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Top Line: Buffalo Sabres facing big change; Crosby's slump; more links

Zemgus Girgensons of the Buffalo Sabres With a new coach, Zemgus Girgensons and the Sabres will now try to put their painful start behind them. (Mark J. Terrill/AP)

By Allan Muir

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

• Bucky Gleason writes that the biggest challenge facing Pat Lafontaine and Ted Nolan will be rebuilding the bridges burned during Darcy Regier's 16-year reign of error with the Buffalo Sabres.

• It didn't take long for Buffalo's players to find out exactly what to expect from new coach Ted Nolan.

Zemgus Girgensons was going to be playing for Nolan this season one way or another.

• Mike Halford looks at some potential candidates for Buffalo's vacant GM job. I'd add Philly assistant Ron Hextall to the list.

Sidney Crosby has gone seven games without a goal. For Evgeni Malkin, his slump has reached 10. Is it time to worry in Pittsburgh?

Nazem Kadri is at his best when his game has a bit of and edge to it, but he took it too far against the Wild on Wednesday night. The Leafs can ill afford to lose another center right now, but it looks like Kadri could be sitting for a couple of games after earning a match penalty for attempting to injure Mikael Granlund.

• Kadri's mental lapse is symptomatic of a Toronto team that seems hellbent on making life difficult for itself.

• Just when you think they can't get any worse, the Oilers find a way to surprise you. At least the fans at Rexall got to see their heroes set a new franchise record last night, eh?

• Is it time to fire head coach Dallas Eakins?

• Mike Heika carries on a conversation with a statue and discovers that the sorry state of these Oilers might be instructive to the Dallas Stars.

• While the Oilers are finding new ways to soil themselves each night, their old rivals in Calgary are piling up the losses, too. But, as Mark Spector explains, the Flames are losing the right way, and that's allowing them to establish a foundation for future success.

• Several Bruins weigh in on the concept of changing the overtime format. The take from Milan Lucic, who has some experience with three-on-three OT, is particularly interesting.

• Boston is taking a kinder, gentler approach to addressing the learning curve errors made by promising rookie Torey Krug.

• Don't look now, but the Flyers have won three in a row. That's nice, but no big deal, says coach Craig Berube.

• David Ebner breaks down how the NHL's best penalty kill is getting the job done. Interesting stuff.

• Ken Weibe grades out the Winnipeg Jets as they hit the quarter pole (yes, racing fans, I know that means something different in your sport). I'm not sure these marks are going to cut it.

• A former first overall pick helped the FBI corner a pair of con men accused of swindling millions from hockey players and cops. Just a guess, but I'll say most of the money was lost by the players.

• The Rangers could have Rick Nash back their lineup within a week now that the concussion-plagued winger is reported to be symptom free. He skated for the first time on Wednesday, but will need some time to get his conditioning up to speed.

• Rich Chere credits a pair of 40-year-olds for the recent turnaround in New Jersey. That bodes well for the future, doesn't it?

Marian Gaborik is mired in a seven-game slump, but it's not just his inability to score that has the Blue Jackets worried.

• Josh Cooper explains what the Predators do to fend off boredom on long road trips.

• The Preds might soon be spending some of their downtime welcoming a new teammate into the fold if one hot trade rumor comes to pass.

• After a rough start, third stringer Justin Peters is proving that he can help the Hurricanes win games. He's their only real option for the next while, so his 3-0-1 stretch is allowing Carolina to avoid the sort of Band-Aid swap that the Preds are considering.

• Not sure what this says about the dating market, but People Magazine thinks it's a big deal that this ex-player has pulled himself out of the pool.

• There's nothing quite like a Twitter war between a goalie and a pop singer to spice up the evening...especially a pop star who thinks she knows more about hockey than the player.

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