now, aside from skating with Bieber and finally making that coaching change, the Leafs have had an interesting season, to say the least. They’ve been plagued by injury to key players. John Tavares blocked a shot with his hand in October and Mitch Marner had a high ankle sprain in November.
This week saw a very frightening injury happen to Ilya Mikheyev. In his first season in the NHL, he’s become a fan favourite and is a delight to watch on the ice. On Friday, he suffered a serious hand injury, in the game against the New Jersey Devils. According to the team, an artery and tendons were severed in his hand (courtesy of a skate blade). It’s genuinely incredible that these kinds of injuries, and worse, don’t happen more often, although December was a bad month, as we saw when Niagara Ice Dogs’ goalie, Tucker Tynan, suffered a horrific laceration injury to his leg.
To make matters worse for the Toronto Maple Leafs, defenceman, Jake Muzzin, has broken his foot and will be out for weeks. Given that he’s the most defence-minded of their defencemen, it does raise some interesting questions for how the Leafs are going to manage. They have some incredible defensive prospects in the Marlies, so maybe we’ll finally see Timothy Liljegren, or Rasmus Sandin, again. My prediction for 2020, though, is that Leafs games are going to continue to be goal bonanzas.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to all goalies involved.
On that note
Happy New Year to everyone. I hope that 2020 brings good things for all (even goalies, but especially to you, our readers).
(Also, for ever mad about Natasha Romanov’s end.)
(And don’t get me started on Steve Rogers’ arc.)