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Top Line: Sochi hockey playoff schedule set; the trouble with Crosby; more links

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(Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Shootout hero T.J. Oshie’s tenacity made him a great fit for Team USA.  (Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

By Allan Muir

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

• Here are the start times for Tuesday’s play-in games and Wednesday’s quarterfinals in Sochi. Not sure who the genius was that scheduled the games for Canada and the U.S. at the same time, but there’s a special place in hell waiting for him.

• Healthy, set in goal and scoring in bunches, Team USA heads into Wednesday’s medal round ready to take on the world.

• With Russia a mess and Canada still trying to figure itself out, Team USA has every reason to like its chances heading into the medal round.

• Bob Kravitz writes that the buzz keeps building around T.J. Oshie. Can’t say I agree with the oft-repeated contention that the Blues’ buzzsaw was selected primarily because of his shootout skills, though. The pace and tenacity he brings to the game makes him an ideal depth player for this sort of tournament, and would have made him an easy pick no matter what. The shootout skills? Icing on the cake.

• Sidney Crosby has seemed rather ordinary through Canada’s first three games, in large part because he hasn’t yet found wingers with whom he’s comfortable. So why is it so hard to play with Sid?

• Chris Johnston reminds us that Crosby’s impact can’t be measured on the score sheet alone.

• Mike Babcock was a little testy in the aftermath of Sunday’s win over Finland. Trust me, Canada. He’s more frustrated than you are.

• And that’s why Babcock is likely to continue tinkering with his forwards as long as the tournament progresses. Sounds like we may have seen the last of P.K. Subban, though.

• Is Team Canada ready for the medal round? After three games in Sochi, it’s still hard to tell.

• It only seemed like Erik Karlsson was trying to kill Henrik Lundqvist…

• Further evidence of the complete sorriness of the International Olympic Committee: Swedish women’s goalie Lizana Wallner’s mask featured a tribute to former national team keeper Stefan Liv, who was killed in the tragic Lokomotiv plane crash — but the IOC made her tape over it.

• At any given time during Sunday’s game against Canada, one out of every three Finns was tuned in to a TV. One more reason why NHL players will be back in 2018 — the league simply cannot dream of generating that level of fan interest for a World Cup game in August.

• Hard to believe that the Blackhawks sent 10 players to Sochi and none of them have done this.

• But several of them have done this.

• Things are not going well for Jaroslav Halak in Sochi. Any chance these beatings get into his head and impact him down the stretch in St. Louis?

• What do his worsening back problems mean for the future of Henrik Zetterberg? And will the injury-riddled Red Wings become buyers at the deadline? Ansar Khan has the answers.

• Tim Panaccio ponders on the possibility of the Flyers making a pitch for Shea Weber this summer. If something on this scale was to happen, I’m thinking that Philly would have to make anybody on the team or in the system — other than Claude Giroux — available as part of the massive package that would have to go to Nashville.

• In case you’re one of those fans who is less than enchanted with the suffocating defense and no-hit fanciness of the Olympic tournament, here’s a little something to wake you up, from last night’s AHL game between the Portland Pirates and Adirondack Phantoms.

• And finally, one more reason why I’ll never miss a sports piece by Rosie DiManno: this evisceration of the sham sport of ice dancing. Just to be clear, Rosie is not the Princess of Wales.

  • Published On Feb 17, 2014
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