By Allan Muir
An annotated guide to this morning’s must-read hockey stories:
• Braden Holtby says “something changed in our locker room,” before back-to-back wins over Winnipeg on March 21 and 22 that turned the season around for the now red-hot Washington Capitals.
• Probably helps that the Caps have a coach who’s been called “the smartest” by one legendary former NHLer.
• The Blackhawks survived a a playoff-style assault from the Blues to secure a 2-0 win. This was an impressive effort by Chicago, which managed to up its compete level every time St. Louis challenged the Hawks physically.
• The Blues played well enough to win on Sunday, but the lack of a finisher scuttled their chances.
• A 7-2-2 run has some people thinking that the Los Angeles Kings are peaking just in time to defend their 2012 Stanley Cup crown.
• Canadian hockey fans – and broadcasters –are looking forward to a dream playoff match-up.
• An old, ripped undershirt – and maybe a more consistent effort – has helped Derick Brassard transition from the Blue Jackets to the Rangers.
• The Pittsburgh Penguins think that Alex Ovechkin deserves the Hart Trophy. Nah, I’m just messin’ with ya. If they had a vote, which they don’t, the hardware would go to Sidney Crosby.
• Eric Hartzell didn’t leave Pittsburgh with the prize he came for – -an NCAA title — but the outstanding netminder for Quinnipiac nailed down a decent consolation: a one-year deal with the Penguins. Because of his age (24), that’s the maximum contract length to which he could be signed, so basically that means he has the rest of this season to prove himself in the AHL. That could mean the end of Brad Thiessen’s run in the organization.