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Puck Previews: Carter back in Columbus; Sabres-Bruins; Pacific Division clash

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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The Royal Half

The Royal Half compares Carters acquired by Los Angeles at the trade deadline.

Preview: Buffalo Sabres at Boston Bruins, 7 p.m. ET

The Sabres/ Bruins season series has been an entertaining one all year, and this game should be no different. The Sabres are rolling, with only 4 regulation losses in their last 19 games. They've moved into a tie for 9th place in the East. Furthermore, they've won the last two versus Boston. However, the Bruins are a grumpy bunch right now and they've won the physical battle against the Sabres more often than not in this series. With both Paul Gaustad and Zack Kassian gone, will they attempt to take out their frustrations an even softer Sabres team? Could be fun times.

Preview: Los Angeles Kings at Columbus Blue Jackets, 7 p.m. ET

Jeff Carter is back in Columbus for the first time, but there's no need for Blue Jacket fans to worry about him burning them for any big goals: as we all know by now, he shuts down once he crosses the state line into Ohio. Still, the fans should be in full-on jeer mode Thursday night, especially after all of them have exchanged their Carters for Johnsons. But there's more on the line than just making Carter look silly: both teams are protecting winning streaks, as the Jackets have won 4 straight and the Kings are looking to reach that same number with a victory.

Preview: San Jose Sharks at Dallas Stars, 8:30 p.m. ET

The recent play of the Sharks and Stars has us in something of a bizarro world, where Dallas is sitting pretty atop the Pacific division, having won 8 of 9, and the Sharks, mired in a slump where they've lost 9 of 11, are hovering on the playoff bubble, tied with 3 teams for 8th place in the West. But the Stars are only 3 up of the Sharks, who have two games in hand, so this game is crucial if Dallas hopes to take control of their own destiny. Also they've lost to San Jose 5 consecutive times, so there's a personal element there.

Evening reading

• Remembering when the Toronto Maple Leafs went to war. [Deadspin]

• Tanner Glass, on the players' stick salute to the Winnipeg fans after games: "Have you seen our home record? It's the least we can do." Sounds like he's a big fan of Winnipeg. [Vancouver Sun]

• A guy on Reddit is soliciting tips in preparation for his chance to win $1 million by shooting a puck into a net at an Ottawa 67s hockey game. He's never shot a puck before. [Metro]

• This dude got a penalty shot in sudden death overtime of a championship game. The dream has been lived. [Boston Globe]

• Bobby Holik on what's wrong with Alexander Ovechkin. [Holik on Hockey]

• Wherein the mascot of the ECHL's Colorado Eagles, can't seem to stop falling down. And then his flag gets wrecked. Rough day at the office for Slapshot.

Puck Buddy comment of the Day: Connor, on the Blue Jackets replacing Carter nameplates with Johnson nameplates:

This is a very good idea on the Blue Jackets part, I wonder how their management will screw it up?

Aw. That wasn't nice.

Bold prediction: A goal apiece for Kyle Wellwood and Tanner Glass, leading Canuck fans to wonder when they'll ever have a third line with two guys that can score like that.

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