The NHL season is nearly three months old, with more than three months to go before the regular season ends and play-off spots are secured.
In other words, everything you think you know about Stanley Cup contenders and Stanley Cup pretenders may just be a December mirage. Yes, it will be June before a new champion is crowned.
What we do know is this: while each night’s results may be just a tiny piece in a six-month slog, there is a chance that something magical may happen at any instant.
Every few days, it seems, a display of individual brilliance leaves legions of fans shaking heads in disbelief, or grinning in amazement.
What did we just see? Show it again, slow motion, please!
Did Boston Bruins rookie Seth Griffith really get turned around by a New Jersey Devils defenceman, and flip the puck through his legs with his back to the net and into the goal?
We know that the St Louis Blues have a 22-year-old rising star in Vladimir Tarasenko because he is scoring goals at a rapid rate. But the best way for him to give fans a visual stamp is to take a pass at centre ice, accelerate around and through three New York Rangers, deke the goalie with a move to the left, but leave the puck in front of the goal mouth and reach back with the stick fully extended and tap the disc across the right side of the line.
A team may be bottom-feeding in the puny Eastern Conference, but that does not mean a Sabre named Tyler Ennis cannot leave Buffalo buzzing for days with a jaw-dropping move. From the blue line, Ennis races far to the right around two defenders, with no angle to shoot – unless he somehow can cut back sharply across the front of the net, leap over Montreal goalie Carey Price, recover the puck skating away to the left and fire a no-look, backhand wrister into the net.
Just when everyone declares that the “goal of the year”, Alex Ovechkin checks in with his own crazy entry. Last week, the Washington Capitals superstar gathered the puck at centre ice, encountered two Chicago Blackhawks at the blue line, split them by sweeping the puck between his legs, re-captured the puck by leaning so far over his skates that he had to dive, but still put it on his stick blade and flipped a backhand top-shelf as he laid out in a flying “Superman” pose.
Did we mention that the Hawks whom Ovy abused were all-stars Brent Seabrook and Jonathan Toews?
If the regular season sometimes runs in tedious slow motion, the players’ ability to showcase something stunningly unique on any given night is reason enough not to blink.
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