By Allan Muir
An annotated guide to this morning's must-read hockey stories:
• The theme of Thursday night's action? A trio of backup goalies were forced into action at the most critical point of the year (so far). The results varied.
• Aw shucks, Sidney Crosby said. My goal wasn't as good as the one that earned Mario Lemieux a statue. If you think about it, that's a pretty high standard against which to compare any goal. But geez, what a beauty!
• After a 4-0 shutout of the Isles, it looks like the Penguins are Tomas Vokoun's team now.
• The Isles say they missed defenseman Andrew MacDonald in last night's loss, which kind of surprises me since I thought he'd looked brutal earlier in the series.
• Rick Nash has become a figure of diminishing importance for the Rangers as their series against the Caps progresses. It's time for him to step up and prove he can contribute.
• He's not the only superstar under the microscope. Alex Ovechkin disappeared in Games 3 and 4. Here's the key to his return to impact form in Game 5.
• A few poorly chosen words didn't get in the way of an Ottawa Senators team that was determined to finish off the Montreal Canadiens.
• Coaches Paul MacLean and Michel Therrien offered grudging respect for one another after the game, and series, ended.
• So which team was the real Canadiens? The one that tore through the first 40 games or the one that stumbled into, and out of, the playoffs?
• A two-goal performance in Chicago's knock-out win against Minnesota suggests that Marian Hossa is back in top form.
• The Wild's first postseason appearance in five years was over in five games. Everyone points to the same problem: Minnesota's finishers failed the team.
• Mike Russo has some postgame thoughts from Minnesota's coaches and players and reveals what was wrong with Niklas Backstrom.
• The Toronto Maple Leafs are rallying around captain Dion Phaneuf as he takes the blame for their OT loss in Game 4.
• The Leafs gave up on Tuukka Rask, trading him to Boston one year after drafting him. They're kinda wishing they could get a do-over on that one right now.
• Red Wings coach Mike Babcock is considering adding more veteran experience to his lineup for tonight's crucial Game 6, but Drew Sharp argues that he should stick with the kids until the end.
• With the Wings on the ropes, Ryan Getzlaf and the Ducks are ready to go for the kill..
• The Kings are bruised and battered after five hard-hitting games against the Blues. Avoiding the punishment of a seventh game has them anxious to finish their series tonight.
• Vancouver GM Mike Gillis faced a phalanx of reporters and answered some hard questions about a disappointing end to the season.
• What did Gillis have to say about Alain Vigneault? Lots of nice things, actually...but that doesn't mean the coach will be returning next season.
• Could the Winnipeg Jets pursue Vigneault if he becomes available?
• The Jets sent first-rounder Mark Scheifele back to junior hockey so that he could learn to dominate. Yeah, I guess you could call this dominating.
• That was quick. With the interim tag removed from his job title, Ron Rolston started swinging the axe in Buffalo by sending a pair of long-time assistants to the unemployment line.
• Mike Smith
earned the shutout as Canada beat host country Sweden 3-0
at the World Hockey Championship. Looks like the team is coming together nicely, which is more than Russia can say after the defending champs were beaten by France
in what will go down as one of the greatest upsets of the decade.