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Top Line: Ducks-Kings ready to rumble; Sad Joe; Bruins play cute; more links

By Allan Muir

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

• The Freeway Series marks the first-ever playoff meeting between the Ducks and Kings. The two teams, and their fan bases, already have an intense dislike of one another, but this is going to give it the Nigel Tufnel "these go to 11" treatment. Should be the best series of the second round.

Joe Thornton's mournful dissection of San Jose's Game 7 failure tops this list of the 10 saddest interviews in sports.

Carey Price looked like a modern-day Ken Dryden as the Canadiens gutted out a Game 1 win over the Bruins in double overtime. For all the criticism Price has faced in the past, this season looks like complete vindication of the team's faith in him. He was the difference when the team needed him to be.

• Stephen Harris says wasted chances cost Boston the opener. Too many opportunities went for naught as the B's got too cute with the puck in Montreal's zone. As the recycling hippie told Homer in The Simpsons, "Simplify, man!"

• Adam Kaufman says the Bruins must make one lineup change before Saturday's Game 2.

• Improved scoring depth is one of five reasons why the Wild will put up a better fight against the Blackhawks in the playoffs this year. Not how they'll beat them, just put up a better fight.

• The Hawks aren't using Corsi or Fenwick but they are crunching their own set of numbers. And Mark Lazerus says it's part of the reason for their success.

• The heat is building on Rick Nash and Sidney Crosby to start burying some pucks as the Rangers and Penguins face-off tonight. Because hey, having good advanced numbers only gets you so far at this time of year.

• Dejan Kovacevic says the schedule favors the home team as the Pens get set to host a tired Rangers squad. It's definitely an asset that Pittsburgh needs to exploit early in the series.

• The Rangers have a few angles to exploit as well, including superiority between the pipes.

• It's been three months since the Penguins last saw the Rangers. They might not recognize the team they meet in Game 1.

• Sounds like Mike Babcock is willing to be flexible in terms of how his coaching future plays out in Detroit. It'll be interesting to see how this is handled given that he has one year left on his deal and the Wings have a rising star in Grand Rapids coach Jeff Blashill. That's an asset the organization doesn't want to lose for nothing.

Tampa Bay forward Ryan Malone appeared in court to answer to DUI and drug possession charges.

• Trevor Linden did what he had to do in firing John Tortorella. This was a chemistry experiment gone awry from the beginning.

• Ben Kuzma lists 11 possible replacements for Tortorella in Vancouver. A couple of interesting long shots here.

Jaroslav Halak's agent says the goaltender is interested in signing with the Islanders after his rights were acquired by the team in a trade on Thursday. Which shows that Halak understands the music is about to stop and there aren't many available chairs.

• Does the Halak acquisition hint at what the Isles plan to do with their top pick this year? They owe the Sabres a first rounder in 2014 or 2015, and this deal strongly suggests that GM Garth Snow has a plan in mind.

• Skip past about 20 column inches of NBA blather to learn just how close the Coyotes came to moving to Seattle last summer. Amazing.

• Is 14-year-old Stelio Mattheos the next big thing? The first overall pick in yesterday's WHL draft is already generating some serious buzz. So is third rounder Max Gildon, the latest hot shot prospect to emerge from the fertile Dallas market.

• While two of the largest markets in the WHL are meeting in the finals for the third consecutive season, the battle between Baie-Comeau Drakkar and Val-d’Or Foreurs for the QMJHL title is a victory for small market teams in the CHL.

• Hey, why wouldn't you want an iPhone case made out of broken hockey sticks?

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