Puck Previews: Rene Bourque vs. Caps; Alabama-Huntsville hockey update

Sean Leahy

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

Preview: Washington Capitals at Montreal Canadiens, 7:30 p.m. ET. He might be on a new team, but the Capitals haven't forgotten about the elbow Rene Bourque laid to the head of Nicklas Backstrom earlier this month. A week and a half later, Bourque was dealt away from the Flames and here we are. There's currently no timetable on Backstrom's return. Aside from retribution on Bourque, the Canadiens have other worries, like turning around their season and making a playoff push as the second half begins. Going 4-9-1 in their last 14 games, Montreal hosts a Capitals team that were blanked by the New York Islanders Tuesday night after winning seven of their previous nine games.

Preview: Buffalo Sabres at Chicago Blackhawks, 7:30 p.m. ET. The Sabres have lost 11 of their last 14 and face a Blackhawks squad that have won three of four and sit a point behind the Detroit Red Wings for the Central Division and Western Conference leads. As Ryan Miller stated on Monday night, no trade will make a difference this season for the Sabres, and that includes removing himself from the situation as rumors repeatedly persist.

Preview: Florida Panthers at Colorado Avalanche, 9:30 p.m. ET. Having not won a road game in their last six tries, the Panthers visit the Avs trying to maintain their Southeast Division lead. Colorado returns home after a three-game road trip looking to increase their output after scoring just six times in their last six games. Shane O'Brien makes his return to the Avs as Brandon Yip heads to waivers.

Preview: Phoenix Coyotes at Anaheim Ducks, 10 p.m. ET. Going 6-3-1 in their last 10, the Ducks have shown some progress after GM Bob Murray revealed everyone but Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu was on the block. The recent success, however, hasn't paid dividends in the Western Conference standings for the Ducks. Currently 14 points out of the eighth spot, Anaheim hosts a Coyotes team who are losers of five of six away from home.

Evening Reading

• Good news: Remember the idiot who beat up a New York Rangers fan after the Winter Classic? His bail today was quadrupled from $100,000 to $400,000. [Reuters]

• This weekend is the KHL All-Star Game and today they announced their list of events in the Skills Competition, including the mysterious "Captains' Duel" which won't be revealed until right before things get underway. The captains this year are Sergei Fedorov and Sandis Ozolinsh. [KHL]

• The president of the University of Alabama-Huntsville revealed the financial plan to help keep the hockey program alive at the school. "Under the new plan, UAH will provide $650,000 to the projected $1.5 million annual budget cited by the school to have a competitive NCAA Division I hockey program. That leaves $850,000 - or 57 percent - to come from other sources." [AL.com]

• Great read about Calgary Flames goaltending coach Clint Malarchuk helping a 15-year old player get through a hockey accident that saw a skate cut him in his throat. [Calgary Sun]

• Cam Cole on Darryl Sutter's switch from the farm back to coaching in the NHL. [Vancouver Sun]

Puck Buddy comment of the Day: "Mr. F" on next year's Winter Classic between Toronto and Detroit:

"is cameron frye going to be invited to the alumni game?"

Seriously. Burning question right there.

Bold prediction: Rene Bourque gets into a "fight" with a Capital and the end result doesn't match the hype.

Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy