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Playoff Puck Previews: Penguins, Canucks face the handshake line; Cosmo ranks hottest hockey guys

Back by popular demand, here are your Puck Previews: Spotlighting the key games in NHL action, news and views as well as general frivolity. Make sure to stop back here for the nightly Three Stars when the games are finished.

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Game 4 Preview (Flyers lead 3-0) Pittsburgh Penguins at Philadelphia Flyers, 7:30 p.m.

It could be tremendously awkward handshake time for the Flyers and Penguins tonight. The Pens will be without suspended James Neal, Arron Asham and Craig Adams, as well as injured defenseman Paul Martin. Said Scott Hartnell: "We've got to have a good start. It's not like they're going to roll over and die just because of what happened. Whoever they put in there, we've got to do a job against their top guys and be disciplined."

Game 4 Preview (Kings lead 3-0) Vancouver Canucks at Los Angeles Kings, 7:30 p.m.

The Kings go for the kill against Cory Schneider and the Vancouver Canucks … although they're less concerned about the kill than they are the power play. But their kill will get tested tonight: Daniel Sedin will return from his concussion to attempt to rally the Canucks back from the brink.

Game 4 Preview (Rangers lead 2-1) New York Rangers at Ottawa Senators, 7:30 p.m.

The Sens are likely without Daniel Alfredsson. But Matt Carkner's back to fill the offensive void. Brian Boyle is popular, according to Rangers Rants: "Artem Anisimov, trapped on the other side of Boyle, treated it with more humor. Then again, Anisimov may be the funniest guy in the room. Anisimov quipped that the media needed to start lining up to get to Boyle and Anisimov pointed to an imaginary line that would run out the door. Anisimov also said he would start to charge $5 for the right to get close to Boyle. And Anisimov also jabbed at his friend, asking Boyle if his tongue was getting sore from talking so much."

Check out previews and updated scores for all of today's games on the Y! Sports NHL scores and scheds page. For tonight's starting goalies, check out Left Wing Lock.

Evening Reading

• Listen to today's Marek Vs. Wyshynski podcast.

• The 30 hottest guys in the NHL, according to Cosmopolitan. On Ryan Kesler: "Hottie Ryan loves his fans—he's big on retweeting them." Sadly, no Chara.  [Cosmo, via Joanna Thomas]

• Ilya Kovalchuk laughed off the New Jersey Devils being nervous about their series, down 2-1: "One game is not going to kill our confidence. It's a good job by them. They didn't do anything crazy or surprising. They were good on the power play and why were they good? Because they were simple. They were shooting the puck from (the point) and a couple good bounces went their way and it went in. So, that's what it's all about. You have to shoot the puck to score goals." [Fire & Ice]

• Brandon Saad will likely get the call for Marian Hossa in Game 4. [Blackhawks]

• Andy McDonald of the St. Louis Blues on NHL discipline: "On the suspension part of it, there's really not a deterrent," said McDonald. "If guys were suspended for 20 games, then I think things would change. I think guys would all of a sudden be cautious when it came to elbowing somebody in the head, or hit somebody when he's unsuspecting or in a vulnerable position. It's a difficult issue. I think the league is trying to get it right, but it's a work in progress.'' [ESPN]

Puck Daddy Reader Comment of the Day: From Chris in Atlanta:

Here's an idea to reduce some of the vicious cheap shots going on in the NHL:

If you are one of the NHL's "established" goons who can make it in the NHL (a la Raffi Torres) you know that you generally have several shots before you have to change your behavior. Your first punishment at worse will be 3-5 games, increasing from there to about a max of 25 games. (Bertuzzi got longer, but didn't serve longer due to the lockout.) But odds are, by the time you hit that plateau you will have already spent 3-5 seasons in the league, and if you change your behavior then, you can still spend another 5 or so years in the league with few if any incidents.

But in the grand scheme of things, at most you will miss a total of 50 games, or about 6% of your income out of a 10-year career.

And you really won't cost your team all that much either. Remember, you're a "marginal" 3rd / 4th line guy. You are interchangeable in the very short-to-medium term. Yes, you could lose your job, but you haven't yet, even though you've bounced around teams.

But overall, the team takes a major penalty which may cost them the game, but otherwise they plug in a healthy scratch or an AHL call up and move on. At the end of the year, no one says a team lost out on the playoffs because a player like Torres made a vile hit that got him suspended.

So change the last part of that equation.

Players who are suspended may not be replaced in the line-up for the length of the suspension up to a maximum of 5 games.

Raffi Torres gets suspended for the playoffs? Dress 11 forwards for the next 5 games. Weber gets suspended for a game (should have) for bashing Zetterberg's head into the glass, you have to try to rotate 5 D-men for game #2.

I'd put a limit of 5 games because the other players can't have to pay for one idiot's outrageous mistake for too long. And no game-to-game carryover powerplays. And goalies are exempt (although it would be cool if they weren't). But players should know that the rest of the team will be a little more exhausted, a little more hit, a little more likely to lose if they do something stupid. And when several teams are in line for the 8th spot, that will finally cut this crap out.

Bold Prediction: The Canucks survive. The Penguins do not.

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