Top Line: Ducks face costly Jonas Hiller decision: KHL All-Star hijinx; more links
An annotated guide to this morning's must-read hockey stories:
• With Jonas Hiller playing the best hockey of his career, the Anaheim Ducks are facing an expensive decision on the future of the pending UFA. The affordable goaltending depth in their system suggests they may look elsewhere after this season, but given his playoff experience, it's hard to believe they'd move him before the postseason. He may just walk away for nothing this summer.
• This is a man wearing a fish head for a shootout attempt at today's KHL All-Star Skills Competition.
• And this man was between the pipes. Let's just go ahead and admit it: They win.
• Jonathan Toews may yet get to wear the C for Team Canada in Sochi, but he won't be wearing his familiar No. 19. Here's a look at Canada's numerical roster, which sees several players losing out on their favorite digits due to seniority.
• Kevin Allen offers 10 second-half predictions, including a hockey medal for America in Sochi, trade deadline activity, and a change to overtime.
• Ken Campbell says new GM Tim Murray needs to clear the decks in Buffalo and start fresh...and that includes taking the bold step to buy out Tyler Myers. Bold, yes...but not a crazy idea at all.
• The Maple Leafs have a history of keeping their coaches on a short leash, but there's no good reason to think about firing Randy Carlyle. As bad as the results have been over the past six weeks, he deserves the chance to make the adjustments needed.
• You call that an outdoor hockey rink? This is an outdoor hockey rink.
• Mike Heika looks to the lyrics of Bruce Springsteen to illustrate the hard times facing the Dallas Stars on their disastrous East Coast road swing. Personally, I would have used the work of New Jersey's greatest songwriter, Glenn Danzig, but I'm sure some of you will appreciate Heika's reference points.
• With Shawn Thornton about to make his return to NHL action tonight--has it been 15 games already?--Amalie Benjamin goes back to the beginning to figure out how exactly he got himself into that mess. Benjamin just stepped onto the Bruins beat this season, and she's made an immediate impact. If you're not regularly reading her work, you should be.
• Randy Miller offers up the names of six players who could providethe scoring help the New Jersey Devils--or pretty much any other interested team--might be able to acquire before the trade deadline.
• Much like L.L. Cool J, Brian Rafalski says don't call it a comeback. His return to hockey isn't necessarily about a return to the NHL.
• The return of Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang to the lineup should have provided a boost for the Penguins. Instead, the Pens have played some dangerous hockey over the past few games, prompting veteran Rob Scuderi to let his teammates have it with both barrels. This is some terrific leadership from Scuderi, and a big part of why he was brought back to the team.• Think Canadian and American fans have reason to be ticked off about Olympic hockey snubs? Check out the talent the Czechs left on the table.