A super-sized weekend edition guide to this morning’s must-read hockey stories:
• SI.com’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.
• 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.
• Awkward tweet of the night:
You know where he’d look even hotter, Carrie? On the scoresheet.