An annotated guide to this morning’s must-read hockey stories:
• It’s hardly news that the Panthers lost last night. But add freshly-signed goaltender Tim Thomas to the mix and you have the evening’s top story. He stopped nine of 10 shots while playing half the game, setting himself up nicely for what could be a 60-minute effort on Saturday.
• With new owner Vinnie Viola expected to be introduced today, the climate is about to change for hockey in south Florida.
• The Capitals understand that Alex Ovechkin will be a little jet-lagged for the season opener, but they couldn’t deny him the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be the first torchbearer in the Olympic flame relay next week. Big picture, this was the right call for the team and for the promotion of the game, which, after all, is what the league’s involvement in the Olympics is all about.
• A couple of unexpected names made the cut as the Blackhawks finally saw their names etched on the Stanley Cup yesterday.
• Newly-signed Rangers center Derek Stepan says he’s not far off from being game ready despite missing more than two weeks of training camp while embroiled in a contract dispute. What do you say we remind him of this assessment when he’s sucking wind during next Thursday’s season opener?