Top Line: Reaction to Oilers' moves mixed, Habs routed again, more links
By Allan Muir
An annotated guide to this morning's must-read hockey stories:
• Let's just say that the reaction in Edmonton was mixed, at best, to the news that the Oilers had fired GM Steve Tambellini and replaced him with Craig MacTavish. There was a heated exchange with reporters over the hiring of the team's former coach amid a perception that little had changed with the move. I'm slightly more optimistic, but it's clear from the local reaction that this is the last kick at the can for team president Kevin Lowe.
• Bruce McCurdy takes a hard look at the lineup that MacTavish inherits, with an eye on the holes that need to be addressed.
• Carey Price got the hook for the second consecutive game as the Habs were overmatched in every way against the Flyers. Price will take the heat, but this looks like a team that's taken its foot off the gas since clinching a playoff berth. They now have three games in four nights to rediscover their mojo.
• Even before his team's offense finally woke up in that win over the Canadiens, Flyers GM Paul Holmgren indicated that coach Peter Laviolette's job is safe. I can only imagine how warmly that news will be greeted in Philadelphia.
• Cam Charron takes another stab at convincing the public that advanced analytics are the wave of the present in hockey. It can be interesting stuff, but when you try to win over non-believers with stats like "score-tied shots differential," don't be surprised when eyes quickly glaze over.
• Big Shot, a documentary about John Spano's ill-fated attempt to purchase the Islanders, gets its debut at the Tribeca Film Festival this week. Directed by Kevin Connolly -- yes, E from Entourage -- the film eventually will be aired as part of ESPN's 30 For 30 series.
• You have to love an optimist. Devils coach Pete DeBoer believes his team can still make the playoffs, even in the wake of a franchise record-tying 10th straight loss last night. Truth is, New Jersey has outplayed the opposition in six or seven of those games, but hasn't had the puck luck to seal the deal. It isn't inconceivable that they could finish the season with six or seven wins, but no one should expect it.
• Steve Buffery says a case can be made to award the NHL's GM of the Year to a guy who doesn't even have the job anymore.
• "I just try to do my job," says Toronto Maple Leafs forward Leo Komarov. Spoken like a true superpest. If you aren't already aware of how well the rookie has filled the role, get ready for an eye-opening performance in the playoffs.
• The Stars had lessons to learn about winning after the Chicago Blackhawks snapped Dallas' five-game win streak. Love Mike Heika's line about the Hawks "playing with their food."
• Dallas may have lost more than the game. Rookie sensation Alex Chiasson is out indefinitely with a sprained shoulder. Chiasson has scored six goals through his first seven games -- more than any player not named Alex Ovechkin since the trade deadline.
• After struggling to handle the defensive responsibilities that come with playing center, Tyler Ennis is rediscovering his game since his move to the wing. • Mike Smith has made a habit out of blanking the Sharks. He's posted four shutouts in their last six meetings. But when Smith was a late scratch, San Jose returned the favor on Monday night, blanking the Coyotes, 4-0. The win sets up a battle tonight against the Kings with fourth place in the West on the line.