Team Canada's chances of defending its gold medal in Sochi could actually be challenged by a soft early schedule. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
By Allan Muir
A guide to this morning's must-read hockey stories:
• The NHL, IIHF and IOC meet Thursday and Friday (Feb. 14-15) in New York to look for a way to secure the league's involvement in the Sochi Olympic Games. Reviving the dormant World Cup is also on the schedule for discussion.
• What is the polar opposite of Group of Death? Canada (my projected roster is here) will face Finland, Norway and Austria in the preliminary round in Sochi, and that may not be a good thing.
• Highlights from the final day of the Olympic qualifying tournament that sent Slovenia and Austria to Sochi 2014.
• Makes sense to pay attention when a team that's been around as long as the Bruins sets a franchise record. Yesterday's 3-1 win over the Sabres moved Boston to 8-1-1, the best start in team history.
• The (virtually) unbeatable Blackhawks finished their six-game road trip with a 4-0-2 mark after blanking the Predators 4-0 in Nashville. Corey Crawford, who I doubted early on, continued to prove me wrong by posting his first shutout since April, 2011.
• Okay, I get it: it is never, ever a good idea to write off the New Jersey Devils. After a home-and-home sweep of the Penguins, Pete DeBoer's club looks ready and able to defend that Eastern Conference title.
• Everything is coming together exactly as Brian Burke planned in Toronto.
• The problems in Colorado go deeper than injuries and missing players. Slow starts and a lack of offense from the back end perpetuate a cycle of losing that could keep the Avs out of the playoffs for a fifth time in seven seasons.
• The Ducks invested one year and a million bucks on a 30-year-old Swedish goalie. So far, Viktor Fasth has returned a 5-0 record, a 1.72 GAA and a .932 save percentage. Looks like they're getting their money's worth.
• Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk are driving the bus for a Detroit team that's learning to win without Nicklas Lidstrom.
• The Oilers wasted a great goaltending performance from Nikolai Khabibulin in Detroit on Saturday. No such mistake Sunday, when a brilliant 39-save effort from Devan Dubnyk helped Edmonton end its five-game losing streak.
• Free-agent forward Jay Pandolfo is traveling with the Boston Bruins, but the 38-year-old has yet to sign with the team. He might be a useful depth player later in the season. Meanwhile, the B's are looking at April 26th as a makeup date for the game that was postponed on Saturday with the Lightning.
• The Canucks
held their annual super skills competition. We now know that Cory Schneider should be the go-to guy over Roberto Luongo...in a fastest-shot challenge.