are down, but Ryan Miller
's game has risen to its former Olympic level. (Keith Hamilton/Icon SMI)
By John Rolfe
An annotated guide to this morning's must-read hockey stories:
• Time has likely run out for a bunch of players who are hoping to make Team USA's Olympic roster, but Ryan Miller has locked down a spot and, if the Sabres don't trade him, he could end up making NHL goaltending history.
• Kings netminder Jonathan Quick is closing in on his return from a groin injury, just in time to secure his place on Team USA.
• Things are looking good for Detroit's Jimmy Howard, too.
• Jim Matheson thinks Team USA can easily take on that golden glow.
• Claude Giroux's season started horribly with a freak injury, followed by a horrendous slump through his first 15 games. The Flyers followed suit at 4-10-1. But their captain has turned it around and so has the team. Giroux now has his sights set on making good on his vow of a postseason berth for Philly ... and earning a spot on Team Canada in Sochi.
• Eric Duhatschek says Team Canada GM Steve Yzerman is facing a crunch of his own, trying to figure out how to make room for 14 worthy forwards on his 25-man roster without leaving himself open to second guessing.
• Life has been all right for Alex Ovechkin since his position switch, but Capitals coach Adam Oates thinks Russia will move the sniper back to left wing in Sochi.
• You can expect the production for Wednesday's Winter Classic in Ann Arbor, Mich., to be almost as big as The Big House itself. And if you like a little snow with your hockey, Mother Nature may just cooperate. Sunshine, on the other hand, is proving to be the bane of outdoor games.
• The Red Wings' and Maple Leafs' goalies will be decked out in special gear for the big game ... and all four are hoping they get a chance to show it off. Only two netminders can start, of course, and Toronto's Jonathan Bernier looks like a good bet.
• The NHL may be in danger of overdoing it with outdoor games, but Tal Pinchevsky says the trend has helped a new generation discover the joys of playing on frozen ponds.
• After routing Germany, 8-0 on Sunday, Team USA is on track to clinch the top spot in Group A at the World Junior Championship. Having a little NHL experience on the roster hasn't hurt the Americans.
• A loss to the Czech Republic on Saturday, coupled with the victory by the U.S., put Canada in the tough position of needing regulation-time victories over Slovakia today and Team USA on Tuesday to finish first in Group A. Toward that end, Team Canada coach Brent Sutter is making a change in net, and is keeping the faith in 16-year-old phenom Connor McDavid.
• Speaking of the WJC: In case you missed it on Saturday, here's one of the more entertaining goal calls you'll ever hear, and you don't even have to speak Czech to appreciate it.
• It was a long time coming for Sharks forward Bracken Kearns, who finally scored his first NHL goal at the ripe old age of 32 to help San Jose snap the Ducks' 10-game win streak.
• The Wild's death spiral continued with a loss to the woeful Islanders that left coach Mike Yeo at a loss for words. Mike Russo says the scary thing is that no one in the room has a clue about how to fix what's wrong with the team.
• The inimitable Adrian Dater says the skidding Avalanche will be looking forward to their next meeting with the Jets after Winnipeg defenseman Dustin Byfuglien delivered a cheap shot to goalie Semyon Varlamov during Colorado's loss in overtime on Sunday.
• Avs coach Patrick Roy was already in a bad mood because of his beef with the NHL's schedule-maker.
• Are the Maple Leafs about to overpay defenseman Dion Phaneuf? Damien Cox argues that Toronto GM Dave Nonis does not have much choice.
• Sean Gentille of The Sporting News
tweeted that just when you think the Maple Leafs have bottomed out, this happens