Please Like My Sport: Winter Classic jerseys, Tkachuk's insane goal and what to be excited about in the NHL
This week in hockey: Matthew Tkachuk scores big goals and takes big poops
Welcome to Please Like My Sport, the weekly column in which we find various things that can (and should) make you excited about hockey this week. Whether you're already a hockey enjoyer or someone who is looking for reasons to become one, the goal here is to deliver reasons for you to appreciate the NHL right now.
Here are some things to enjoy about hockey this week:
Matthew Tkachuk's incredible goal
This NHL season may still be young but it's had no shortage of amazing goals. But with all due respect to Sonny Milano's through-the-legs display and Andrei Svechnikov's , the best goal of the year (so far) undoubtedly came from Matthew Tkachuk.
It's quite possibly the best goal I've seen over the past several years and, honestly, I haven't really been able to stop thinking about it or fully comprehend how it even came to be. It's simply that good and preposterous.
It's not so much that Tkachuk goes through the legs -- we've seen plenty of players score that way over the years -- but it's more about the context of the situation, the degree of difficulty and the incredible execution. He only has a split-second to read and react to the situation and make a play on the fly, and it's rare to see guys attempt the trick shot at this rate of speed, or from this far out. It also rarely results in a shot with that much "oomph" hitting the top corner.
It happened so quickly that I'm pretty sure we all needed a few additional looks to even see what exactly how it played out. And for all of that to happen in overtime with less than two seconds remaining on the clock? Come on.
Capitals and Nationals celebrate together
It may have taken D.C. an excruciatingly long time to get back into the win column as far as championships go but the Capitals and Nationals have combined to win two in the last couple of years, and they both dominated their respective victory celebrations.
This week, the Caps hosted the Nats following their World Series win over the Astros and it turned into exactly the kind of joint championship party that you'd expect from these guys.
From before the game...
...to during the game...
...to after the game...
And while it might be juuuuuust a little weird to see the Caps singing "We Are The Champions" when they're almost 18 months removed from raising the Cup, we can let it slide since they set (and drank) the bar for the Nationals. The Caps walked so the Nats could run. Or they stumbled so the Nats could pass out, or something like that.
For D.C. sports fans, it had to be amazing to see the two squads join forces for a party like this one. But, for what it's worth, not everyone was particularly impressed with the Nationals' partying skills.
Considering, I suppose we shouldn't be surprised.
Coyotes are selling out (in the good way)
As much as certain media folk may want to reach to (wrongly) criticize the Coyotes for playing "low-event" hockey, the Yotes have started to put it together and are playing some pretty damn good hockey right now. And wouldn't you know it, the locals are showing up to support the team. It's crazy how that works.
The Coyotes have certainly had their issues in terms of attendance over the years, mostly due to arena issues and poor performance. But winning can certainly work to mitigate some of those issues and we're starting to see that with the Yotes this season. Through the first month of the season, Arizona actually has a higher attendance percentage than seven NHL teams (NJD, BUF, CBJ, CAR, FLA, NYI, OTT).
There's been so much instability around the Coyotes and so much talk of the franchise being relocated over the years, but we know that hockey can absolutely work in the desert if the product is good enough and the team is put in a position to succeed (hello, Golden Knights). The Coyotes seem like they might be poised to make a push in the Western Conference this year and I think it'd be a really great thing for a market and a franchise that needs that kind of boost. (The Florida Panthers are also in that conversation).
The Winter Classic jerseys
I know some people don't necessarily care about what teams wear on the ice, but I always get excited when a nice sweater enters the rotation. That's why I was thrilled to see the Winter Classic jerseys the Predators and Stars will be wearing on New Year's Day:
Fashion is subjective and I've seen a lot of people say they're not crazy about these looks but I think they're both pretty clean. At the very least, they're significantly better than what either team wears on a primary basis.
Jake Voracek's good sportsmanship
Remember that commercial where the young basketball player narcs on his own team by telling a referee that the ball actually touched him last before going out of bounds, thus giving the other team possession late in a close game? It may seem like a truly preposterous scenario but it actually became reality in the NHL this week.
Jake Voracek snitched on himself after he helped draw a phantom high-sticking call against the Devils. The penalty would have given the Flyers a power play late in a tie game, but Voracek let the officials know that Damon Severson's stick never actually touched him.
The true "Please Like My Sport" crowd will preach that this is what makes hockey players so great, that they have more integrity than other athletes and yada yada yada.
But now comes time for the fun debate: Would you rather have your player just shut up and take the man-advantage that brings a great opportunity for his team to win the game, or would you rather him prove that he's a pretty swell and honest guy? I'll hang up and listen. (The Flyers went on to win the game in a shootout but boy do I wish the Devils got the W just to see the takes that would have come from this).
Maple Leafs birthday wishes
Last week we touched on everyone being in agreement that the Maple Leafs kinda suck this year. And while they still haven't beaten any good teams on the ice through a month of the season, they didn't totally suck this week off the ice.
This young Leafs fan apparently had a disappointing 11th birthday party and his dad took to Twitter to help crowdsource some birthday wishes.
Several Maple Leafs stars.
And it wasn't just the stars who rose to the occasion. Scrubs also reached out.
Quote of the week: "Matthew was a big kid. He was s----ing like a man. They were man-sized turds from a 3-year-old kid."
That comes from Denver Wilson, son of longtime Coyotes equipment manager Stan Wilson, who babysat Matthew Tkachuk when he was a toddler.
The Beautiful Game highlight of the week
We have seen so many great highlights to come out of 3-on-3 overtime, but I don't think we've ever seen a 3-on-0 breakaway before. Thank you, Vancouver Canucks. This is so beautiful and pure.
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