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Top Line: NHL's underrated postseason players; Penguins in danger; more links

Marcus Kruger of the Chicago Blackhawks is one of the NHL's most underrated postseason players. If the Blackhawks' are to stage a comeback, they'll need a spark from Marcus Kruger (16). (Charles Cherney/AP)

By Allan Muir

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

• Nate Greenberg breaks out the charts and graphs to reveal the five most underrated players in the NHL playoffs.

• Forget the complaints about Rob Scuderi and Kris Letang and Dan Bylsma. The Penguins can live with their occasional brain cramps. What they can't survive without are premium efforts from Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. And Dejan Kovacevic says that Pittsburgh can't wait much longer for their A-games to arrive.

• Not that the Avalanche have missed him while Nathan MacKinnon has been running wild, but Matt Duchene is one step closer to returning to the Colorado lineup.

• Speaking of MacKinnon, the Wild might try to Cooke the Colorado kid in Game 3.

Will David Backes play in Game 3 against the Blackhawks? And if he can't go, what will it mean to the Blues?

• The Stars went 10-2-1 at home down the stretch. Now they need some more home cooking to stay alive.

• The Sharks' offensive outburst is the lead story of San Jose's 7-2 win over the Kings, but the underlying theme was San Jose's resilience in the face of an early 2-0 deficit.

• The Red Wings might be able to outskate the Bruins, but they sure don't measure up in scrums.

• Jason Kay wonders what would have happened if Zdeno Chara and Brendan Smith had fought.

• Nice of Brendan to step up and all, but if a Smith brother is going to take on Chara, it should probably be Rory. Stick tap to Bob McKenzie for pointing this out.

• The Rangers all said that their series with the Flyers would be hard, but their play suggests that they didn't mean it.

• Craig Berube chose to believe in Jason Akeson rather than bench him after his penalties cost the Flyers Game 1. The rookie rewarded his coach's faith.

• It's not that the Canadiens didn't deserve their Game 3 win, but the Lightning sure aren't catching many breaks. The goaltender interference call that negated Tampa Bay's potential go-ahead goal was a particularly tough one to swallow. Carey Price did a good job selling it, though.

• That game in Montreal was pretty good, but it was nothin' compared to the light show that led into it:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m7DNau3UBqQ

• How about this gesture from Barry Trotz?

You stay classy, R Bar!

 
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