An annotated guide to this morning’s must-read hockey stories:
• Did the distraction of their upcoming Stadium Series date on Saturday night lead the Ducks to lose their first home game of the season? That’s where one player is laying the blame for the team’s sloppy execution in Tuesday night’s streak-busting loss to the Jets.
• Though keeping local rivalries bubbling with outdoor games is a great idea, it looks like the NHL’s schedule maker messed up because the post-Olympics stretch drive will be short on drama.
• The Penguins say they doubled their fan base in the wake of hosting the 2011 Winter Classic and the ’12 NHL draft. That’s the kind of return Los Angeles is hoping to cultivate with its outdoor game against Anaheim at Dodger Stadium.
• The hottest team in hockey is … the Blue Jackets?!? Adam Proteau explains how these early-season sad sacks got their game in order, and says they’ve become a near-lock for the playoffs.
• It’s not just that the Jackets are winning, it’s that they’re winning with ease.
• Their 7-1 loss to the Devils reflects a failure of the entire Blues team, but by allowing seven goals on just 23 shots, Brian Elliot and Jaroslav Halak showed why many believe that St. Louis needs to bring in another goalie in order to get to the next level.
• While Senators owner Eugene Melnyk continues to wage his bizarre, one-man-with-too-much-money battle to prove a crime that didn’t happen, the players involved, Erik Karlsson and Matt Cooke have moved on.