Hockey Hugs is a feature that celebrates the best in hugging from around the sport of hockey, because who doesn't love a good hug now and then? Have you seen a particularly good hug photo lately? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org or Tweet it to @HarrisonMooney.
The first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs was downright fantastic. Due to a few poor finishes from great teams, and a few great finishes by good teams, we were left with matchups worthy of a Conference Final to kick things off. We had breakout performances, lead changes, historic collapses and comebacks.
And also some pretty great hugs.
Nothing ratchets up hockey hug quality quite like higher stakes, and in the playoffs, where every goal counts, seemingly every hug is a classic.
MInd you, that's true with Zdeno Chara regardless of the time of year. The man is a children's nightmare come to life. As a result, every single one of his hugs looks less like two guys celebrating a goal and more like a monster seizing a hockey player to take back to his lair and devour. You can't see Reilly Smith's face up there, but I imagine he's pleading at the Red Wings player in the background for some sort of intervention.
Sadly, no man is brave enough to face The Chara, and Reilly Smith was eaten.
Anyway. Hugward we go.
No. 6, Colorado Avalanche
Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog share a moment.
"Nathan! I know it's uncool for 18-year-olds to wear helmets, but you really ought to have one on."
"You're not the boss of me, gramps."
No. 5, Columbus Blue Jackets
Ryan Johansen and Brandon Dubinsky deal with a sudden crisis.
"Sidney Crosby is being booed! Everything is backwards!"
"Gravity has been reversed! We're floating away!"
"Hold me down!"
"Hold ME down!"
No. 4, San Jose Sharks
The Sharks have a choking problem. It happens a lot. Fortunately, James Sheppard and Tomas Hertl have prepared for just such an emergency.
No. 3, Tampa Bay Lightning
That looks like an incredible hug behind P.K. Subban. Because he is human, he wants in.
"One day, P.K., one day someone will hug you like that. You hang in there, P.K. Okay, P.K."
No. 2, Boston Bruins
Zdeno Chara hugs Jarome Iginla, while thinking about what he's going to do after the game: sprout his unholy, black wings, then fly to a village in Slovakia and eat all the kids.
No. 1, New York Rangers
Dominic Moore greets Brian Boyle as he comes over the boards the same way he always does.
Kudos to the great Bruce Bennett, who took this photo, by the way. Watch the gif: Bennett snapped this at the exact, perfect moment.