Top Line: Matt Cooke returns to Ottawa, Rangers' offense in high gear, more links
By Allan Muir
An annotated guide to this morning's must-read hockey stories:
• It hasn't skipped the attention of the Ottawa Senators that Matt Cooke will be in town tonight. Now, they say they need to focus on winning the game, but everyone knows there's money on the board.
• Maybe Cooke shouldn't be too worried. At least not as long as Pittsburgh GM Ray Shero is around to defend his good name.
• With 18 goals in its last three games, the New York Rangers' offense is clicking at just the right time. Have to give Brad Richards most of the credit. When's he's on his game, the Blueshirts are a much more dangerous team.
• The response from New Jersey: "Those were the Rangers? Yeah, we didn't even notice."
• The Boston Bruins got a bounce-back effort from Tuukka Rask and snapped their four-game winless skid with a 3-0 win over the Panthers. The victory moved them into first in the Northeast, but alleviated the concerns of only the most casual of fans.
• The Bruins typically hand their sweaters over to season-ticket holders on Shirt Off Our Backs night. This year, the team had a better idea.
• Good thing the Flyers picked up Steve Mason at the deadline. He can show them the ropes on how to get the best tee times in early May and all those other things he learned playing for a non-playoff team in Columbus.
• With that spot sewn up, coach Randy Carlyle has a rare choice to make in Toronto: give key players a rest or go for the best possible seed.
• Only Toronto has been away from the postseason so long that doing a Where Are They Now? feature on the members of their last playoff team makes sense.
• Good teams find a way to win games which is exactly what Los Angeles has been doing during the last month. And it's pretty much what they did over the final month last season, which should be a cause for concern for their Western Conference opponents.
• The Los Angeles Times doesn't allow its writers to vote for awards, so veteran scribe Helene Elliott reveals who she would have chosen.
• At least Anaheim has something to play for. The only thing Edmonton has to look forward to after being officially eliminated is the draft lottery. Which, of course, they'll win.
• Canucks fans about to get a look at blueline prospect Frankie Corrado. I've had more than one scout tell me the fifth-rounder was the steal of the 2011 NHL draft. • Maybe if Kim Jung Un spent more time playing hockey instead of basketball, this never would have happened.