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Top Line: Pens/Jackets trade rumors fly, Schneider's sweet new mask, more links

Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson may be traded to the Penguins. On the move? Blue Jackets blueliner Jack Johnson is close to returning from a shoulder injury. (Russell Lansford/Icon SMI)

By Allan Muir

A guide to this morning's must-read hockey stories:

• Three members of Columbus' front office took in last night's Penguins-Bolts game, leading to speculation that Jack Johnson could be headed to Pittsburgh. The Pens are looking for a signed, veteran blueliner, and have some young D-men to deal, making them an ideal partner for the Jackets. Add in Johnson's friendship with Sidney Crosby and this one makes a lot of sense. We'll see...

• Whether they make a deal or not, Jarmo Kekalainen and the Jackets' crew picked a good night to take in a game. Evgeni Malkin added another clip to his highlight reel as the Pens edged the Lightning in a thriller.

Cory Schneider is having a new mask painted up to wear when the Vancouver Canucks wear their Millionaires tribute sweaters. And it is a beauty. And since we're on the subject of masks, here's the look that new Carolina starter Dan Ellis will be rocking.

• Speaking of Ellis, here's another voice echoing my sentiment that the Hurricanes need help on the blueline more than another goalie in the wake of Cam Ward's injury.

• Someone at Lucasfilm heard about Ilya Bryzgalov's Star Wars mask...and made him change it.

• Tampa's Mathieu Garon joined half the league's goalies in sick bay after suffering an undisclosed injury. Sounds like coach Frantz Jean better keep his pads handy.

• Here's the perspective from Buffalo on Patrick Kaleta's five-game suspension. Shockingly, shockingly, I say, it is sympathetic to a player who says, "I have changed my game." That's probably true. Last year, Kaleta would have crosschecked Brad Richards in the head instead of the back.

• A survey suggests that Canadians favor adopting the larger European-sized ice surface. This idea isn't going away any time soon.

• After a lost rookie season, Blue Jackets forward Ryan Johansen is flashing glimpses of his superstar potential.

• The Coyotes aren't making much noise, but they're finding ways to win. Doesn't hurt that they have Oliver Ekman-Larsson who, fittingly, is having a quietly brilliant season.

• It sounds like Manny Malhotra's career may not be over even though Vancouver GM Mike Gillis keeps saying it is. Look for the NHLPA to get involved if this goes much further.

• Gillis's frustration with Vancouver's inconsistent play is mounting. A shakeup seems likely, but don't look for Roberto Luongo to be the man on the move.

• Jose Theodore looks finished as a member of the Florida Panthers after tearing his groin. He'll be a free agent this summer and the Cats have Jacob Markstrom ready to take a spot in their tandem.

• It took Montreal's Max Pacioretty nearly a month to score his first goal, but he's been on fire since, netting eight in his last eight games. He has two small reasons to thank for his turnaround.

Boston Globe columnist Eric Wilbur calls Montreal "a gutless hockey culture." Ooh, boy...

• Brent Sutter says young players need to get involved in other sports and ditch the 12-months-a-year hockey schedule.

• Veteran NHLer Dominic Moore opens up about the loss of his wife to cancer. Just a terribly sad story. I wish Dom all the best.

• Calgary enforcer Brian McGrattan has been sober for four years now. He's using his experience to help other players who are battling substance abuse.

Weakerthans singer John K. Samson has posted an online petition making the case for Reggie Leach to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

• And finally, check out this amazingly failed interview with the very charming Mila Kunis.

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