By amuir29
April 07, 2014

Thomas Vanek and Montreal Canadiens The Canadiens are the last hope for Canada's first Stanley Cup since 1993. (Jana Chytilova/Getty Images)

By Allan Muir

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

• Will Canadian hockey fans rally around Montreal simply because the Canadiens are the country's only playoff-bound team? Should they?

• The Habs' Max Pacioretty could have scored his 40th goal of the season on Saturday, but he didn't want the grief. Dave Stubbs explains.

• Montreal should sign free agent P.K. Subban to a long-term extension, right? It's not that easy, says Jack Todd.

• The only game that matters now in Toronto is the Maple Leafs' blame game. James Mirtle makes the case for who has been most responsible for the team's epic collapse.

• Now three points out of the wild card, the Devils need a bit of sorcery to make the playoffs. Randy Miller conjures up 10 ways that New Jersey can reach the postseason.

• Calling him "a compelling and confounding talent," Dejan Kovacevic talks to the Penguins' James Neal, and discusses the second chance that lies ahead for him.

• The Blackhawks did themselves no favors when they failed to address the cheap shot from Brooks Orpik that sidelined Jonathan Toews. Fluto Shinazawa looks at what that might mean for Chicago, and ponders the Bruins' issues with signing Jarome Iginla, in this week's column.

• So, who do you call when a bench-clearing brawl gets totally out of hand ... and one of the teams involved is made up of cops?

• Coach John Tortorella won over Vancouver's ownership with his personality. So why didn't it work for his team?

• There'll be one heck of a golden parachute strapped to Tortorella's back if he's cut loose. Jim Matheson's potpourri column looks at those numbers, as well as Teemu Selanne's toughest NHL opponent, the league's tiniest top prospect and more.

• Matty also looks at Gustav Nyquist, and what his success says about the Red Wings' scouting and development machine.

• How are scouts doing overall? Not bad, according to this statistical analysis. Oh, and the OHL rules.

Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller's slump continued as he succumbed to the Oilers' late surge in a 4-2 loss to Edmonton. Does Bruce Boudreau have a tough decision ahead?

• Fun fact to know and tell: the Avalanche are the only NHL team this season to achieve a particularly notable feat.

Jeff Skinner of the Hurricanes now has two 30-goal seasons under his belt before the age of 22, but his sights are set much higher.

• The decision to bench Evander Kane was an act of leadership that the Jets have needed for a long time, says Gary Lawless.

• It's clear that Winnipeg is at a fork in the road with Kane. Which way are they likely to go?

GORE WARNING! Christian Ehrhoff decided to tweet photos of his ear after it was sliced open by a puck. Thanks for sharing!

• We here at Top Line are renowned for passing along the diet tips of hockey's top stars. So here's the latest.

epic hockey-related Jeopardy fail ...

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