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Top Line: Instant impact for new nets; it's Spezza's time in Ottawa; more links

Ottawa's Jason Spezza hopes to return before the end of the season after having back surgery (Jana Chytilova/Getty Images). Ottawa's Jason Spezza will have to be more of a leader for the Sens this upcoming season. (Jana Chytilova/Getty Images).

By Allan Muir

An annotated guide to this morning's must-read hockey stories:

• Katie Carrera has five thoughts on last night's preseason-opening win for the Capitals, including how the new size and shape of the nets led directly to a Winnipeg goal.

• Here's a good look at those new nets, along with some insight into how they're supposed to impact play. Never a bad idea to try something different, but I give it three weeks before goalies alter their games to negate whatever value this change creates.

• Ed Tait offers some knee-jerk reactions to the Hockeyville contest. Sure can't argue with No. 1. That kid came to play.

• Mark Schiefele's strong performance on Winnipeg's top line suggested the 2011 first rounder could be ready to stick on his third try.

• A couple years back, Jason Spezza was getting booed every time he touched the puck at home. Now he's getting the C stitched on his sweater. Did the Sens make the right call in passing the torch to a player who always seemed more like a giggling goof than a leader in the past? Wayne Scanlan thinks so.

• "Every day, we're having meetings after practice and he's been the guy everybody's been overwhelmed with so far," said Colorado coach Patrick Roy. And he's not talking about Nathan MacKinnon.

• Listening to members of the Red Wings talk, you'd think Danny DeKeyser was the next Nick Lidstrom.

• When a power play's been as lousy as Boston's over the past few years, any fresh approach is worth considering. This one just might work.

Reilly Smith and Matt Fraser are battling to prove they were simply throw-ins in the franchise-altering Tyler Seguin-Loui Eriksson trade.

• The most noteworthy addition the Stanley Cup champs made this summer was a 40-year-old who'll hardly play. But that doesn't mean Nikolai Khabibulin won't make an impact in Chicago.

• Who has the best fans in the league? Montreal made a pretty convincing case last night.

Carey Price better keep his head on a swivel. The Canadiens signed the the guy who's going to take his job away on Saturday.

• The Oilers are in a jam, and so they've asked Taylor Hall to switch from left wing to center. It doesn't take a four-year degree in between-the-line-reading to tell he ain't exactly happy about it.

• It's not often you hear a top prospect declare himself not ready for the NHL, but that's exactly what one Maple Leaf hopeful did yesterday.

Joffrey Lupul used to be known as one of the game's most dedicated party boys. Finally, at 29, he's ready to focus on hockey. SPOILER ALERT: contains brilliant reference to Tony Orlando.

Dan Boyle's willingness to play a lesser role may help him land the two-year contract extension he's been angling for.

• Dig into Kevin Dupont's potpourri column for a great line about one of Jaromir Jagr's more peculiar habits.

• The career of Mike Zigomanis might have taken an entirely different path if not for the fax machine issues that prevented the Sabres from signing him back in 2001. 12 years later, he finally has a chance to wear the blue and gold.

Reto Berra took the early lead over Karri Ramo for the starting job in Calgary with a bold turn in last night's 6-5 win over Edmonton.

• New ownership is making life a whole lot easier in Phoenix.

• Does Marian Gaborik still have the jets to be one of the league's most dangerous players? The Blue Jackets are playing wait-and-see before offering the 31-year-old a new deal.

• Vezina winner Sergei Bobrovsky came to Columbus' camp a different man.

• Simon Gagne was tossed aside by the Flyers during last week's dalliance with Dan Cleary. He's feeling pretty butthurt about the whole thing.
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