found himself at the bottom of this pile in a game that was as physical as it was emotional. (Mike Munden/AP)
By Allan Muir
An annotated guide to this morning's must-read hockey stories:
• A chippy, emotional contest between the Rangers and Jackets last night demonstrated that the NHL has unofficially moved into playoff mode.
• A goalmouth fracas revealed Rick Nash in all his scrapping, battling glory. If 61 can bottle up some of that emotion and unleash it down the stretch, the Blueshirts will be tough to beat.
• Here's something you don't see every day: the NHL has apologized to a team for a blown call that may have cost them the game. Good on 'em. It was the right thing to do.
• Bobby Ryan lacks a no-trade clause. Jason Spezza could be tiring of the whipping-boy role. Craig Anderson has a ready understudy in Robin Lehner. With change needed and room for flexibility, could the Ottawa Senators be headed for a massive roster overhaul this summer?
• Patrick Roy went rogue last night in an effort to tie up the game against the Bruins. His bold plan didn't work, but how great is it to see a coach more intent on scoring than worried about being scored upon?
• Ken Campbell lays out the challenging economics facing the Bruins and speculates how they might impact the team's ability to re-sign Jarome Iginla.
• Chuck Gormley says a point earned or lost tonight in San Jose will decide whether or not the Capitals make the playoffs. Pretty bold call there.
• St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock says this team will be a bear in the playoffs. I'd agree. They're going to be a chic pick to go far once everyone starts making their postseason predictions.
• A Penn State player didn't think twice about sacrificing part of his season to save a life. Just an amazing story.
• Minnesota coach Mike Yeo is shaking up his lines in an effort to light a fire under these two players. Amazingly, neither of them is Dany Heatley.
• This guy really seems to be enjoying this Chicago/Carolina scrum.
• Come back, Strombone! All is forgiven!
• What would the NHL standings look like without the tie-breaking magic of the shootout? There'd be a shake-up in the Presidents' Trophy race, for one.
• A few recent wins over league lightweights should not disabuse anyone in Vancouver of the notion that their team is done for the year and is headed for a significant overhaul.
• Anyone else looking forward to a couple games like this this spring?
• The devotion of Winnipeg's fans is the envy of the league. So when will management commit to giving them a team worthy of their love?
• The Leafs may--or may not--get Jonathan Bernier and Dave Bolland back in the lineup tonight, but whenever the duo returns from IR it will be huge.
• Easily the greatest set of goalie pads, ever. So where's the mask?
• Now this is a beautiful moment.