Top Line: Roberto Luongo injury scare; Voracek glad to be alive; more links

Monday December 23rd, 2013

Goalie Roberto Luongo of the Vancouver Canucks has a lower body injury The ranks of injured goalies grew when Roberto Luongo was sidelined by a lower body ailment. (Icon SMI)

By Allan Muir

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

• Roberto Luongo left Sunday night's game early with an undisclosed injury, raising questions for both the Canucks and Team Canada. We should know more today about his condition and how it might impact his plans for the next six weeks or so.

• The buzz continues to build around Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson. At this point, his game shouldn't be taking anyone by surprise, especially not the voters who are responsible for choosing this season's Norris Trophy winner. With every team visiting every NHL city this season, there's no excuse to overlook a talent like OEL.

• Eric Duhatschek looks at the growing prominence of backup goalies, including the Kings' Martin Jones, who will be trying to make history with his next start. Jones' success will put Los Angeles in an interesting position when Jonathan Quick returns to the lineup.

• Ken Campbell uses Jones' instant success to make the case against offering long-term contracts to such goalies as Henrik Lundqvist.

• A near-fatal car crash changed the perspective of the Flyers' Jake Voracek, helping him to work through an early season slump and finally regain his world-class form.

• Another player counting his blessings is Seth Jones, who avoided a serious injury after he was struck in the eye by a puck. The visor he wears likely saved him from suffering a much worse fate.

Zach Parise explains why he called John Tortorella to apologize after making some potentially offensive remarks.

• Goaltender Jon Gillies and a fast, creative group of forwards will be the key to Team USA's hopes at this year's World Junior Championship. Chris Peters previews the defending champs.

• Patrick Roy manages to mix a little fun into the schedule to reward the Avalanche for all their hard work.

There are no answers in Wild's dressing room to explain why Minnesota is in such a deep funk. With the team's confidence shot, it's an easy two points right now.

• Goalie Josh Harding is the one member of the Wild who is still on top of his game. Jim Matheson says Harding is the smart choice for Team Canada. Matty also touches on the Olympic hopes of Claude Giroux, Jamie Benn and Nail Yakupov.

• Five years after being drafted second overall, Victor Hedman is finally starting to look like a true No. 1 defenseman. Here's why.

• Young Finns Olli Maatta and Aleksander Barkov top the list of players whose Olympic stock is on the rise as the roster deadline approaches. • Here's a great idea for the NHL to swipe for its 2015 outdoor games: see-through boards. Just don't let the guys who sell the arena ads get wind of this.

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