Puck Previews: Blackhawks vs. Blues; Oilers cheerleader petition

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: Chicago Blackhawks at St. Louis Blues, 8 p.m. ET. Amazing Blues Fact No. 1: Danica Patrick is dropping rubber tonight. Amazing Blues Fact No. 2: The Blues are wearing pink laces tonight for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Amazing Blues Fact No. 3: T.J. Oshie(notes) fancies himself as a cook and loves to grill up bison filet. Meanwhile, those issues of depth for the Blackhawks are being answered by a solid fourth line of Viktor Stalberg(notes), Jack Skille(notes) and Jake Dowell(notes). Watch the Game Live via Hockey Night on Y!

Preview: Minnesota Wild at Vancouver Canucks, 10 p.m. ET. Jose Theodore(notes) gets the start against the Canucks, where he'll face Cory Schneider(notes), making his second straight start at home. Good state of the ‘Nucks post over on Canucks Hockey Blog: "The Canucks aren't scoring as much but they're not allowing as many goals against either. Given this, it's probably not surprising that their powerplay isn't as good but their penalty kill is better." Watch the Game Live via Hockey Night on Y!

Check out previews and updated scores for all of today's games on the Y! Sports NHL scores and scheds page. For tonight's starting goalies, check out Left Wing Lock.

Evening Reading

• There's a petition to get the Edmonton Oilers to reconsider adding cheerleaders to their games. And as of 7 p.m. it was up to an overwhelming 139 signatures! So, guess there'll be cheerleaders then ... [Slam Sports]

• Can the Washington Capitals corral the shift length for players like Alex Ovechkin(notes)? [Japers' Rink]

Adam Foote(notes) is out with a concussion. [Denver Post]

• Canucks coach Alain Vigneault on the Rick Rypien(notes) suspension: "Anybody who knows Rick personally knows he's a quality individual and an honest person who wants to become the best player he can. ... He's run into a series of unfortunate bad luck as far as hockey is concerned. That can be challenging. In our mind, he's got the full support of myself and our organization." [Faceoff.com]

• Meanwhile, the ‘Hat had a good take on Rypien that focused on the backlash against fan behavior: "While a lot of people saw it the way Bettman did - as a black-and-white issue - some wanted to use the incident as a forum on the conduct of fans at sporting games, and how sick and tired they were/are of having to tolerate the drunken musings of the loudmouth in the next row, who is constantly spilling beer; using profanity within earshot of their children; and generally acting in a way that makes them vow never to spend $100 or more to enjoy (!?) the live fan experience." [Globe & Mail]

• Can Winnipeg support an NHL team? [NY Times]

• Preview of Elliotte Freidman's HNIC piece on concussions. [CBC Sports]

• The Florida Panthers are going to hoist a banner for Bill Torrey, making him the first individual to have that honor from the Panthers. [On Frozen Pond]

• It's up to Terry Murray to decide when Matt Greene's(notes) back in the lineup for the Los Angeles Kings. [LA Kings Insider]

• "Slap Shot" being named the best hockey movie of all-time, we can deal with. The Toronto Star using a Photoshop from Google Images depicting the Hanson Bros. as members of the Columbus Blue Jackets on top of the article? Not so much. [Twitpic]

Puck Buddy Comment of the Day: From John C. on the Phoenix Coyotes' attendance:

Phoenix is not some bow-wow team that's unwatchable. They have a good young team that plays a good brand of hockey.

I just don't get it. If fans won't come out and buy tickets (sorry PHX fans, but the NHL was, is, and will likely always be a gate-driven league), then at some point the league has to ask the question "how much longer do we throw money into a sinkhole for a team that clearly doesn't draw?"

You contracting folks- understand that the existing owners would have to buy out those franchises (as per the league bylaws). Figure each franchise would cost approx $200mm to buy out (not to mention the NHLPA would fight this tooth and nail at the notion of losing NHL jobs). So contracting two NHL clubs would cost the existing 28 owners approx $14.3mm each. 10 clubs? Each of the 20 existing owners would be coughing up upwards of $100mm each. In cash. Not to mention the unholy crap-fight from the NHLPA over losing 230 NHL jobs. Plus, take away markets and you lose hockey revenue from these clubs as well as a likely drop in rights fees.

Good stuff in the comments today.

Bold Prediction: Daniel Alfredsson(notes) has a 3-point night and reaches 1,000 points against the Buffalo Sabres.

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