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Top Line: A lot on the line for Rangers; Wild hatchet man returns; more links

Rick Nash of the New York Rangers Goalless Rick Nash has hardly lived up to his billing or contract since arriving in New York in 2012. (Getty Images)

By Allan Muir

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

• Rick Nash is one of several New York Rangers who will be skating for their Broadway careers in tonight's Game 5 vs. Pittsburgh. Larry Brooks looks at options for how to deal with the stumbling winger and how that fits in with the fates of Brad Richards, Derek Stepan, and others.

• It's not the pitiful power play or the struggles of Nash and Martin St. Louis that are to blame for the Rangers' predicament. The problem there is the same as it always is: the leadership of GM Glen Sather.

• Remember Scott Howson? Wonder how he's feeling these days about trading Rick Nash?

Due to the death of his mother, St. Louis likely won't be in the lineup for New York tonight. Our condolences to Martin and his family.

Penguins bench boss Dan Bylsma says this player is one of the smartest he's ever coached.

Matt Cooke may have earned every minute of his seven-game suspension but that doesn't mean he hasn't changed his ways.

Nino Niederreiter endured a crisis of confidence on the way to becoming a Stanley Cup playoffs hero for the Minnesota Wild.

• Chip Scoggins says the Wild overcame a mental hurdle by winning Game 3. Tonight, they either build on, or demolish, that progress.

The popularity of the Blackhawks is at an all-time high in Chicago, where the team now trails only the Bears in terms of fan devotion.

• Is it time to worry yet about Patrick Sharp?

• Sure, they've made a few bad calls along the way, but NHL officials are not out to get your team. Even as someone who has complained about a mistake or two along the way, I'm right there with Mike Brophy on this. Every official is motivated to last as long in the playoffs as he can, and the only way to make it to the Stanley Cup Final is to be the best every step of the way. Blown calls come with the territory, and no one feels worse about them when they happen then the guy in the stripes.

• Don Cherry points out an example of some quality officiating and gets it right, as he always does when it comes to player safety, on last night's Coach's Corner:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=92qRMtAs4MQ

• In a matter of hours, Matt Fraser went from eating at Chipotle to scoring the kind of goal that every kid dreams about. I'm guessing that he won't have to pay for a double-chicken burrito in Boston anytime soon after becoming the overtime hero in the Bruins' Game 4 win over the Habs.

• The Bruins finally exploited the match-up they'd hoped to on the way to last night's victory.

• Despite the loss, Habs coach Michel Therrien saw plenty that he liked in Montreal's efforts.

• The Anahem Ducks got a boost from an old winger and a cold goalie as they climbed back into their series with the Kings.

• Here's a well-measured take on the Randy Carlyle contract extension from David Shoalts, who believes the timing of Brendan Shanahan's hiring forced the retention of the embattled coach.

• Chris Johnston says Carlyle's extension doesn't mean he'll be around that much longer in Toronto. It just means he'll get a larger severance when he inevitably moves along.

• Don't expect Ron Hextall to ship any kids out of town in an effort to quick-fix the Flyers. He says developing Philadelphia's prospects will be his top priority as Philly's new GM.

Team Canada will try to follow its Sochi Olympics blueprint as it challenges for the World Championship, which gets underway today in Minsk.

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