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Top Line: How to stop Alex Ovechkin; Stamkos nearing return; more links

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Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals

Alex Ovechkin is leading the NHL with 33 goals, but at least one team has slowed him down of late. (AP)

By Allan Muir

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

• A pair of Penguins (and future Team USA defense partners) discuss the secrets to shutting the door on Alex Ovechkin. Some interesting insights here ahead of the Wednesday Night Rivalry game between Pittsburgh and the Capitals.

• The Penguins will set a new club record with a win tonight.

• Washington’s much-maligned defense has turned a corner, allowing two goals or fewer in three straight games. Problem is, that success has come at the expense of the team’s offense.

• Capitals coach Adam Oates isn’t really comparing Tom Wilson to Joe Thornton, is he?

• Steven Stamkos is not ready to offer a target date just yet, and he says he still feels a lot of discomfort with certain movements, but all signs point to a pre-Olympic return to action for him.

• Another night, another milestone point for Jaromir Jagr. It was a pretty significant night for Martin Brodeur, too, in what might have been his final game in Montreal.

• The Stars’ Shawn Horcoff blames the Bruins for Tyler Seguin’s behavior in Boston. Sure. Seems reasonable.

• Palm trees, a beach volleyball court, a blonde in a red one-piece running in slow motion … oh yeah, and an NHL-quality ice surface stretching from first to third. Those are just a few of the highlights confirmed yesterday for the upcoming outdoor game at Dodger Stadium.

• Wait … the Canucks are a roving bunch of thugs now? Sweet … but how about mixing in a goal every now and then?

• Did Keith Olbermann just bestow the nickname of the year on Vancouver’s Tom Sestito?

• No, that wasn’t another polar vortex air mass. That was a massive sigh of relief from across Canada after the Ducks confirmed that Ryan Getzlaf should be good to go after taking a shot in the foot on Saturday.

• Mike Harrington says that the Sabres are finally doing right by their frustrating — and frustrated — prospect Mikhail Grigorenko.

• Man, Jhonas Enroth is a battler:

• Fans of Henrik Lundqvist can take solace in the numbers that suggest his recent run of mediocre play will not last.

• Ryan Murray’s coach says that he has no flash and no speed, and that he won’t put up any numbers, but nevertheless insists that the Blue Jackets’ defenseman deserves consideration for the Calder Trophy. “Murray is best appreciated if you see him every day,” writes Michael Arace. “A picture develops. Every little play he makes is a pixel and, at the end of each game, there is a photograph, in black and white, perfectly framed and sharply focused.” Good stuff.

• Jiri Hudler is taking his Olympic snub like a boss.

• TSN’s Craig Button offers up his midseason draft rankings and he’s not quite as high as Central Scouting on Leon Draisatl. I’m right there with him — make all the excuses you want about new teammates and a new system, but the German forward’s performance at the World Juniors had to have hurt his stock.

• Gare Joyce isn’t buying Central Scouting’s decision to rank Sam Bennett at No. 1.

• Six of the players who will take part in tonight’s CHL Top Prospects game have an advantage over the others.

• Recently axed Jets coach Claude Noel moved Dustin Byfuglien to forward in an act of desperation. Paul Maurice will leave him there as a matter of choice. An interesting decision, for sure.

Smart call by Team Russia in naming its Olympic captain this morning.

• Meanwhile, Russian coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov explains why rookie Valeri Nichushkin made the cut for Sochi, and why Alexander Semin did not.

• And finally, this:

  • Published On Jan 15, 2014
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