By Allan Muir
A guide to this morning's must-read hockey stories:
• So apparently the NHL has dropped the four-conference plan for realignment and has some new ideas on the playoff format. Does it really have to be this difficult, fellas?
• St. Louis GM Doug Armstrong has been spotted at three of Philadelphia's last four games. Is veteran Danny Briere his target?
• The Hobbit could be back on Broadway soon. Mats Zuccarello may rejoin the Rangers after his KHL season is over. He extended it himself yesterday, scoring the game-winning goal for Metallurg Magnitogorsk with four-seconds left on the clock in Game 4 of its playoff series against Salavat Yulaev Ufa.
• The New Jersey Devils have placed Martin Brodeur on IR, proving that he is human after all. Keith Kinkaid has been recalled, highlighting just how diligent this team should be about exploring the market for a young goalie with real NHL potential.
• Instead, the Devils are said to be shopping for a top-six forward, with seldom-used defender Henrik Tallinder as the bait. Can just imagine the crowd trying to beat down Lou Lamoriello's door to make that one happen.
• The reaction in Dallas to yesterday's Cole/Ryder trade? "There’s a chance the Stars push all the right buttons with Cole, and he is spectacular. There’s a chance he can’t find a fit in Dallas and he flops and you have a $4 million player you can’t move."
• Montreal GM Marc Bergevin is quickly putting his stamp on the surprising Canadiens and proving himself to be one of the savviest minds in the game.
• Braden Holtby denied Alexander Semin on a 2-on-0 shorthanded break just three minutes into the game, and kept the door shut the rest of the way as the Caps blanked the Canes, 3-0. After the game, Holtby threw the old reverse-compliment at his former teammate: "If he decides to play, he could be the best player in the world."
• The Islanders were expecting to beat the Bruins last night, but the loss leaves them with a 2-8-0 mark at home, the worst record in the league. With five games left on their seven-game home stand, the Isles need to find a way to come out of these contests with something more than satisfaction with their compete level.
• The Vancouver Canucks have a surplus of wingers and a glaring hole at third-line center. Somebody with some size and snarl would be ideal, but they won't get that kind of player without paying a painful price.
• Just yesterday we were talking about how reliant the Florida Panthers are on their power play. They proved it again last night, scoring four times with the man advantage to knock off the Penguins in a thrilling game at the BB&T Center.