Top Line: Blackhawks clinch Presidents' Trophy; St. Louis top scorer, more links
By Allan Muir
An annotated guide to this morning's must-read hockey stories:
• Not sure why the Blackhawks tried to downplay it, because by capturing the Presidents' Trophy with last night's win over the Oilers, they've guaranteed themselves home ice advantage through the playoffs. That could prove to be a very big deal.
• Their playoff hopes are over, but two Lightning stars are in it to the finish. Martin St. Louis scored his seventh career hat trick to take over the NHL scoring lead and finally deliver on a promise to his son.. Steven Stamkos tallied once to move to within two goals of Alexander Ovechkin in the race for the Richard Trophy.
• Sidney Crosby is expected to seek medical clearance in the next 48 hours to resume playing. That doesn't get him back in time to try to take back the scoring crown, but he could be available for the start of the playoffs.
• Playoff hockey is not a birthright in Detroit, but Nick Cotsonika does a lovely job of explaining why it seems to be.
• This might be Danny Briere's last home game as a Flyer, but the veteran forward is trying not to get too emotional about it.
• Winnipeg needs to win this one and pray.
• Here's a nice story from Brenda Branswell about one youth hockey team in Quebec that produced three NHL players.
• Apparently there's a statue debate raging in Edmonton. So of course Wayne Gretzky needs to chime in.
• Paul Maurice goes in-depth about his year spent coaching in Russia. The experience left him a changed man. • Looking for the next big thing out of Finland's goaltending factory? It might be Antti Raanta, who guided Assat Pori to the SM-Liga championship. The undrafted 23-year-old was named playoff MVP after winning 16 games and posting .955 save percentage and a 1.33 GAA.