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Top Line: Is speed killing hockey?; fight ban plan; more links

The speed of the NHL game may now be making most hits potentially dangerous. The speed of the NHL game may be making too many hits potentially dangerous. (Michael Tureski/Icon SMI)

By Sarah Kwak

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

• The seemingly daily drip of questionable, dangerous hits has some people seriously wondering if the game is now too fast, and if all-around speed is actually neutering the very best parts of hockey.

• Are suspensions of players really enough t stop the carnage? Judging by the continued stream of bans, maybe not. Perhaps, says Vancouver Sun columnist Cam Cole, it's time to punish coaches too.

Penguins defenseman Deryk Engelland will sit out five games for his hit on Detroit's Justin Abdelkader, yet another blow to Pittsburgh's depleted blueline corps.

Capitals rookie Tom Wilson will speak with the Department of Player Safety today about his wrecking ball treatment of Philadelphia's Brayden Schenn.

• Fighting continues to be a hot topic in hockey circles, and now USA Hockey will consider a plan to ban all fighting from Junior-A, the only amateur level that permits it.

• In the NHL, some people, including Coyotes tough guy Paul Bissonnette, think the league might start leaning in the direction of an all-out ban. "I think it will end up going down to, if you fight once, you’re out of the game," he said. "And if it comes to that, there’s really no point in having a guy in the lineup that’s just going to fight once and be out."

• Much of the fighting debate has been spurred by the better awareness around the dangers of concussions. So what exactly happens to the brain after a concussion? The New York Times explains.

• The Kings won't rush goalie Jonathan Quick back from his groin injury. He could be ready the first week of the year, but easing him back may take more time. And why would they? Backups Ben Scrivens and rookie Martin Jones have played superbly in Quick's absence. In six starts, Jones is 6-0-0, but Quick's return will likely force GM Dean Lombardi into a roster decision.

• And now, an installment of Random Thoughts from Kings coach Darryl Sutter: "Still, it amazes me that’s what they call it–the penalty box. Like, what is that, the ‘penalty box?’ They should take the penalty box out, because you think about how much time there actually is sitting in the penalty box now, it’s about 12 minutes total a game, right? 12 minutes ... They should sell those seats ... there are so few penalties now ... They’re the best seats in the house, right at center ice. Like, if it was a football game, then that’s the best seat. I don’t get that [any] more."

• Olympic roster announcements are a mere two weeks away, and Avalanche center Matt Duchene is making his case to be included. In front of Team Canada's GM Steve Yzerman, who was scouting the Colorado-Dallas home-and-home series (Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn have turned heads, too), Duchene scored four goals in two games.

• Speaking of Team Canada, the Maple Leafs won't let Morgan Rielly play at the World Juniors this year, so Canada's blueline will lean heavily on Wild defenseman Matt Dumba.

• New Jersey winger Jaromir Jagr scored his 693rd career goal, passing Yzerman into eighth on the NHL's all-time scoring list. The goal was also Jagr's 122nd game-winner, now the league record.

• After two seasons of overachieving, the Senators are slowly sinking into the mire of mediocrity. Ottawa is 14-16-6 and giving up the third-most goals in the league. Their struggles came to head last night in a lackluster 5-2 effort against the Devils in Newark, where after the game, management closed the doors and had a frank talk with the players.

• The St. Louis Blues agreed to terms with their leading scorer, Alexander Steen, on a three-year extension, which will pay the forward $17.4 million. With 36 points in 33 games, the 29-year-old Steen is on pace to shatter his previous season high of 51 points.

• Getting used to the great outdoors, the Red Wings, who will host Toronto in the Winter Classic on Jan. 1 in Ann Arbor, practiced at Comerica Park in Detroit Wednesday.

• Meanwhile, north of the border in Maple Leaf territory, things are beginning to go off the rails. The team is 4-9-2 in its last 15 games. Is it time to panic yet? The Toronto media, at least, are beginning to use the c-word.
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