Top Line: Blackhawks tested in NHL playoffs opener, Crosby watch, more
By Allan Muir
An annotated guide to this morning's must-read hockey stories:
• The Blackhawks haven't faced much adversity this season, but managed to face it down in the opener of their series against the Wild. Hey, if the biggest test they've faced this season is their own complacency, that's saying something, right?
• OT hero Bryan Bickell's game-winner enhanced his reputation as someone who comes to play in the postseason.
• Josh Harding goes into the books as the loser of Game 1, but Jim Souhan calls Minnesota's emergency starter "the most remarkable player on the ice." Our own Stu Hackel wrote about Harding when the goalie was first diagnosed with MS.
• Nine of Minnesota's players made their NHL postseason debuts in the game last night, including goal scorer Cal Clutterbuck. From this seat, Charlie Coyle looked good...but then, he looks pretty good most nights, doesn't he?
• Evgeni Malkin sees the playoffs as a chance to put the disappointment of an injury-ravaged season behind him. He's also looking to make up for losing in the first round to the Flyers last spring. I'm guessing he's going to make some pool owners happy this year.
• In Detroit, the coming realignment is being celebrated as the end to the 10:30 playoff starting time.
• Damien Cox looks at the trio of deals between Boston and Toronto that helped set the stage for this Original 6 clash.
• Joe Thornton says "it's pure craziness out there" when Brent Burns is playing forward. The Sharks need the converted defender to play an aggressive, net-driving game if they hope to take out the Canucks.
• Ed Willes writes that time is running out for the core of this Vancouver team to compete for a Stanley Cup. Getting Ryan Kesler to find the Beast Mode switch will be key to getting the ball rolling.
• Montreal rookies Brendan Gallagher and Alex Galchenyuk are ready for their first taste of NHL playoff action...and hope the Habs will last long enough that they can produce something better than the peach fuzz currently busying up their chins.
• In Ottawa, they're ready for the friendly rivalry between the Senators and Canadiens to take on a nastier tone. If it doesn't happen, it's their own fault. What kind of monster does someone have to be to hate the Sens?
• OHL coach of the year Mike Velluci deserves a shot in the NHL according to Plymouth Whalers/Carolina Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos. "He's better than three or four guys currently coaching" in the league, he said, not looking in Kirk Muller's direction. • Here's a list of the top-selling NHL jerseys from this season.