Top Line: Roy hangs Varlamov out to dry; ban for Pacioretty?; more links
An annotated guide to this morning's must-read hockey stories:
• The embarrassment of being left in the net by coach Mario Tremblay for nine goals on Dec. 2, 1995 precipitated Patrick Roy's departure from Montreal. But here's why, as a coach, Roy had no problem hanging Semyon Varlamov out to dry after he allowed the Oilers eight goals on 28 shots last night.
• Is chemistry with Sidney Crosby reason enough to invite Chris Kunitz and James Neal to play for Team Canada in Sochi? Ken Campbell believes it is. I'm not so sure. Both are solid players, but if that line struggles and has to be broken up, are Kunitz and Neal valuable enough on their own to justify their places on another line?
• Campbell also makes the argument that Max Pacioretty deserves to be suspended for his hit on Johnny Boychuk last night. It was tough to see Boychuk in so much pain, but seriously? If this hit is suspendable, we're one step away from playing no-contact hockey.
• Dave Stubbs writes that Montreal's win last night deserves a punctuation mark. I'm right there with him. A tremendous group effort and a huge moment for a team that looks like it's convincing itself just how good it can be.
• Dejan Kovacevic offers three ways to swing Kris Letang's game from bust back to brilliance.
• Toronto's players are on board with the idea of Wayne Gretzky taking a possible job at Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment. It's all speculation at this point (I engaged in a bit of it myself yesterday), but it seems like a good fit, doesn't it?
• Steve Simmons writes that Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle has taken a step back this season, just like almost every member of his team.
• Drouin, and Team Canada, dodged a bullet on this play last night.
• Throw out the conventional wisdom when it comes to Connor McDavid. The WJC may be a tournament for 19-year-olds, but this 16-year-old has the tools, and the temperament, to tear it up in Malmo.
• The Islanders are starting to talk about playing for pride after dropping their eighth straight game last night. They might want to think about playing for their jobs. With their next four on the road at L.A., Anaheim, San Jose and Phoenix, this skid could hit epic proportions.
• Losing the rights to broadcast NHL games was lousy for TSN, but it sure didn't hurt the network's top on-air talent. James Duthie, Bob McKenzie and Darren Dreger re-upped yesterday, presumably with a few more bucks in their checks to sway them from jumping ship to Rogers.
• Anyone else a little underwhelmed by this trailer for HBO's "24/7"? Not sure a bunch of bland pronouncements of respect for the other side is the way to generate chills of anticipation.
• Listening to the Panthers talk playoffs is like watching Charlie Brown psych himself up before trying to kick the football. Let's win two in a row before we talk about anything beyond that, eh fellas?Stars the Hockey Gods