Top Line: Cup final Game 5 challenges, free agent rumors, more links

Friday June 21st, 2013

Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask After being strafed for six goals in Game 4, Tuukka Rask's performance looms large for Game 5. (Harry How/AP)

By Allan Muir

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

• Tuukka Rask has allowed at least four goals in a game four times during these playoffs. Each time, he's rebounded with a superior effort. Can he make it five-for-five on Saturday night?

• That gaping hole on the glove side hasn't swayed Chicago coach Joel Quenneville. He's sticking with Corey Crawford for Game 5. But if he gets lit up again on Saturday...

• Line changes, especially the improperly executed ones, could be a critical factor as the Stanley Cup Final enters crunch time.

• It would be nice if the Bruins got off to a decent start in Game 5. You know, just for grins.

• The real beauty of Game 4 was that the coaches were removed from the equation, leaving only hockey as it was intended to be played.

• Boston needs to play smarter, not harder to regain control of the series in Game 5.

• A challenge issued by teammate Brent Seabrook helped Jonathan Toews rediscover his scoring touch.

• The Bruins see the Stanley Cup as half full, despite the disappointment of Game 4.

• If you can't get enough of Chelsea Dagger, the insanely catchy goal song of the Chicago Blackhawks, this should pretty much take care of that for you.

• Ken Warren compiles his list of the 10 hottest offseason rumors.

• The Jordan Staal deal did not set a precedent that will impact Pittsburgh's dealings with Kris Letang. The difference is that Staal was committed to going to market if a new deal wasn't agreed upon. Letang hasn't yet made that declaration, and that creates room for more patient negotiations.

• If you happen to be a Blue Jackets fan looking for good news about the long-term future of Vezina-winner Sergei Bobrovsky in Columbus, well, you probably don't want to read this.

• The Maple Leafs are aggressively pursuing Kings backup goalie Jonathan Bernier, but the Islanders, Panthers, Wild, and now the Devils are in the hunt as well.

• The futures of Thomas Vanek and Ryan Miller remain in doubt in Buffalo. Because, you know, why would that be a pressing issue for Darcy Regier?

• Once the province of small towns like Saskatoon and Red Deer, the World Junior Championship has gone big time with the announcement of a co-hosting agreement between Montreal and Toronto for both 2015 and 2017.

• New Jersey's financial problems come down to the lack of a roommate at The Rock. A prepackaged bankruptcy sale could be on the horizon for the Devils, which should be a real selling point with free agency right around the corner, eh?

• They've signed Mark Streit and bought out Danny Briere, but things haven't even begun to get interesting in Philadelphia, suggests Tim Panaccio.

• This is what it would sound like if Bob Cole called the NBA Final. Don't think I've seen five minutes of the NBA since the '80s, but if Cole called it, maybe that sport might finally catch on with Americans.

• The great Mike Russo conducts a Q&A with Wild owner Craig Leipold focusing on the state of the team. Whaddya know? Things are looking up!

• We are weeks away from the potential start of orientation camps, and we still don't have an agreement that ensures NHL players will participate in the Sochi Olympics. But Hockey Canada's Bob Nicholson says that could be finalized "in a couple of weeks." This is getting to be like the Phoenix situation. Sit down, get to work, and let us know when you've got something concrete.

• There was plenty to like about Damien Brunner's rookie season in Detroit ... but was there enough to sign the pending UFA to the kind of deal he wants?

• As the Rangers get set to introduce Alain Vigneault as their new head coach, it's looking more like John Tortorella will take AV's place behind the bench in Vancouver.

• The thought of hiring Tortorella is polarizing the local populace, but he would be the quickest way to change the message in Vancouver.

11 Canadian words most Americans don't understand.
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