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.
Welcome once again to Hockey Hugs, the feature that celebrates hockey's extra-special moment when two dudes bring it in.
February is when the hugs get realer, and not just because Valentine's Day puts everyone in the mood for some action. It's because we're in the home stretch of the season now. It's a great time for hockey hug aficionados because, as the games increase in immediate meaning, so too do the goals, and thereby, the grabby jubilation thereafter.
Even for non-playoff teams, the hugs get better. As clubs try to salvage some dignity from disappointing seasons, they retreat to classic hug-improving motivational tropes like playing for pride and for one another.
For instance, check out the Buffalo Sabres above. Sure, Vanek and Ennis can't help but frowning after the season they've had, but at least they still have friendship.
Friendship is what keeps Matt Moulson going too. As an aside, that's, like, the fourth time I've turned up a photo of the Islanders' forward hugging from behind. He's so stealth. He's like the ninja of cuddles.
More hockey hugs after the jump.
No. 5, Boston College Eagles
Our first hockey hug comes to us from The Beanpot. In this photo, Boston College forward Steve Whitney is mobbed by teammates while shamed Northeastern blueliner Anthony Bitetto tries to crawl away.
I choose to imagine it was the power of love that brought him to his knees, like the moment BC came together, he fell to the ice in awe of their closeness, like "I want to go to there."
No. 4, Chicago Blackhawks
Did you know that Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook are pretty close? Because they totally are. They go on vacations together, and occasionally, pass the time during TV timeouts by getting down on one knee and saying how much they mean to each other in front of their teammates.
"Duncan.... sometimes when you jump into the rush... I miss you."
No. 3, Tampa Bay Lightning
One of the reasons I wholly endorse Tyler Ennis centering the Sabres' top line is that he'll have more opportunities to score up there, and tiny guys make for the best hockey hugs. Case in point: Tampa's Martin St. Louis. I made this photo nice and big just so you could appreciate what makes it so awesome. Scroll down.
Aw. That's adorable. Seriously, he looks like a five-year-old being hugged by his dad. Someone needs to photoshop a stick of cotton candy into his right hand.
No. 2, Carolina Hurricanes
Anthony Stewart's feeling amorous. I love the look on his face. It's like that "I'm so into you right now" gaze that cats give you right after they wake up.
"Mmmmmmmmm... oh hey there. Don't mind me. Just hugging my friend Cam Ward. My best friend Cam Ward."
No. 1, Philadelphia Flyers
But nothing, and I mean nothing, can beat a good leaping superhug, and this mid-air embrace between Daniel Briere and Brayden Schenn is one of the best ones I've seen. The way I see it, they started on the ground, and this photo was taken at the exact moment Briere realized that they were no longer there. It's like that scene from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory where Charlie and Grandpa Joe sample the Fizzy Lifting Drinks.
"Help! We're floating!"