Hockey Hugs is a feature that celebrates the best in hugging from around the NHL, because who doesn't love a good hug now and then? Seen a particularly good hug photo lately? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet @HarrisonMooney.
Pittsburgh Penguins hockey hug
And so we arrive at the first Hockey Hugs of the 2012 playoffs, and not a moment too soon.
Thus far, the playoffs have been about headshots, suspensions, stretchers, and rough, violent play. It's been a nasty couple of weeks. But hockey hugs is here to remind you that there's more to the postseason than just carnage and vitriol. There's also friendship. Hooray!
New Jersey Devils hockey hugCase in point, the line of Jordan Staal, Tyler Kennedy and Matt Cooke, who have been playing together in Pittsburgh for years, and they love each other. They complement each other well too, especially since all three do different things with their mouths after a goal. Cooke purses his lips, Kennedy opens them halfway, and Staal's mouth springs wide open.
I like the way Staal is using his stick as a barricade to keep Paul Martin out.
At the right, Patrik Elias leaps into Marek Zidlicky with a hug so forceful it causes the New Jersey D-man's knees to buckle.
How can you tell this game is in Florida? The presence of exceedingly tan senior citizens. Check out the old guy at the glass, looking on disapprovingly. He's all, "In my day, men were men. We didn't hug one another. We punched one another in the damn eye as a sign of respect. Something something the war..."
That old man would probably disapprove of everything after the jump, too.
No. 5, Boston Bruins
Brian Rolston reacts to a surprise appearance from Benoit Pouliot.
Boston Bruins hockey hug
"Oh my god, Benoit! What are you doing here?!"
"... We play on a line."
"I haven't seen you in forever!"
"... We've combined for three goals in this series."
"We should Skype sometime!"
No. 4, Nashville Predators
Sergei Kostitsyn finally wins the giant Martin Erat doll at the carnival.
Nashville Predators hockey hug, part 1 (AP)
My favorite thing about this photo is the way nobody in the stands is looking at them. Seriously, there's a leaping powerhug right next to you and you don't even look? Robots.
No. 3, Ottawa Senators
Ottawa Senators hockey hug (AP)
"Best plan ever!"
No. 2, Nashville Predators
Whenever Patrik Hornqvist is in a hug with somebody, he tries to get them to share his mouthguard. It's always super awkward.
Nashville Predators hockey hug (AP)"Quick Marty, nobody's looking! Take my mouthguard! It's a sign of friendship in Sweden!"
"Dude.... we looked it up. No it isn't."
No. 1, Chicago Blackhawks
But Patrick Sharp wins the week for this overeager attempt to leap into the middle of this love circle while someone actively works to keep him out.
Chicago Blackhawks hockey hug
Sharpy wants in! Sharpy wants in! Let Sharpy in!