By Allan Muir
An annotated guide to this morning's must-read hockey stories:
• There may have been some folks predicting a sweep in this series, but no one expected it would be the Boston Bruins pushing the brooms. Two goals allowed in four games...the more I think about it, the less explicable it seems. Whatever happens next, this will go down as one of the greatest series in franchise history. For the Bruins anyway. Probably not so much for the Pens.
• Tuukka Rask was the man amid the mayhem ensuring the Bruins would seal the deal. Have you even seen a push as chaotic as those final 30 seconds?
• This was the worst playoff loss in franchise history for the NHL's four-time defending paper champion. I'm guessing this piece by Dejan Kovacevic will resonate well with Pittsburgh's angriest fans.
• If big changes happen in Pittsburgh, it might not be for the reason you think.
• This stat says it all, doesn't it? Coming into these playoffs, the highest-scoring team in the league has failed to win the Cup every year since 1992. And the streak continues...
• Star-studded or just star-crossed, the Pens came up short in every way in this series.
• If the Pens decide to part ways with Dan Bylsma, there's a team with an opening that he'd be perfect for.
• After turning the Staples Center into a black pit of despair for visitors over the past couple months, Los Angeles finally lost at home in Game 4. They know how quickly streaks can end. They also know it's time for them to break their long slump on the road tonight in Chicago.
• It was just in the last round that the Blackhawks found themselves at the wrong end of a 3-1 series lead, so they understand the dangers posed by a desperate team. They're expecting to face the best the Kings can bring tonight in Game 5.
• Because hockey does not operate in a vacuum (despite what the Lords of the Boards appear to thing at times), here's a look at the real impact of Chicago's postseason success.
• Dan MacNeil might be have a worse run of playoff prognostications than me. So when the Final comes around, take note of what he and I say and then bet the opposite.
• I'm guessing some of you--maybe a lot of you--will question the manhood or ancestry of Ryan Lambert after reading this, but it really is a great take on hockey's play-through-pain culture. I don't do it often, but I'm stamping this one Must-Read.
• Nice job, Carolina. Their reluctance to provide high-quality towels was the prime reason the lockout lasted as long as it did. Or maybe not. But towel quality definitely is one of many eye-opening elements James Mirtle uncovered while parsing out the details of the new CBA.
• Because we love us some AHL hockey here at Top Line, we won't let the Calder Cup go unsung. The Syracuse Crunch have been building toward a return trip to the Final--sort of--all season. This team of cold-blooded closers has romped through the playoffs, but they'll be up against a Grand Rapids Griffins squad that boasts several players who've already proven their mettle in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Should be a good tilt. The series starts tonight, and you can watch it live online here.
• Here's the Dallas take on the Sergei Gonchar trade.
• And here's where Sean Avery crushes the Stars at Twitter. Probably seemed like a great idea to poke the bear at the time... • Ian White's tenure with the Red Wings is coming to an end. The play of the 29-year-old didn't merit him a spot, but it might have been something he said that clinched his ticket out of town.