Puck Previews: Blackhawks vs. Leafs; Neal returns to Dallas; Hodgson debuts with Sabres

Puck Daddy

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.

Chicago Native Son. Genius.

Preview: Pittsburgh Penguins at Dallas Stars, 7:30 p.m. The last time the Pens visited the Stars, Sidney Crosby dropped the gloves with now-teammate Matt Niskanen. Today in practice, the two staged a mock reenactment of the fight; said Dan Bylsma, "there were some differences of opinion on how everything went down." James Neal returns to Dallas for the first time, as Defending Big D attempts to argue that the jury's still out on the deal.

Preview: Toronto Maple Leafs at Chicago Blackhawks, 8 p.m. Still no Jonathan Toews for the Blackhawks. Cory Crawford faces Jonas Gustavsson. Bruce Arthur landed some hard shots on Ron Wilson and Brian Burke today: "This organization has escaped competitive relevance for so long now, and as it happens again the excuses come to bear. Well, save it. The next 19 games are not just a referendum on the goaltending, on the defencemen, on the forwards, on the coach. They're yet another referendum on Burke, who lords over this entire operation. This is Toronto. Nobody should act surprised."

Preview: St. Louis Blues at Edmonton Oilers, 10 p.m. The Blues are looking for their first 4-game road winning streak since March 2009, and have won two of three against Edmonton. Who will be the next Blues player to earn the weenie hat, and will they be able to withstand the stench?

Preview: Buffalo Sabres at Anaheim Ducks, 10 p.m. A fascinating game on several levels, as the Ducks try to bounce back from a 4-1 loss to Colorado and keep rallying for the playoffs. Buffalo, meanwhile, gets its first look at Cody Hodgson between Tyler Ennis and Drew Stafford.

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

• Examining the strained relationship between ESPN and the NHL. [Puck Drunk Love]

• Dean Lombardi on the Carter/Richards reunion: "Knowing these kids as people, deep down I think they are your classic Canadian boys who will dream of winning the Stanley Cup. That will never leave them. Get some stuff out of your system and get back on track. You're banking on what's deeply inside of them, and they can get sidetracked like any young person." [Hammond]

• Thomas Greiss has a scary Yeti mask. [Backhand Shelf]

• The Classical presents everything on NHL goalie masks. [The Classical, via Wayne]

• Adrian Dater on smoking in the NHL. [SI]

• The struggling Devils shake up their lines: Dainius Zubrus, who had been centering Alexei Ponikarovsky and Steve Bernier, was moved back to right wing on a line with Patrik Elias and Petr Sykora. Jacob Josefson was bumped up to the third line between Ponikarovsky and David Clarkson. [Devils]

• Greg Zanon on the Boston Bruins: "They play my style of hockey." [Bruins Blog]

• Gary Bettman slams Bryant Gumbel for his caustic statements about David Stern. [Post Game]

• Is Cal Clutterbuck too passionate to be an effective leader? [Hockey Wilderness]

Puck Daddy Reader Comment of the Day: Sledge Longfellow on the Dustin Penner divorce:

It is always sad to hear about a marriage that has gone completely to crepe.

Slow clap ...

Bold Prediction: Cody Hodgson has a three-point night, making the Internet explode with Canucks fans' laments and giggles from 29 other fan bases.

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