Top Line: Meltdowns in Toronto, Calgary; Bruins struggle; more links

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Horror in Hogtown: Randy Carlyle (standing, center) must wonder, "Can't anybody here play this game?" (Icon SMI)

Randy Carlyle and the Toronto Maple Leafs

By Allan Muir

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

• In the eight days since the Winter Classic, the Maple Leafs have gone 0-3 and been outscored 18-5. Chris Johnston explains why Toronto is unraveling before our eyes.

• Talk about raking these Leafs. Ouch.

• As bad as things are in Toronto, they might be even worse in Calgary, where a successful zone exit is celebrated like a bar-down one-timer these days.

• This statistic does not speak well of the Flames' offensive proficiency.

• Here's how a minor-league hockey chaplain decided he wanted to play in the NHL again.

• Mike Harrington says the first order of business for new Sabres GM Tim Murray is figuring out what he wants to do with Ryan Miller and Ted Nolan. It's hard to believe that Murray wouldn't want to keep the coach. The decision about the goalie, though, might be out of his hands.

• John Vogl explains how Murray impressed Pat LaFontaine to earn the job.

• It's been nearly 30 years since home was quite so hospitable to the Flyers.

• Marcus Kruger is getting another shot as the Blackhawks' second-line center. Wait ... is it his turn again already?

• Sounds like Team Russia GM Alexei Yashin and coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov don't exactly see eye-to-eye on the decision to select the Stars' Valeri Nichushkin for their Olympic squad. Maybe Val should bring a book along, you know, to keep himself occupied in the press box.

Eric Staal says he's bitter about being left off Team Canada. Can't blame the guy, given his history and what he went through as a result of representing Canada at last spring's World Championship, but he didn't make himself indispensable this season, either.

• Are you still wondering what it was about Jeff Carter's game that made him so attractive to Team Canada? All you had to do was watch him last night when, through two periods, he almost single-handedly outshot the Bruins.

• Things have gone south for Boston on its trip out west, but there is good news on the horizon. Shawn Thornton returns on Saturday from his 15-game suspension, and Loui Eriksson could be back after spending a month on IR recovering from the Brooks Orpik-induced concussion that made Thornton go ballistic in the first place.

• This might be the dumbest penalty of the year:

• The struggling Capitals earned a win on the road last night, but only after blowing a late, two-goal lead. That kind of erratic play, and a tough, road-heavy schedule, sets up January as a month that could make or break their season.

• Was a move to the right side of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Taylor Hall designed to kick-start the offensive game of Sam Gagner ... or was it done to showcase him for a trade? David Staples wonders if Gagner could be the key piece in a swap with the Jets to land either Andrew Ladd or Blake Wheeler.

Dustin Byfuglien has been lost at sea in his own end this season, so moving him back to his old position on the wing should be a no-brainer for struggling Winnipeg.

• It's been what, a couple of months since deep-pocketed Vinnie Viola bought the Panthers, and already he's gone to Broward County with hat in hand. Yep, things are really looking up for this team.

• Maybe Florida needs the money to help pay for Ryan Miller. "Florida's a good spot," Miller said on Thursday.

• An photographer was victimized by thieves this week. If you live in Southwestern Ontario, you can help by keeping your eyes open for this stuff.

Wade Redden

announcing his retirement