Dearly beloved hockey fans, we are gathered here today to mourn the end of one of the NHL's best streaks ever.
I speak not of goals, or points or games played. There will be no "Iron Man" accomplishments remembered here today. No, this streak required a rare sort of perseverance and inner fortitude to pull off. The feat was unprecedented in modern times. Its end on Wednesday night truly marked the end of an era in American pro sports.
You know what I'm talking about. Ryan Garbutt took a penalty.
Yes, I'm afraid it's true. The Anaheim Ducks grinder found himself in the penalty box on Wednesday for the first time in 17 games. 17 games! In case you're not aware, here are his greatest hits:
Most unfortunate. Garbutt was already up to 27 penalty minutes this year when the Chicago Blackhawks traded him to Anaheim on Jan. 21.
And then, he stopped taking penalties. It was miraculous. The man who couldn't keep himself out of trouble or the penalty box suddenly dropped off the radar as a peaceful hockey saint. For all we know, there's a new episode of "Touched By An Angel" coming out soon with him as the guest star. The sports landscape had changed forever for the better.
But, like Cal Ripken, Jr's games played streak and Joe DiMaggio's hit streak, Garbutt's historic run came to an inevitable end. The Headhunter had returned. Jeykll gave way to Hyde.
Sigh. It was such a good run. Maybe they'll take out the penalty box seat he didn't sit on for 17 games and put it in the Hockey Hall of Fame. In any case, NHLers should be on high alert again. Ryan Garbutt is back.
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3 things we learned
1. The kids are alright in Toronto
The Maple Leafs are basically the Marlies now that half of their young prospects seem to be getting an NHL tryout at the same time. William Nylander, Kasperi Kapanen, Connor Carrick and Nikita Soshnikov all saw decent ice time and played pretty well together. Soshnikov was the only one who scored, but the Leafs worked hard and gave the best team in the NHL a run for their money. Plus, if Mike Babcock is saying this about his rookies after the game ...
Babcock with apparent message to #Leafs Nylander and Kapanen: "If you’re not going to compete, it doesn’t matter how much skill you have."— Rob Longley (@longleysunsport) March 3, 2016
... then you know they didn't do too badly.
2. Artemi Panarin is quite good
And quite fun to watch. He'll float through defenders in the offensive zone and set up a scoring chance at least twice a game, and it leaves you speechless each time. It's the kind of stuff Patrick Kane does on his best nights, so it's no wonder they've clicked on a line together. At any rate, Panarin's two goals were only the catalyst of a terrific performance by the Blackhawks on Wednesday.
3. Montreal came to play
Yeah, maybe the season is lost. But Habs fans can take some semblance of solace in games like the one their team played in on Wednesday. The Anaheim Ducks severely outshot and outplayed the Canadiens in the early going, but goalie Mike Condon helped Montreal stay in it. And when the Ducks got feisty (and somewhat dirty), the Habs rallied around each other and kept pushing.
Brooks Laich's departure in a trade from Washington was reportedly really hard on him. After all, he spent more than a decade with the franchise. He played his old team on Wednesday, just days after the trade deadline, and hopefully that combined with the emotional video tribute helped him move on.
# of goals Alex Ovechkin has scored this season: 41— Dimitri Filipovic (@DimFilipovic) March 3, 2016
# of goals everyone in the Leafs lineup combined has scored this season: 67