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Morning Flurries: Tuukka Rask wins the internet

Boston Bruins v New York Rangers Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The NHL has been a flurry of chaos over the last month, with teams testing positive for COVID-19, getting games postponed, and losing formerly-promising young defenders to social media gaffes and locker room distractions.

But while most of the chaos has ranged from disappointing to downright frustrating, though, the chaotic gaffe by Boston Bruins starting goaltender Tuukka Rask on Wednesday night was nothing short of hilarious.

The Bruins were tightly locked in a close 2-2 matchup with the New York Rangers, counting down the final minutes of play before the game hit overtime, when Rask skated out of the blue paint to challenge — and then just kept going, skating all the way over to the bench in a seeming attempt to pull himself in the last :55 seconds of a tie game:

It was the most baffling blunder by a professional athlete since JR Smith forgot the game was tied during Cleveland’s playoff run in 2018, gifting the world with the best LeBron James meme we’ll ever get.

Ultimately, Rask made it back to his net in time to avoid a true team meltdown and helped the team head to overitme, where Bruins forward Brad Marchand sealed the deal with a quick goal against Birthday Boy Alexandar Georgiev.

But when asked what exactly went wrong, Rask opted not to take the easy way out by pretending he’d seen a delayed penalty or icing call — and just owned up to his own hilarious error:

In a less hilarious error, the Vegas Golden Knights skated half of their game against the Anaheim Ducks with a covid-positive player on the ice earlier this week — and despite that, doubled down on their decision to let the Golden Knights skate again later this evening:

The bizarre series of events unfolded on Tuesday night, when Vegas and Anaheim both abruptly cancelled their post-game media Zoom availability due to covid-19 protocol:

Both teams ultimately confirmed that the game had been played with a player (Nosek) skating despite awaiting pending covid testing results — and once those results came in, he was pulled from the game and placed into league-mandated covid protocol.

The rest of the two teams haven’t been placed into protocol yet, though, despite sharing ice time and a bench with him for well over 20 minutes leading up to the positive result. And the league seems determined to allow the two teams to continue to play their games anyway, leading to plenty of questions — particularly about whether or not the league truly wants to see their flurry (no pun intended) of game cancellations go down any time soon.

And speaking of such, the league also confirmed that they’ll be allowing fans at yet another arena in the coming weeks:

The announcement comes despite six teams currently sitting in covid-protocol purgatory (the Buffalo Sabres, the New Jersey Devils, the Philadelphia Flyers, the Washington Capitals, the Minnesota Wild, and of course the Avalanche) — and despite the snafu involving Vegas and Anaheim just the night before.

Other teams have managed to have fans in the building without suffering from covid-related protocol postponements so far, including the Arizona Coyotes in Colorado’s own division. So as long as fan attendance is implemented safely, it’s possible that the decision won’t negatively impact the Rangers — or their fans — in any way. But given the way the league has been trending so far, it’s a bit of a surprising decision.

In more positive news, let’s give a cheer for the bold young hockey players who have been given an extra financial boost to help them play thanks to Black Girl Hockey Club:

The number of young black women who are playing hockey at higher and higher levels has been growing as of late, with a record number of black women hitting the ice for the current NCAA season this year. And thanks to scholarships like the ones given out by BGHC, that number should only continue to grow — diversifying a game that sits woefully behind other sports when it comes to acceptance and inclusion. []

On a final note, a moment of appreciation for Serena Williams — who will play her third-round Australian Open match against Anastasia Potapova later this evening.

Williams, who is 39, hasn’t won a Grand Slam event since 2017, when she won the Australian Open whilst eight weeks pregnant with her daughter, Alexis Olympia. She climbed her way back to 10th overall over the last two years, returning to play in mid-2018 and steadily reasserting her place as a formidable force in women’s tennis over the next two years worth of WTA tournaments. Now, she’s looking to tie the all-time Grand Slam title record with a potential victory in Melbourne this month.

It’s been fun watching her remind the world that even 23 years after making her Grand Slam debut, she’s still one of the most dominant players in the game; she defeated her first-round opponent in less than an hour before taking her second contest 6-3, 6-0 against rising star Nina Stojanovic. Now, she’ll face off against a 19-year old former Junior Tennis number 1 player — aiming to move one step closer to winning it all.

One of the most highly-anticipated matchups will be Serena vs. Naomi Osaka, which would potentially happen in the women’s semifinal two rounds down the line. But if Williams can make it that far, she’ll be even closer to re-asserting herself as the premier player in professional tennis — which, after Tom Brady made another case for his spot among America’s all-time best athletes this past weekend, would really help keep up the spirit of #winning while we slog through US covid nonsense.

And as an afterthought, speaking of Tom Brady:

Like a child taking their first steps.