An annotated guide to this morning's must-read hockey stories:
• It wasn't so much that the Maple Leafs' losing streak reached six games on Wednesday night as it was that their effort has Toronto's fans asking some tough questions about the way the team was built and is being coached.
• How bad was it? Blues coach Ken Hitchcock says that his team should have scored 10 goals.
• Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle made a critical mistake late that may have cost his team the game. Steve Simmons says that Carlyle's decision was inexcusable.
• The Rangers say that Chris Kreider will miss tonight's game against the Flyers, but there's speculation that a hand injury will force him to miss a month or more. A tough break if true for the Blueshirts, a team that's fighting for its playoff life, and a good reminder to keep your palms in when blocking shots.
• Philadelphia made a bold decision by letting Danny Briere skate off as a free agent last summer in favor of signing Vincent Lecavalier. So far, Briere has done nothing to make the Flyers regret that part of the deal, but they're still waiting for Lecavalier to pay dividends.
• The TSN panel talked about the futures of free agents Ryan Miller, Thomas Vanek and Jarome Iginla on last night's broadcast. Good stuff there, but the most interesting reveal was the league's plan to hold an officiating combine this summer. That element of the game has come under considerable (and justifiable) scrutiny over the past couple of weeks, so the timing of this news leak is probably not coincidental.
• Remember the road domination that powered the Kings' run to the Stanley Cup in 2012? Yeah, they're at it again.
• A segment of Jets fans took captain Andrew Ladd to task for missing Monday night's game in Dallas due to the birth of his child. Apparently, these fans forget that Ladd is not just an athlete but also a human being who should be allowed to deal with major life events like everyone else. Ridiculous.
• Is a preoccupation with past glories keeping the Oilers from achieving success?
• If you're an advanced stats wonk, you might want to check out this Livestream lecture from the University of Alberta today.
• Philly prospect Anthony Stolarz is likely to be sitting a long time after this brutal slash on 2014 first-round prospect Josh Ho-Sang:
• That wasn't the only, or even the most serious, incident from that OHL playoff tilt. Let's just remember this is a kid in a tough spot, and given all that's happened recently, maybe we need to wrap an arm around his shoulders rather than rip him to shreds.
• Some nice reporting here from Ken Campbell, who takes an in-depth look at the days leading up to the death of Terry Trafford, along with the troubling aftermath.
• We're barely a month out of Sochi but one national team is already gearing up for 2018.
• Justin Bourne takes a look back at the singular genius of Scotty Bowman, and what can be learned from the way he coached the game. • Finally, our condolences to the family of Blackhawks beat writer Tim Sassone, who passed away on Tuesday after a long illness.