Top Line: Varlamov sharp in return; nasty business in Philly; more links
An annotated guide to this morning's must-read hockey stories:
• An exceptional third period performance by Semyon Varlamov in a controversial starting role helped the Avs beat the Stars 3-2 in OT. Here were my quick and dirty thoughts from late last night on his performance. That link is worth clicking if only to see the Save of the Year candidate posted by Kari Lehtonen. Amazing.
• The Denver Post secured a neutral translation of Evgenia Vavrinyuk's Thursday press conference in which Varlamov's accuser told her side of the story. There are a few interesting differences from the original translation provided by her lawyer that seem to suggest more than simple nuance was in play here.
• The great Mike Heika saw the Budweiser Clydesdales outside the AAC last night and used their legendary teamwork to call attention to the plight of Lehtonen, Dallas' standalone star.
• The Flyers lost more than two points and any pretense of dignity last night. They also lost two key players to injuries suffered during the third period melee.
• The Caps didn't want to talk about the beating Braden Holtby took from Ray Emery. This is going to be the hot topic all weekend. Referee Francois St. Laurent is going to take some heat for not stepping in to stop it, but that's not his function. The real disgrace here is Emery's behavior.
• Speaking of on-ice violence, here is the game's greatest thinker, legendary goalie Ken Dryden, on why the game's greatest player, Bobby Orr, is wrong about fighting.
• Joey MacDonald unloaded both barrels on his Calgary teammates last night, despite the fact that he cost them the game by allowing a brutal goal early in the third. That choice apparently was not well received. Elliotte Friedman's tweet this morning suggests the ride is over for MacDonald in Calgary. Good guy, battles hard, but he's just not cut out for the No. 1 job long term.
• One of hockey's all-time great analysts breaks his silence to talk about what's wrong with the game he loves and how to fix it before it is too late. And when Howie Meeker talks hockey, it's worth your time to listen. A must-read.
• In his quiet moments away from steering the great experiment that is Canada, Prime Minister Stephen Harper spent his down time writing a book about the rise of professional hockey. Here's an excerpt.
• MacLean's previews an exclusive interview with the PM on his book and the game today.
• The Ottawa Senators set an embarrassing franchise record last month, allowing 56 shots in a game to the Ducks. They broke it last night,courtesy of the New York Islanders. All's not lost for this team, but something has to change soon. A shakeup trade seems inevitable.
• The NHLPA is ready to sue the state of Tennessee over what it sees as unfair taxation of salaries earned while playing the Predators. • Damien Cox says that the contract extensions signed by the Sedin Twins yesterday suggests that socialism is alive and well in the NHL. Or, you know, a sense that in a team sport, it's best not to make it all about you.