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Top Line: Small rules change, big impact; Cup pretenders; more links

Columbus Blue Jackets vs. Chicago Blackhawks face-off Breaking face-off rules could become a lot more costly next season. (Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)

By Allan Muir

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

• Stephen Whyno explains how small changes in the face-off circle could have big implications for the game next season.

• As long as management is free of accountability in New York and Philadelphia, the Rangers and the Flyers will continue to be outliers in the race for the Stanley Cup.

• Whatever hopes the Canucks had of cashing in big on Ryan Kesler took a serious hit when the veteran center injured his knee this week. With just 14 games left, there's a chance that he won't get back on the ice this season, and that crushes his trade value ahead of the draft.

Maple Leafs netminders Jonathan Bernier and James Reimer combined to rob the Kings' Anze Kopitar three times last night. However, the first theft could be devastating to Toronto's playoff chances.

Rich Peverley was swarmed by his teammates when he made a surprise visit to the Stars' practice yesterday. No one was happier to see him than Alex Chiasson.

• It was good news all around in Dallas yesterday as starting goalie Kari Lehtonen skated at practice and is close to being cleared to play by doctors after suffering a concussion last Saturday night.

• A year from now, we may look back at the Hockey Night In Canada personnel shakeup and declare Ron MacLean the big winner. Bill Brioux explains.

• Is there a place on the new Rogers broadcast for the most polarizing voice in hockey?

Teemu Pulkkinen is set to make his NHL debut for the Red Wings tonight. Scouts have raved about his Al Iafrate-caliber slapper for years. It'll be interesting to see how it looks against the world's best goalies.

A youth hockey program in Israel is breaking barriers by drawing in athletes from diverse religious backgrounds. A select group has traveled to Washington to train with former NHL players and Olympians.

• There are rumors that former first-overall pick Nail Yakupov is up for grabs. Sure, he's having a disappointing season, but that, as David Staples explains, makes this summer a lousy time to trade him.

• Most teams avoid starting the same goalie in back-to-back contests. The Bruins would be crazy not to.

Jaromir Jagr's agent says "there's a really great chance" that the veteran winger could be back with the Devils next season.

• If New Jersey vs. Florida doesn't move the needle for you, maybe Cory Schneider vs. Roberto Luongo will do it.

Alex Ovechkin entered a raffle ... to meet Alex Ovechkin.

Michal Neuvirth has stopped 94 of the 99 shots he's faced since joining the Sabres last week. This is what he has to show for it.

• Feel like you're getting ripped off when you buy a beer at your local arena? Be glad you haven't been picking up rounds at Idaho Steelhead games. Unless, of course, you're reading this in Idaho, in which case you really did get ripped off.

• The third time was the charm for Team USA, which finally beat Canada in Sochi and now faces Russia for Paralympic gold.

• Willy Palov explains why superprosect Jack Eichel will never play against Connor McDavid in the OHL.

• Paralyzed high school hockey player Jack Jablonski will have a famous date for his senior prom.
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