Puck Headlines: Ward returns Wednesday; Blues/Star Wars collide

Here are your Puck Headlines: A glorious collection of news and views collected from the greatest blogosphere in sports and the few, the proud, the mainstream hockey media.

-Your Three Stars of the Week: Washington's Nicklas Backstrom(notes), Stephen Weiss(notes) of the Florida Panthers and Matt Duchene(notes) of the Colorado Avalanche. [NHL]

-Good news 'Canes fans. Cam Ward(notes) is expected to be in goal Wednesday night against New Jersey after suffering a deep leg laceration on November 7th against Columbus. [Canes Now]

-Live near St. Louis? Like Star Wars? Like dressing up as a Star Wars character in public? Then you're in luck because it's "Star Wars Night" as the Blues host Colorado tonight. Anyone in costume can get 50% off a lower bowl ticket for tonight's game. May the force be with you. [Blues]

-In his latest blog, the CBC's Elliotte Friedman touches on those never-ending Vincent Lecavalier(notes) rumors and his latest "30 Thoughts". [CBC]

-Did Phil Kessel(notes) try to sway Marc Savard(notes) from re-signing with the Bruins? [Stanley Cup of Chowder]

-The story of how the Montreal Canadiens informed Elmer Lach hours before Friday's centennial ceremony that his No. 16 would be retired to the Bell Centre rafters. [Montreal Gazette]

-Mirtle has a good article on NHL players and how they're using Twitter that's worth checking out. Agent Allan Walsh will be doing a live chat on Tuesday discussing social networking and the marketing of NHL players. [Globe & Mail]

-Sitting 11th in the Western Conference, a 1-5-3 record in their last nine games and goaltender Steve Mason(notes) struggling in his sophomore season, Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson gives head coach Ken Hitchcock a vote of confidence: "Hitch is safe. To suggest otherwise is just ludicrous. It has not even entered anybody's mind. It's not something we'd even consider." [Columbus Dispatch]

-A new NHL statistic is upon us: Points Per Shift. [On Goal Analysis]

-The third annual Hockey Weekend Across America is set for January 29-31. [USA Hockey]

-Bringing corporate sponsorship to the NHL awards and slapping a big giant Nike swoosh on the Stanley Cup. [Hockey Independent]

-The Hockey News wants to inform you that it's okay to begin watching Minnesota Wild games again. [THN]

-Mike Chen praises the San Jose Sharks broadcast team of Randy Hahn and Drew Remenda and expains why they're the best in the NHL. [Kukla's Korner]

-Chris Osgood's(notes) isn't happy with his play this season: "For me, personally, I've got to get to the level I've been in the playoffs for this team right now." [Snapshots]

-Tom Benjamin smelly something fishy about Brendan Shanahan's(notes) hiring by the NHL. [Canucks Corner]

-Ranking the best managed teams of the past decade. [Bird Watchers Anonymous]

-Finally, here's video of Brad Stuart's(notes) big hit on Artem Anisimov(notes) of the New York Rangers last night: