By johnsrolfe
December 30, 2013

Goaltender Ryan Miller will likely start for Team USA at the Sochi Olympics. His Sabres are down, but Ryan Miller's game has risen to its former Olympic level. (Keith Hamilton/Icon SMI)

By John Rolfe

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

• Time has likely run out for a bunch of players who are hoping to make Team USA's Olympic roster, but Ryan Miller has locked down a spot and, if the Sabres don't trade him, he could end up making NHL goaltending history.

Kings netminder Jonathan Quick is closing in on his return from a groin injury, just in time to secure his place on Team USA.

• Things are looking good for Detroit's Jimmy Howard, too.

• Jim Matheson thinks Team USA can easily take on that golden glow.

Claude Giroux's season started horribly with a freak injury, followed by a horrendous slump through his first 15 games. The Flyers followed suit at 4-10-1. But their captain has turned it around and so has the team. Giroux now has his sights set on making good on his vow of a postseason berth for Philly ... and earning a spot on Team Canada in Sochi.

• Eric Duhatschek says Team Canada GM Steve Yzerman is facing a crunch of his own, trying to figure out how to make room for 14 worthy forwards on his 25-man roster without leaving himself open to second guessing.

• Life has been all right for Alex Ovechkin since his position switch, but Capitals coach Adam Oates thinks Russia will move the sniper back to left wing in Sochi.

• You can expect the production for Wednesday's Winter Classic in Ann Arbor, Mich., to be almost as big as The Big House itself. And if you like a little snow with your hockey, Mother Nature may just cooperate. Sunshine, on the other hand, is proving to be the bane of outdoor games.

• The Red Wings' and Maple Leafs' goalies will be decked out in special gear for the big game ... and all four are hoping they get a chance to show it off. Only two netminders can start, of course, and Toronto's Jonathan Bernier looks like a good bet.

• The NHL may be in danger of overdoing it with outdoor games, but Tal Pinchevsky says the trend has helped a new generation discover the joys of playing on frozen ponds.

After routing Germany, 8-0 on Sunday, Team USA is on track to clinch the top spot in Group A at the World Junior Championship. Having a little NHL experience on the roster hasn't hurt the Americans.

• A loss to the Czech Republic on Saturday, coupled with the victory by the U.S., put Canada in the tough position of needing regulation-time victories over Slovakia today and Team USA on Tuesday to finish first in Group A. Toward that end, Team Canada coach Brent Sutter is making a change in net, and is keeping the faith in 16-year-old phenom Connor McDavid.

• Speaking of the WJC: In case you missed it on Saturday, here's one of the more entertaining goal calls you'll ever hear, and you don't even have to speak Czech to appreciate it.

• It was a long time coming for Sharks forward Bracken Kearns, who finally scored his first NHL goal at the ripe old age of 32 to help San Jose snap the Ducks' 10-game win streak.

• The Wild's death spiral continued with a loss to the woeful Islanders that left coach Mike Yeo at a loss for words. Mike Russo says the scary thing is that no one in the room has a clue about how to fix what's wrong with the team.

• The inimitable Adrian Dater says the skidding Avalanche will be looking forward to their next meeting with the Jets after Winnipeg defenseman Dustin Byfuglien delivered a cheap shot to goalie Semyon Varlamov during Colorado's loss in overtime on Sunday.

• Avs coach Patrick Roy was already in a bad mood because of his beef with the NHL's schedule-maker.

• Are the Maple Leafs about to overpay defenseman Dion Phaneuf? Damien Cox argues that Toronto GM Dave Nonis does not have much choice.

The Sporting News this happens

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