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Puck Previews: Jagr back in Pittsburgh; Winter Classic future

Sean Leahy
Puck Daddy

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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.

• There's so many Hockey Hugs going on in this photo I'm not sure if Mooney will rate them individually or as one big group. [AP]

Preview: Philadelphia Flyers at Pittsburgh Penguins, 7 p.m. ET. Losers of four of their last five, the Flyers have their final tuneup before Monday's Winter Classic matchup with the New York Rangers. Max Talbot and, more importantly to Penguins fans, Jaromir Jagr return to Pittsburgh. Jagr last played in Pittsburgh during the 2008 playoffs and is sure to lustily booed throughout the night after deciding on the Flyers over the Penguins over the summer. The Flyers won the first meeting of the two teams earlier this month 3-2 and try to avoid losing three in a row for the first all season.

Preview: Montreal Canadiens at Tampa Bay Lightning, 7:30 p.m. ET. After getting head coach Randy Cunneyworth his first win on Tuesday night, the Canadiens try and end a 6-game road trip on a high as they play their next-to-last game away from Bell Centre. Montreal broke a 5-game losing streak with their highest offensive output of the season against Ottawa. Tampa Bay enters the game winners of three of their last five and with a new No. 1 netminder in Mathieu Garon who has started 14 of the Lightning's last 16 games.

Preview: Los Angeles Kings at Winnipeg Jets, 8:30 p.m. ET. The Kings improved to 3-0-1 under Darryl Sutter with a 2-0 win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday night. Jonathan Quick's strong play (won four of last five) has helped the Kings' turnaround, but tonight Jonathan Bernier will likely get the call on the second night of a back-to-back. But a win in Winnipeg won't be easy as the Jets boast the NHL's sixth best home record at 12-6-1. Forward Patrice Cormier was recalled Thursday after posting six goals in eight games for the St. John's Ice Caps of the AHL. If Cormier is in the lineup, it'll be his first appearance with the Jets this season.

Evening reading

• NHL COO John Collins on multiple outdoor games in a season down the road: "Absolutely, there should be more Canadian teams in these games," said Collins. "Just like teams like Minnesota should be involved and St. Louis should be involved and Colorado should be involved — you can just keep going on and on." [Globe & Mail]

• Reminder: Be sure to be checking out Y! Canada's Buzzing the Net for all of your World Junior Championship coverage.

• What players had the best 2011? [NHL.com]

• Darren Helm will miss the next two games for the Detroit Red Wings after injuring his groin during today's morning skate. [MLive]

• Finally, Max Friberg of Sweden scored the eventual shootout winner over Switzerland yesterday and decided to celebrate like Tiger Williams:

Puck Buddy Comment of the Day: "Tompa" on Drew Doughty's, uh, interesting goal celebration with Jarret Stoll:

"After watching Stoll put it in, Doughty wanted to stickhandle a bit himself. Maybe some of it will rub off on him? Stoll is a handful though, wouldn't want to pull his groin."

Bold prediction: Jaromir Jagr scores in Pittsburgh and does the salute, but the Flyers fall 3-1.

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