Top Line: Golden age for Blackhawks fans; advanced stats are lies; more links
An annotated guide to this morning's must-read hockey stories:
• Chicago's fans no longer worry about untelevised games or penny-pinching owners or incompetent coaches. In this golden age of Blackhawks hockey, where fourth liners are debated ad nauseum, theirs are the problems of the one percent.
• Rob Tychkowski examines how Chicago and the Kings have become the NHL's model franchises.
• Steve Simmons takes down the advanced statistical analysis trend, eviscerating the zealotry and the "small sample size" defense while pondering the possibility of numbers that might be more valuable in understanding the game. It's going to make some of you crazy ... and that's exactly why you should read it.
• Dave Feschuk agrees, writing that while the Canadiens and the Rangers have gone on opportunistic runs, the Blackhawks and L.A. have ruled hockey for half a decade.
• Cathal Kelly writes that Henrik Lundqvist has more than good looks and a great tailor going for him. He is the face hockey would like to present to the unhockeyfied world.
• P.K. Subban says that Lundqvist has been lucky against the Habs. Mmmmkay.
• For New York, it's better-late-than-never for the arrival of Rick Nash's scoring touch.
• Mike Zeisberger looks at Ryan McDonagh's impact and at Montreal's likely starter in his pre-Game 3 notes package.
• Michel Therrien is doing a good job convincing himself, if not others, that his Canadiens have a surprise in store for the Rangers in Game 3.
• Is Thomas Vanek so worried about being injured ahead of free agency that he's removed himself from the series against New York?
• The Canucks Army blog decided to have a little fun with Vancouver's spotty draft record by conducting a goofy (and kind of loaded) experiment to see what might have happened if the team's picks had been made by someone who did no scouting at all. The resulting talent pool would have been amazing.
• The Ducks need a second-line center who wins face-offs and makes a difference on special teams. The Canucks need an infusion of youth. Can we get these two together and get a deal done for Ryan Kesler?
• Mario Lemieux walked away from hockey in part because of his frustration with the way the game was being played. John Steigerwald argues that Sidney Crosby has every reason to follow his lead.
• Ryan Miller to the Sharks? Don't count on it, says David Pollack.
• Should the Bruins bring back Jarome Iginla next season? Cam Neely says...
• Wayne Gretzky as the president of the Islanders? Adam Proteau says that it could happen. And he seems to think it would be a good thing.
• From Minsk, Nathan MacKinnon talks about his whirlwind rookie season as Team Canada gets set to enter medal-round play at the World Championship.
• A two-on-oh. An empty net. What could possibly go worng...
• Former NHL defenseman Brian Rafalski says life as a pro athlete almost cost him everything.
• A hockey dad has designed a new concussion-proof helmet that looks like a hairy head. But there's a perfectly good reason for that.
• The Val D'Or Foreurs broke with hockey tradition on the way to a double-OT win over Edmonton and a berth in the Memorial Cup semi-final. • The Guelph Storm decimated their future with the deal for Kerby Rychel and Nick Ebert, but the addition of the two junior stars has made them unstoppable in their quest for the Memorial Cup.