Top Line: Heat's on Kings in Game 5; Fallon working Blueshirts; more links
An annotated guide to this morning's must-read hockey stories:
• Tonight's Stanley Cup Final Game 5 will be one for the record books no matter how it plays out.
• The Los Angeles Kings still have three chances to win their fourth game of the Cup final, but the pressure is on to get the job done tonight.
• Lessons learned from the Kings' Game 4 loss could pave the way to victory for Los Angeles.
• The road warrior mentality has benefited the Blueshirts all year, writes Peter Botte. They posted a better record away from Manhattan during the regular season and rang up several key wins in the first three rounds of the playoffs. Now it's time to prove they can do it again in the Stanley Cup Final.
• If L.A. closes out the series tonight, it's a sure thing that a King will skate away with some additional hardware. Steve Simmons makes the case for the five leading candidates to take home the Conn Smythe Trophy. In my book, it's Drew Doughty all the way.
• The effort has been there from Rick Nash, but with their playoff lives on the line, the Rangers need some goals from him for a change in Game 5. And Nash is the first one to admit it.
• Meet Pat Donahue, Jr., the man whose lively wit and playful tone powers the hilarious Twitter account of the Los Angeles Kings.
• Brad Richards may be taking his demotion to the fourth line like a champ, but this about more than the Stanley Cup Final. By losing coach Alain Vigneault's faith, Richards has all but ended his time in New York.
• I don't know if Jimmy Fallon is a legit Rangers fan or his recent attention to the team is just marketing synergy, but here he is again devoting part of his monologue to the Blueshirts.
• Could the Bruins and Sharks really be on the verge of a deal that would send Brad Marchand to San Jose in exchange for Patrick Marleau? I think I can sum up the reaction of both fan bases to that possibility in one word: yuck.
• This is all kinds of awesome: Jason Karmanos spent 15 seasons as the assistant general manager in Carolina until he was fired by his father, Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos, over what was described as "a family matter." Now, Jason has resurfaced as the AGM in Pittsburgh to work with another man his father may or may not have wronged: Jim Rutherford. Probably a good bet those two teams won't be doing any deals any time soon.
• Martin Brodeur talks about his final season and the likelihood that it will be played out somewhere other than New Jersey. Glad he's come to terms with it because I'm not sure I'm ready to accept that idea just yet.
• It's a big day for the advanced stats crowd. The Devils have hired a former pro poker player as their new director of analytics.
• Bruce Garrioch explains the factors behind another sorry breakup in Ottawa. Jason Spezza may have his own reasons for wanting out, but it's just another case of the Senators driving away one of their best players.
• The Edmonton Oilers have called a press conference for Friday to announce a significant front-office hire. This might finally be the moment where the rubber meets the road for this hopelessly mismanaged team.
• According to TSN's viewers, Detroit's Tomas Tatar pulled off the play of the year.
• The Dallas Stars are likely to lose one of their most promising employees. And they're perfectly fine with that.
• Adam Proteau offers his thoughts on Team Canada's Charline Labonte, and why being gay-positive in hockey and in life is so important.