Top Line: Red hot Blues goalie, Vladimir Konstantinov's battle, more links
By Allan Muir
An annotated guide to this morning's must-read hockey stories:
• Remember when St. Louis sent Brian Elliott to the minors because he couldn't stop a beach ball? He's back now, and after watching him record his third consecutive shutout, the Blues might want to ship a few more guys down to Peoria for a tune-up.
• Minnesota has been shut out three times in the past four games and the Wild lost defenseman Ryan Suter to an undisclosed injury last night. But coach Mike Yeo is upbeat because, well, why wouldn't he be?
• Josh Bailey scored twice to lead the pesky Islanders to their eighth win in 10 games. If you haven't checked them out lately, you might want to catch 'em this weekend against the archrival Rangers. Or you could just wait until the playoffs. (No, it's only a jinx if they're on the cover of the magazine.)
• So let's add up the day in Boston: Loss to the Isles, the Swedish Ice Hockey Federation refuses to release Carl Soderberg, and Brad Marchand is diagnosed with a concussion after that hit from Anton Volchenkov. I'm guessing someone's dog probably died, too.
• It ended with a shootout win, but another soft effort against a patsy has to be a concern for Los Angeles coach Darryl Sutter.
• Braden Holtby recovered from a shaky start to post a career-high 43 saves as the Capitals captured their sixth straight win. Nice to get the two points, but they might want to look into how the Hurricanes ran off the first 14 shots of the game.
• That loss seems pretty trivial when you read this touching story about former Detroit great Vladimir Konstantinov and the daily battles he fights 16 years after his career-ending car wreck.
• Who says the Penguins need Sidney Crosby? Pascal Dupuis scored his 20th goal of the season to lead Pittsburgh over the Lightning. And each time he scores, he makes it more likely that this speedy winger leaves town as a UFA this summer.
• Danny Briere is an obvious amnesty buyout candidate in Philadelphia. And he seems to be okay with that. Because, obviously, there are worse things than being paid by one team to play for them while another team pays you not to.
• The Flyers took a dip into the free agency pool, adding Quebec League scoring star Petr Straka. Low-risk signing with the potential for a high yield. He's had consistency issues, but you can't question 41 goals in 55 games.
• Oh, and the Flyers lost on Thursday night. Again.
• At 21, Taylor Hall has emerged as the heart-and-soul player that the Oilers can build their franchise around. And he dodged a fine/suspension for that ridiculous slash on Zbynek Michalek. So, good day for Hallsy.
• Here's who the NHL and NHLPA bean counters are rooting for in the playoff races.