Top Line: Bryzgalov comes back beeg; epic national anthem fail; more links
By Allan Muir An annotated guide to this morning's must-read hockey stories: • The always cosmic Ilya Bryzgalov looked stellar in his first start for the Oilers, making 33 stops as Edmonton shut out the Predators, 3-0. Don't look now, but the Oilers have won four-of-five and they're starting to get the one thing they've lacked all year: decent goaltending. • We've all seen national anthem fails before, but rarely one quite like this effort from the Subway Series game between the WHL and Russia. I'm guessing that there aren't a lot of people in Lethbridge, Alberta who can sing the Russian national anthem, but target="_blank">O Canada? To his credit, he didn't include any lyrics from America The Beautiful...
• Then again, O Canada flubs seem to be contagious. On Wednesday night, the Islanders' anthem singer substituted some lyrics, for which she has offered an apology.• They could never do this in a game that counts in the standings, but Roy MacGregor's idea for celebrating the true heritage of the sport at the Heritage Classic would make for a brilliant exhibition contest, wouldn't it? • The Calgary Flames are setting an example that every team should follow. The paying public deserves this much. • Kelly Hrudey offers up a list of the 10 best goalies in each conference. Nice to see the name at the top of the pile in the East. Have to believe that if this netminder keeps it up he could work his way into the mix for a role in Sochi, even if it is only as a No. 3. • Luck has been on Patrick Kane's side as he has run up a personal best scoring streak. Will he have it tonight in Dallas as he tries to stretch it to 13? • Alex Steen isn't the only St. Louis Blues forward who is off to the best start of his career. If this other guy is still going well, Team USA looks a lot more dangerous down the middle. • There might be a little bad blood this afternoon when the Blues visit San Jose. Expect the Sharks to have Max Lapierre in their sights today. • Is this the best defensive pairing in the NHL? I'll say this much--the last two guys who earned steady time along with the veteran in this duo made out like bandits in free agency, but never quite reached the same level of play without him. • A couple of youngsters are helping the Red Wings adjust to life without Pavel Datsyuk. • Toronto mayor Rob Ford has said he plans to attend the Winter Classic in Ann Arbor. The problem is, the U.S. might not let him in. Yeah, it's kind of a marginal hockey story, but there's always some entertainment value when Ford is involved. • Eight years after winning the Rocket Richard Trophy, Jonathan Cheechoo is tearing it up in the KHL for Medvescak Zagreb. Here's Cheechoo's take on getting paid, life in Croatia and what it's like playing with Joe Thornton. • If you don't yet know the name of Sonny Milano, you will soon. The USNTDP product looks like a legitimate first rounder for the 2014 NHL draft. Here's a look at his game, and an amazing self-shot commercial he did for Bauer skates. Just a reminder that it doesn't matter how talented you are, you have to put in the work. • Dave Molinari says that even though his numbers are down, Pascal Dupuis is providing great value for the money with his two-way play. That seems like a pretty sunny read on the situation to me. No doubt they appreciate this efforts away from the puck, but the Pens aren't paying him nearly $4 million to score at a 10-goal pace. Dupuis is getting his chances. He needs to start finishing a few of them off. • The timing might have been a little better for this NHL.com report on Tuukka Rask, but the point is accurate. There's more to his sensational season than simply playing behind Boston's smothering defense. • Apparently the training conditions for Russian athletes target="_blank">have really deteriorated. • Finally, a non-hockey note: The Russians have worked in some crazy bits during the Olympic torch relay--It's on a nuclear submarine! It's in space!--but this is going to be the moment everyone remembers.