Top Line: The NHL’s Ambien epidemic, must-read Sunday columns, more links

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Alex Ovechkin showcased his star power with a hat trick on Saturday afternoon. [Mark Goldman/Icon SMI]

Alex Ovechkin showcased his star power with a hat trick on Saturday afternoon. [Mark Goldman/Icon SMI]

By Allan Muir

A super-sized weekend edition guide to this morning’s must-read hockey stories:

•’s own Adrian Dater reports the NHL and NHLPA are studying reports of Ambien abuse among the league’s sleep-deprived players. Abuse of the drug was linked to the death of enforcer Derek Boogaard.

• Here are the Sunday columns from Michael Russo, Bruce Garrioch, Mike Zeisberger and Steve Simmons.

• The daughter of Buffalo owner Terry Pegula says the Sabres are really bad. Dad must have been thrilled.

• Brad Richards has lost his swagger in New York, and while there’s still time to salvage his season, Larry Brooks wonders if the highly-compensated center might be a candidate for a contract buyout this summer. Seems crazy on the surface, but with the cap going down and Richards not living up to his deal, it’s probably been discussed.

• Alex Ovechkin’s first hat trick in two years has the Caps hoping the captain is finally finding himself in the team’s new system.

• He’s big and hairy and making a major impact with the Chicago Blackhawks.

• Mike Eruzione’s Miracle On Ice jersey just sold for how much???

• Ryan Suter is starting to find his mojo in Minnesota. He’s had plenty of time to work out the kinks: he’s played more than 30 minutes four times this season, including Thursday night against Edmonton.

• The Battle of Ontario matched Big Ben (Scrivens) against Extra Large Ben (Bishop), further evidence of the increasing size of NHL goalies.

• Rookie blueliner Dougie Hamilton has hit a rough patch but is focusing on the little things to smooth out his transition to the big league.

• More from Dater, who said Colorado’s performance in a loss to the Kings evoked the legendary ineptitude of the Washington Generals. I was surprised to read that Paul Stastny was going into a slump. I hadn’t realized he’d actually pulled out of the one that he’s been in for the last 18 months.

• There are jokes, there are bad jokes, and then there’s this: Three North Dakota students dressed up as members of the KKK for a high school hockey game.

• Lessons learned from Sidney Crosby’s concussion woes will color how the Penguins handle Evgeni Malkin, which explains why the team is keeping his status on the down low.

• The perception of him has changed thanks to a gregarious online life, but but Roberto Luongo is still the same man.

• Max Pacioretty was famously bitter after being sidelined by a hard hit from Zdeno Chara. Wonder if Ryan McDonagh will feel the same way after possibly being concussed by MaxPac?

• Lars Eller credits time spent with a sports psychologist for the turnaround in his game.

• The Stars are quietly aligning their game in Dallas. Amazing performance last night from Jamie Benn, who recovered from getting tuned-up by Joe Thornton to lead Dallas to an impressive win over San Jose.

• “I ain’t gonna be the one to lose that game,” Jordan Staal said ahead of this week’s vist by his old Pittsburgh teammates to Carolina.

• Not a bad day for Tomas Tatar, who made twenty bucks at practice, then scored a big goal at night to help Detroit emphatically end a five-game losing streak.

• Awkward tweet of the night:

You know where he’d look even hotter, Carrie? On the scoresheet.

  • Published On Feb 24, 2013