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Top Line: Henrik Lundqvist intrigue; Canada's bold move; more links

The New York Rangers may be trying to tell star goaltender Henrik Lundqvist that no one is expendable. Goalie Henrik Lundqvist's contract may be why the Rangers are giving his backup more work. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

By Allan Muir

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

• Was the decision to play Cam Talbot in goal over Henrik Lundqvist last night another step in the Rangers' hardline approach to contract negotiations with The King? Talbot wasn't particularly good in a 5-2 loss to the Jets, but that was his first wobble of the season. It only makes sense for New York to feed him opportunities this season to see just what he has to offer at this level ... and to remind Lundqvist that no one is irreplaceable.

• Not sure what exactly Rangers GM Glen Sather is doing with his time these days, but apparently he's not negotiating new contracts for Ryan Callahan or Dan Girardi, or working on trading Michael Del Zotto.

• Ilya Kovalchuk told a Russian newspaper that he is happier playing in the KHL than in the NHL, but said that he still follows the Devils closely and hopes that Jaromir Jagr can lead them to the Stanley Cup. Which is nice.

• Canada's four-year gold-medal drought at World Juniors demanded a fresh approach to building the team's roster. The new strategy started at selection camp, which featured fewer players than in years past, all of whom were chosen using a new web of information.

• As usual, Canada won't be icing its best possible lineup, and NHL teams, including the Maple Leafs and the Capitals, are to blame.

• One of the biggest surprises of Canada's selection camp might have been the team's decision to invite just two goalies ... especially since neither netminder boasts eye-popping numbers this season. The other big surprise (for me anyway): the omission of Oilers first-round blueliner Darnell Nurse. There were whispers last week that Hockey Canada was concerned with his adventurous play in the defensive zone, but his physical presence and ability to read and react at top speed would have made him an asset.

• Here's a thumbnail sketch for each player that Hockey Canada invited to camp.

• The only blue streak that Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle wants to be associated with is a for consecutive wins. With HBO's 24/7 cameras arriving in Toronto this week, Carlyle is censoring his language.

• Here's another guy who knows what he's talking about when it comes to the future of Don Cherry.

• There is no way of knowing why Alexander Ovechkin agreed to do this. Just no way.

• A freak injury earned Capitals goalie Michal Neuvirth a place on injured reserve. Of course, in this post-pancakes era, maybe the term "freak injury" shouldn't be tossed around so lightly.

• The latest on a second NHL franchise in the Greater Toronto Area? Let's just say a Markham city council meeting didn't leave David Shoalts full of optimism about the prospects for a new arena.

• The pick-up sticks approach used by Senators coach Paul MacLean to give his roster a lift illustrates how desperate the situation has become in Ottawa.

• If there is a zone in which confident goal scorers reside, Alex Burrows is now in the place farthest from it. When the Canucks agreed to pay him $6 million this season, they were expecting a better return on their investment than zero goals through his first 17 games.

Tim Thomas may "compete like no one else" in the eyes of Panthers GM Dale Tallon, but the veteran goalie must raise his game if he wants play for Team USA in Sochi. Thomas gave up four goals on 13 shots to U.S. coach Dan Bylsma's Penguins on Saturday. That probably didn't help his chances much.

Ed Jovanovski's not yet ready to return to Florida's lineup, but he's still found a way to make himself useful. A hint of what we might expect from the former top pick after his playing days are over, perhaps?

• John Vogl has a great story explaining how the young Sabres are learning to make an impact in the community as well as on the ice.

• The NHL works tirelessly to improve the consistency of its officiating, but given the inherent imperfection of judgment calls, Mark Spector says the time has come to explore adding video review to enhance the effectiveness of the zebras. The concern is that replay reviews will slow the game to a halt, but there should be an option that allows for occasionally consulting video to ensure the best possible results.

Ilya Bryzgalov started all three games during Edmonton's recent road trip. Devan Dubnyk considers himself the team's No. 1 stopper. Both goalies could be gone before the end of the season ... assuming there are takers for the pending UFAs, of course.

• Here's an update on the Semyon Varlamov situation, including how it might affect his ability to play for Russia in Sochi.

• Please enjoy all of George Malik's Red Wings-themed potpourri column this morning. But if you're prone skimming, be sure to pay attention to the shocking Olympic conspiracy theory at the end. It's clear now that none of our nefarious schemes will elude the watchful eyes of the Russian media.

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