If there's one thing that ticks me off a little bit (okay, there's more than one), it's the amount of times I've had to watch that Ovechkin goal. I'm not going to link to it, but you know the one I'm talking about.
Ovechkin cuts down the ice, blazing with speed, giggling at his teammates as they call for a pass. He moves in, dives onto his knees to ensure that this will be a highlight goal, and is clipped by a Coyotes defenseman. He spills onto his back and as a last ditch effort, throws the puck aimlessly towards the net. The shot gets by Vezina trophy candidate Phillipe Sauvé as he slides out of position, wondering if Gretzky will ever come out of retirement to centre their first line.
Sure, it was a fun goal, and kudos to Ovechkin for his "never say die" attitude towards hockey (and his "never look in the mirror" style of personal grooming), but I've heard people proclaim this as the best goal in the history of hockey. It's just not. One; It's a lucky goal, two; scoring a goal against the Phoenix Coyotes is the equivalent of a hole in one playing mini-golf, and most importantly, that honor belongs to our very own Nik Hagman...
This goal is fantastic. Watch it. If you've seen it before, watch it again. Eight or nine times. Is this the greatest goal in the history of hockey? Maybe. Here's why I think it just might be.
1. Matt Stajan: Okay, this is a prologue to the goal, but Matt Stajan is fantastic. He's not great, he's not flashy, and he gives the dullest interviews: if the Leafs were a 100 Flavour Ice Cream Parlour, Stajan would be "Vanilla". (Kyle Wellwood is "Cookie Dough". Colton Orr would be "Blood 'n' Guts". Jamal Mayers is chocol...nah. Let's not say that). But with Stajan, you know what you're getting. Get on the ice, do your job, and change it up. I hope we can fit him into the line-up because I'd love to see him win a cup with the Leafs one day.
2. Four seconds into the clip, Hagman gets drilled by the linesman like he's cutting across Scott Stevens' blueline. As he attempts to get up, he takes a knee to the head. Directly afterwards, a shot from the blueline takes a deflection, hitting him in the face (I'm laughing as I write this) and he angrily swats it away.
Let's recap. A man with a history of concussions takes a bodycheck, a knee to the head, and a puck to the forehead in 2.8 seconds. I timed it.
3. Hagman gets up and clearly has no idea where he is. He begins to skate towards the bench as the announcer claims "Hagman's hurt". Hagman apparently hears this and takes it as a personal slight because he does a 180 and heads back into the corner.
4. At the :30 mark, the announcer says "Stempniak looks for Hagman". This is ironic as the Leafs spent the rest of the year looking for Stempniak.
5. At :35 he says "Stajan tries a wrap-around, nope". Stajan obviously decided against using such an exciting maneuver. Maybe someone in his family has a heart condition and he doesn't want to be overstimulating.
6. Hagman regains the puck three seconds later, dangles aimlessly with his helmet over his eyes, beats three guys and calmly undresses the goalie before sliding it into the net.
7. The best part about this goal, maybe, is the celebration - or lack thereof. Hagman scores the best goal in the history of sport and reacts like he just scored an empty netter in a pre-season game. He looks like a child walking home from school after failing a test.
And off-camera, somewhere in the midst of the Leafs bench, Jason Blake is pumping his fist like there's no tomorrow.