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Top Line: Bombings cause Olympic jitters; NHL trade rumors, more links


Suicide bombings of a trolleybus and a train station in Volograd, Russia, killed 34 people. (Denis Tyrin/AP Photos)

An ambulance leaves the site of a trolleybus explosion in Volgograd, Russia, Monday, Dec. 30, 2013. The explosion left 10 people dead Monday, a day after a suicide bombing that killed at least 17 at the city's main railway. The explosions put the city on edge and highlighted the terrorist threat that Russia is facing as it prepares to host the Winter Games in February. Volgograd is about 650 kilometers (400 miles) northeast of Sochi, where the Olympics are to be held. (AP Photo/Denis Tyrin)

By Allan Muir

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

• Suicide bombings last week in Russia have potential Olympians on edge with the opening of the Sochi Games a little more than a month away.  Alex Ovechkin, though, has faith in the ability of Russian authorities to keep athletes safe. He's probably right, but the problem is that athletes aren't likely to be the targets in Sochi.

• Are James Reimer and Braden Holtby two of Canada's three most qualified goalies heading into Sochi? That's exactly what these fancystats suggest. I'm sure Steve Yzerman and the rest of the Hockey Canada brain trust will take this under advisement.

• A report out of Detroit says that Team USA's goalies are already set, and while the first two players on the list shouldn't surprise anybody, the third name might.

• Going to the Winter Classic tomorrow? Better bundle up.

• The Winter Classic launches 62 days of action that will be critical to the league's quest to push its annual revenue to $4 billion.

• It could also help change opinions about Detroit, a city that desperately needs to show a different face to the world.

• This won't come as news to Bruins fans, but the role of rental player didn't suit Jaromir Jagr particularly well last season. That's one of the reasons why he's hoping to finish out the season with the Devils, rather than with another team as a trade deadline mercenary.

Ilya Bryzgalov finally ditched the white mask that he's worn since joining the Oilers. His freshly painted new model is a beauty, featuring side panels drawn by his kids.

• While we're on the subject of new masks, take a look at the lid that Martin Brodeur will wear for New Jersey's Stadium Series game ... assuming, of course, he doesn't get Gillooly-ed by Cory Schneider first.

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• In case you ever wondered if hockey players hear you when you yell ”Shoot!”

• So now we know that Marian Gaborik wasn't faking it when he said his collarbone was broken.

• The Avalanche will be without P.A. Parenteau for a while, and goalie Semyon Varlamov is still feeling sore about the cheap shot he took from Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien.

• The Penguins are looking to add a top-six winger. Could they find the guy they're looking for in Winnipeg? To my mind, the Jets look like a team that should be adding forwards, not trading them, so I'm not sure that these two teams are a good match. Interesting speculation, though.

• Here's one trade rumor that feels like it could have some real legs. This kid is a real talent, but the attitude adjustment he needs might not be possible in his current locale.

• Michal Neuvirth's agent is asking the Capitals to trade his client if they're not going to play him. Not sure what the market is like for unproven goalies who are earning $4 million this season and the next, but I'm guessing that the line of teams interested in his services might begin, and end, with the Islanders.

• Picking up former first rounder Greg Nemisz might not be the last move that Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford makes to shake up his slumping team.

• I can appreciate Claude Noel's loyalty to Ondrej Pavelec, but ultimately it's going to cost him his job. Backup Al Montoya just guided Winnipeg to its first back-to-back victories in a month and gives the Jets their best chance of winning each night. The coach, however, says he's sticking with Pavelec in the No. 1 role.

• Hope no one in Phoenix bought a ticket to tonight's game expressly to watch Nail Yakupov play. The No. 1 pick in 2012 will be a healthy scratch for the third time this season as Oilers coach Dallas Eakins tries to get Yakupov's game back on track. Does anyone think the kid will respond any better this time than he did back in October?

• The players on Team Canada aren't being modest when they call themselves underdogs heading into today's final round-robin game against Team USA at the World Junior Championship. The Americans have been a study in composure and opportunism, while the Canucks have seemed to delight in inventing new ways to shoot themselves in the skates. If they continue to parade to the penalty box, this one could get ugly.

• Some interesting insight here on Kyle Okposo from the viewpoint of his father. Sounds like tomorrow could be a big day for the Islanders forward whether or not he gets the call from Team USA.

• I'm right there with Tracey Myers. Patrick Sharp may not be a sure thing for Team Canada, but the way he's going right now, it's tough to imagine him not making the cut.

Reilly Smith

happy with its end of the Tyler Seguin trade