Top Line: Corey Crawford elevates his game; David Krejci, too; more links
By Allan Muir
An annotated guide to this morning's must-read hockey stories:
• After bettering Jonathan Quick for a second night, Corey Crawford is proving that he's ready to join the ranks of the NHL's elite netminders. His sliding save on that crazy bounce off the glass? That tells you all you need to know about where his confidence is now.
• If the Blackhawks win it all this year, this might be the moment they talk about as when it all came together for them.
• Over the past four seasons, the Blackhawks have been the NHL's best playoff road team with a 14-10 record, so they're prepared for the challenge of trying to knock out the champs in their own building.
• Ever since Joel Quenneville activated his blueline in Game 5 of the Detroit series, Chicago's defensemen have been key to the team's success.
• Quick giving up four goals on 17 shots? Yeah, we all saw that coming, right? The humbled netminder is ready to put this one behind him and focus on redemption in Game 3.
• Injuries are starting to take a toll on the Kings. Mike Richards was a late scratch last night, Drew Doughty was dinged up by a slew foot, and others appear noticeably slowed. That's not an excuse -- everyone's banged up this time of year -- but the Blackhawks are handling their health problems better.
• I liked Mike Milbury's explanation for why Boston's top line is playing so well this spring. To paraphrase: "They're well rested. They took the regular season off!" No one's complaining about that now as David Krejci and Nathan Horton have taken their game to another level for the playoffs.
• Jack Todd lambastes Shanahan for failing to properly discipline serial offenders, and Mario Lemieux for his hypocrisy in this scathing indictment of the handling of Cooke.
• Here are the key adjustments that the Penguins must make if they want to tie up the series tonight.
• History says the Penguins must win tonight ... or else.
• No surprise that some think the Penguins ought to look for comfort in the arms of Marc-Andre Fleury for tonight's game. But it ain't happenin'.
• Elliotte Friedman says Tim Thomas is considering returning to action next season. Interesting, but you have to wonder what kind of shape he's in after having sat out this season...and whether any NHL team is desperate enough to take a chance on him being their No. 1. Odds are if he returns, he'll be going to Europe.
• Good piece from Wayne Coffey on Seth Jones and his potential to become the first African-American taken with the top pick in the NHL draft. Interesting thing is, outside of us media types looking for an angle, I'm not really sure anybody in the hockey community cares what color the kid is. Jones isn't a black player. He's a player.
• Tampa Bay is also stuck paying a lot of money to a player who may never suit up again.
• After sitting in the press box for much of the playoffs, Jordin Tootoo might be looking forward to larger role next season as the Red Wings move to the East. • Detroit prospect Petr Mrazek made an impression with back-to-back shutouts for the Grand Rapids Griffins in the AHL semis. He's run up a streak of 163:25 since last allowing a goal to the Oklahoma City Barons. The series heads back to Grand Rapids for Game 6 and 7.