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Top Line: Avalanche win again; Luongo allows bizarre goal; more links

Semyon Varlamov has been a central figure during the red-hot start for the Avalanche. (Nick Wass/AP) Semyon Varlamov has been a central figure for the Avalanche during their red-hot start. (Nick Wass/AP)

By Allan Muir

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

• It wasn't quite the blowout indicated by the score--they were outshot almost 2-1--but the Colorado Avalanche rode a brilliant 40-save effort from Semyon Varlamov to move to 5-0 and push the reeling Caps to their third-straight loss.

• These Avs won't let themselves be pushed around by anyone, writes Adrian Dater, and that means there will be an armed response to Boston's bullies when the Bruins visit Denver later this season.

• It was hard not to view last night's match-up between Carey Price's Canadiens and Roberto Luongo's Canucks through the prism of Canada's Olympic goaltending battle. And after one turned in a brilliant 39-save performance, a front-runner might be emerging.

• But he might be feeling the heat from a pair of darkhorses.

• You won't see many goals crazier than this one that somehow slipped through Luongo's legs for the game winner.

• The Sharks needed a third-period comeback against the Senators to remain undefeated.

• Rookie sensation Tomas Hertl was injured in the contest and may not be available for Tuesday's showdown with St. Louis. After being hammered in consecutive games, it's clear someone needs to teach the kid how to avoid being destroyed by the opposition. He did manage to notch his league-leading seventh goal of the season before departing, though.

• There were errors and screw-ups from beginning to end of Toronto's 6-5 OT win over the Oilers, but Damien Cox is right. If there was more hockey played like that, the NHL would be playing a lot more than six games in football stadiums this year.

Nail Yakupov was scratched for the game by the Oilers. Devan Dubnyk probably wishes he had been, too.

• After last night's hat trick, Sidney Crosby is on pace to top 100 points, but that's nowhere close to being his most eye-opening stat.

• Chris Stevenson wants to change the conversation when it comes to disrespecting the game and brings up some West Coast trade bait and a bizarre Jaromir Jagr statistic in his Sunday column.

• Steve Simmons rips the advanced stats geeks, Steve Yzerman and Jason Botchford (though not by name) in his Sunday column.

• The fast firing of Peter Laviolette has tightened collars around the league. Kevin Dineen, Mike Yeo and Claude Noel are on the clock, writes Bruce Garrioch, in yet another Sunday potpourri piece.

• As always, Don Cherry and Coach's Corner is a must-watch. This segment offered up a rare example of where Grapes and I disagree on something. Actually, a couple of somethings.

• It wasn't the job he dreamed of while playing hockey for Lake Superior State, but stats geek Jason Nightingale is finally living a new version of the NHL dream as an analyst for the Buffalo Sabres.

• The St. Louis Blues are off to the best start in franchise history and a couple of Alexes one Alex and one Alexander are leading the way.

• The result was the same--a 5-2 loss to the Wings--but there finally was a sense of urgency in Philadelphia's play last night. Baby steps, right?

Loui Eriksson was the best player on the ice in Boston's win over Columbus. You don't suppose he noticed Tyler Seguin's four-point night, do you?

• It wasn't just the pursuit of a quieter lifestyle that led to Nathan Horton to flee Boston last July. It was what he saw as a lack of respect from Bruins' management.

Jeff Skinner is buried on Carolina's third line, but he's been their most consistent and most effective forward so far this season.

• Veteran center Jeff Halpern started the season in Finland, but signed on yesterday with Phoenix. That doesn't mean he's sure to dress for the Coyotes, though. Because he's coming from Europe, he has to clear waivers first, and there's a chance another team could snatch him off the wires.

Mark Fayne might not be a household name, but there's something universal in his story of growing up to live the hockey dream.

Brandon Pirri knows he needs to be less sexy if he hopes to stick with the Chicago Blackhawks.

• Here's a helpful roundup of last night's action involving the NCAA's top-10 teams. Wish the CHL would offer up the same sort of bite-sized digest every weekend.

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