Top Line: Enigmatic Sidney Crosby; Blackhawks' problem; more links
An annotated guide to this morning's must-read hockey stories:
• Dejan Kovacevic doesn't know why it took Sidney Crosby two weeks to show up for the playoffs, but at this point he doesn't care. Game 2 featured an epic performance by the Penguins' captain, who did pretty much everything imaginable to lead the Penguins to a 3-0 win.
• When he's on his game, Kris Letang can be a world-class defenseman. He was that and then some in a dominant performance on Sunday night.
• The deeper into the Stanley Cup playoffs you get, the more the tournament becomes a best-on-best competition. Larry Brooks says that the Rangers stars were non-factors on Sunday night, leading to a very predictable result.
• Chicago let Minnesota dictate the style of play for Sunday's Game 2 ... then beat the Wild anyway.
• He's allowed at least three goals in six straight games, but Ilya Bryzgalov will be the starter for the Wild in Game 3. At this point, what choice do they have beyond hoping he can find a way to shut the door on the Hawks?
• Boston fans stepped forward to praise P.K. Subban and his classy behavior in the wake of last week's ugly events on social media.
• Speaking of classy behavior, Jack Todd would like to see a bit more of it from fans of both Boston and Montreal.
• The Habs are accentuating the positives as they try to get past their ugly Game 2 collapse.
• With blueliner Robyn Regehr injured, Jeff Schultz could draw in for the Los Angeles Kings.
• Here's a concept you won't read every day: Gary Lawless says that this team might be better off if it followed the thinking of Islanders GM Garth Snow.
• The decision to replace Randy Carlyle behind Toronto's bench doesn't have to be made this week, but Damien Cox argues that it should be. I'd agree that firing him now makes sense, but the Leafs might want to wait on his replacement. The available candidates market might improve as the playoffs move on.
• It's already next season for teams like the Predators. Here's a look at five young hopefuls with a chance to crack their lineup.
• Would you know an NHL owner if you bumped into one? John Vogl offers a primer on the men and women who pay the bills for all 30 NHL teams.
• It turns out that Philadelphia goaltender Steve Mason needed the Flyers even more than they needed him.
• The Avalanche took a calculated risk in waiting to re-sign Paul Stastny. After a career year and an excellent playoff performance, it may come back to haunt them.
• It looks like the Sharks will retain their coaching staff--a smart move in my book, despite that epic first-round collapse--but changes have to be made in San Jose. Jim Matheson wonders whether Joe Thornton will be the one to go and asks an interesting question about the team's player usage toward the end of that series.
• Matty also offers his thoughts on the futures of Vincent Lecavalier, Ales Hemsky, Johan Franzen and David Legwand in his This 'n' That column.• Finally, here's an amazing story about a town where every game is a Winter Classic, thanks to the original outdoor showcase in Buffalo back in 2008.