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Top Line: Thomas Vanek-Matt Moulson swap stuns; Avs' big night; more links

John Tavares and Matt MoulsonJohn Tavares had a chemistry with the departing Matt Moulson that won't be easy to replicate. (Getty Images)

By Allan Muir

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

• The Islanders and Sabres pulled off a stunning swap last night, exchanging pending UFA wingers Thomas Vanek and Matt Moulson. This was all about winning now for Islanders GM Garth Snow, who gets the more dynamic player but assumes a considerably higher risk with his end of the bargain.

• Tim Wharnsby says Moulson and John Tavares had something special going on that Vanek will be hard-pressed to replicate. He also touches on a week of reunions around the league and the resurgence of Jarome Iginla in his Monday morning catch-all.

• GM Darcy Regier wasn't able to address the current sorry state of the Sabres, but by making this deal he provided hope for the future.

• It should be a game of high emotion tonight as Dallas faces Buffalo, with Lindy Ruff returning to meet the Sabres for the first time since being fired last summer. It'll be interesting to see Steve Ott rev it up against his old teammates, too.

• Whoever's in charge of updating the record book in Colorado is earning his keep this month. Matt Duchene's tally midway through the first period on Sunday tied one mark while a two-goal rally in the third helped the Avs to set another.

• Adrian Dater explains how it all came together for the surprising Avalanche.

• A slew of injuries up front have forced the Penguins to bump up the ice time for Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. The two have not responded well to the added workload. David Shoalts explains why.

Brandon Dubinsky says he's "not a dirty player," but he shouldn't be surprised if the label sticks after this hit on Saku Koivu last night. There's no hearing scheduled yet, but we should learn about one later this morning.

• At least Dubinsky will have company if he gets called in. Martin Hanzal booked his own appointment with Brendan Shanahan for this high hit on Edmonton defenseman Jeff Petry on Saturday.

• Alex Steen of the Blues refuses to get too worked up about his early goal-scoring success, but his teammates are believers.

• Mark Schiefele is struggling mightily in Winnipeg. Can the Jets afford to fight through his growing pains or is it time to ship him to the minors before his confidence is shot?

• Another NHL player has been sidelined indefinitely because of a blood clot. Scary stuff. Here's hoping for a quick recovery.

Pekka Rinne's injury might be more serious than was originally speculated. Here's what he had to say to a Finnish magazine -- and it's not very encouraging for Predators fans.

• Isn't this exactly the kind of start that long-time observers were expecting for Stephen Weiss in Detroit? Maybe it's just a matter of needing to acclimate to a new system, but on most nights this season he's looked like the same marginally effective player he was during the past few years in Florida.

• Nearly a month into the season, the wanderin' Rangers finally play their first home game at the renovated MSG. The question is: who will be between the pipes for the Blueshirts?

Chris Kreider just played the two most forceful games of his young career, but coach Alain Vigneault is not quite sold on the youngster just yet.

• These Phoenix Coyotes don't play like the old Phoenix Coyotes. That's a good thing, right?

• Did Quebec's language zealots force the Montreal Canadiens into this sporting first?

• Is Tampa Bay Lightning defender Radko Gudas part Mogwai? He sure responds poorly to getting wet.

• Even with veteran Rick DiPietro getting a look in Charlotte, this is the goaltending name that 'Canes fans need to tuck away for future reference. Two starts. Two shutouts. Welcome to the AHL, kid.
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