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Puck Previews: B's, Leafs battle; Milbury sees no Cooke discipline

Sean Leahy
Puck Daddy

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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Preview: Boston Bruins at Toronto Maple Leafs, 7 p.m. EST. Boston plays their first game since the Matt Cooke(notes) his on Marc Savard(notes) and they will also be without Zdeno Chara(notes) as he's day-to-day with a "lower-body injury". For the Leafs, Luca Caputi(notes) will find himself promoted to the top line alongside Phil Kessel(notes) (pointless in all four meetings against Boston this season) and Tyler Bozak(notes) in his first home game with Toronto. Tim Thomas(notes) will be in goal for Boston, while Jonas Gustavsson(notes) is expected to get the start for the Leafs. And might we see Colton Orr(notes) and Milan Lucic(notes) dance again?

Preview: Vancouver Canucks at Colorado Avalanche, 9 p.m. EST. With both teams separated by two points, this Northwest Division battle is key for both teams as we hit the final month of the season. Vancouver is winding down their 14-game road trip and will finally return home on Saturday night, while the Avalanche enter tonight 2-2-0 since the NHL resumes last week. Vancouver has outscored Colorado 16-4 in their past three meetings this season and look to continue that trend and extend their divisional lead. Watch this game live on Y! Sports

Check out previews and updated scores for all of today's games on the Y! Sports NHL scores and scheds page.

Evening Reading

• An armed man stole an unknown amount of cash from a Buffalo-area Auntie Anne's mall pretzel stand and then swiped a Sidney Crosby(notes) jersey from another store's office before escaping. [Buffalo News] s/t to David C. for sending that in

• Plans for the 2010 Pinstripe Bowl were finalized today with the college football bowl game to be played at Yankee Stadium on December 30th. There goes any chance of the NHL holding the next Winter Classic in the Bronx. [Yankees]

• Mike Milbury believes the Matt Cooke hit isn't a suspendable play and "His job is to make sure he punishes people when he gets the opportunity. Intent to injure? I don’t know. That’s a hard one to pin on anybody. Certainly, ready to finish his check with authority.” He went on to blame the Bruins players on the ice for not retaliating right after. [WEEI] s/t Kukla

• Stephen Brunt believes Gary Bettman isn't the man to take the NHL to the next step. [Globe & Mail]

• Not talking about his February DUI charge, Edmonton Oilers goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin(notes) did say that despite being out for the rest of the year after back surgery, he'd like to get on the ice before the end of the season. [Edmonton Journal]

• Chained to the Tampa Bay bench by Barry Melrose a year ago, Lightning center Steven Stamkos(notes) is on pace 51 goals this season. [TampaBay.com]

Puck Buddy Comment of the Day: Chiming in on the headshot debate, BartK chimes in:

"Basically the rule will be changed in some way very soon because the league has to does something about it or someone will be killed. It’s because so many of the players have no respect for one another now. The check technically was legal based on the current rules but Cooke should have realized he was vulnerable and let up a little. That’s the main problem here, showing respect for your fellow player. It’s ironic because most of the hits come from marginal players on the lower end of the salary range that could be out of a career if they ever took a hit like that. Checking needs to stay in the game and there will still be hard hitting in the game as proven in the Olympics, but the marginal stuff needs to go and it has to begin with the players knowing better. If they don’t know better or choose not to respect one another they will ruin it and the league will step in and change the rule. The Olympics had some great hitting and that was with their ‘hits to the head rule’, so you can’t say it will take the hitting out of the game, it will just help to get rid of the questionable hits that ruin the game."

Bold Prediction: The Anaheim Ducks are the only home team to win tonight.

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