Top Line: The Ovechkin of old, Hawks clinch a playoff spot, more links

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Alex Ovechkin

It took him a while to get going, but Alex Ovechkin is white hot these days. (Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)

By Allan Muir

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

• It’s just like old times for Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals. Both are back in league-leading positions after Sunday’s win over the Lightning.

• Here’s more on that Dodger Stadium outdoor game I wrote about yesterday. The Kings are now talking openly about their desire for a game against the Ducks. They’re looking at a Jan. 25, 2014 date for their chance to host outdoor hockey in Southern California. Hint to boss: If you need anyone to cover this one…

• The Ottawa Senators have dropped the first three stops of a seven-game road trip and Tim Wharnsby notes a common theme. He also touches on the revival of the Caps and Jaromir Jagr’s hardcore practice habits.

• Their play over the past two games suggests the Dallas Stars might be a better team without Jagr in their lineup. I’ll have more on this later today.

• Sunday’s win over the Predators earned the Blackhawks the first ticket to the 2013 Western Conference playoffs.

• Patrick Kane is right. It’s tough not to get emotional about this moment from yesterday’s Hawks/Preds game.

• Buffalo’s young players have 10 games to prove they can step up and fill the leadership void in the Sabres’ dressing room.

• Three straight losses dropped Minnesota perilously close to ninth spot in the West, making last night’s 3-0 win over Columbus one of the season’s biggest for the Wild.

• The Wild are hoping that shoulder surgery for Dany Heatley will have him back in the lineup before the end of the regular season. That doesn’t sound right, does it?

• St Louis played its third contest in 3-1/2 days, but offered a gritty two-way effort to support a return-to-form game from Brian Elliott in a win over Detroit.

• Sunday’s 1-0 loss to the Blues forces the Red Wings to take the hard road to secure a spot in the Western Conference playoffs.

• A shootout loss to the Ducks ended L.A.’s chances at the Pacific title, but the Kings were happy with a playoff-caliber performance.

• A pair of rookies made very different impressions on Mike Babcock this weekend. It didn’t take Detroit’s coach long to decide that 2010 first-rounder Riley Sheahan isn’t ready to contribute just yet, but the coach liked what he saw from free agent signee Danny DeKeyser.

• James Reimer has a lot to learn from a battle-tested netminder like Henrik Lundqvist. The two face off tonight as the Maple Leafs host the Rangers.

• I guess a headline like “Morrow’s value to Pens should come in playoffs” is a nice way of saying the former Dallas Star hasn’t done much since arriving in Pittsburgh, eh?

• Apparently, last week was the best ever to cover the Vancouver Canucks. Clearly Ed Willes wasn’t around in the Sheldon Kannegiesser days…

• The Edmonton Oilers need to find the intensity button as they try to make their case for playoff legitimacy down the stretch.

• Diving accusations in the wake of a Boston-Montreal game? C’est ne pas possible!

• Life without Patrice Bergeron is not going to be easy on Boston’s goaltenders. The team has scored just twice since he was lost indefinitely to a “moderate” concussion.

• Another gruesome skate-cut injury last night, this time in the AHL, where Philadelphia farmhand Eric Wellwood fell awkwardly and was cut by his own blade. Scary stuff. Here’s hoping for a quick recovery for the two-time Memorial Cup winner.

• Elliotte Friedman didn’t help matters by tweeting this photo.

  • Published On Apr 08, 2013