Top Line: Old-school Alex Ovechkin, Dallas Stars avoid fire sale, more links

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The Jets' Bryan Little learned that as goes Alex Ovechkin, so go the Capitals. (Photo by Marianne Helm/Getty Images)

Alex Ovechkin

By Allan Muir

A notated guide to this morning's must-read hockey stories:

• Wait..where's he been all year? Old-school Ovie made a rare appearance in a must-win game against the Jets. No surprise then that Washington came out on top. Convince that guy to show up more often and maybe the Caps will make a race of this yet.

• Want a realistic look at your team's up-to-date chances of making the playoffs?. Check this out. Math is fun.

• An 8-1 loss to the Blackhawks last Saturday put the Dallas Stars were on the verge of a being blown up. Thursday night's 2-0 win over the defending champs shows why it's hard for GM Joe Nieuwendyk to push the plunger.

Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf help the Ducks emerge from the shadow of the mighty Blackhawks.

• Mike Babcock is leaning on Teemu Selanne to provide a little inspiration for struggling rookie Damien Brunner.

• Montreal's Marc Bergevin is the front-runner for NHL GM of the Year honors. But not for the player moves. It's all about the culture change.

• Their coach ain't bad, either. Michel Therrien lit a fire under David Desharnais and P.K. Subban with second-period benchings. As a critic of his hiring last summer, it's time for me to concede. Therrien has pushed all the right buttons this year.

• Here are two crazy numbers that add a little perspective to Martin Brodeur's goal-scoring heroics.

• Winnipeg's goalies climbed up on a soap box and worked themselves into a lather over proposed changes to the size of their equipment. Can't say I blame them. Pekka Rinne isn't happy, either, although I don't think his concern about the record books carries a lot of water.

• In a must-win game against a struggling opponent, the Calgary Flames wet the bed in Nashville. Oh, and that minus-3 effort from Jarome Iginla? Not the sort of performance that enhances a guy's trade value.

• Not sure if losing to the 30th-place Panthers is rock bottom for the New York Rangers, but I don't think you'll hear much bragging in South Florida, although coach Kevin Dineen did reference Chumbawamba, so it's hard to tell.

• Love 'em or hate 'em, you have to hand it to the Conservatives in Ottawa -- they know their constituents. The Canadian government is removing the tariff on foreign-made hockey gear. Which is pretty much all of it.

• Don Brennan breaks down last night's 2-1 Boston win over the Senators. Like Don, I, too, was disappointed that Matt Kassian didn't earn a fighting hat trick.

• The Oilers must find a way to win in these three buildings in order to keep their playoff hopes alive.

Devan Dubnyk has started 11 games in a row for Edmonton. Is it time to give Nikolai Khabibulin a star? The short answer: yes. The long answer: yes, it is.

• The amazing thing about this story isn't the news of Alex Kovalev's retirement. It's the poll that asks if he is Hall of Fame worthy. Not Alex Delvecchio. Alex Kovalev.

• Sean Day, the 15-year-old hockey phenom,  may be the next big thing, but don't expect the Ottawa 67's to take the blueliner first overall in the OHL draft.

• Picked up on waivers for the third time already this season, Zach Boychuk is back where it all started. #Dontunpackyoursuitcasekid

• I missed this one the other day, but it's well worth a read: Dave Stubbs on how the Vezina criteria change diminishes the legacy of the great Glenn Hall.

• Here's another one (hey, it's a really big Internet): Cam Cole on our shared first love, the incomparable Bobby Orr.

• It's never too early to start talking about the World Juniors. Looks like the U.S. is ready to name a coach for the 2014 event. Big name, but a bit of a surprise.

Jarret Stoll? Seriously?