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.
"You're the only one that understands me, Boards Near The Bench. Pucks flying in your direction at incredible speeds. Milan Lucic carelessly crashing into you during games. They way we both resent when Jhonas Enroth is trying to climb over us …"
Preview: Buffalo Sabres vs. Tampa Bay Lightning, 7:30 p.m. EST. The Bolts have 71 points, trailing the No. 8 seed by seven. A Sabres win and a Capitals regulation loss would give Buffalo a tie in points, though not in non-shootout victories. The line of Tyler Ennis in the middle of left wing Marcus Foligno and right wing Drew Stafford has combined for eight goals and 10 assists in the last four games. Ville Leino has one goal in 22 games. Dustin Tokarski goes for Tampa.
Preview: Washington Capitals at Detroit Red Wings, 7:30 p.m. EST. The Caps have lost for the first two games of their 4-game road trip, and face a Red Wings club that went 0-3-1 on the road recently and continues to be dogged by injuries. Jeff Halpren gets back into the lineup for the Capitals,
Preview: Toronto Maple Leafs at Boston Bruins, 7 p.m. EST. The Bruins snapped their 4-game losing streak and moved a point ahead of Ottawa over the weekend. Joe Corvo enjoys press box popcorn for a second straight game. The Leafs are six point out of the No. 8 seed with 10 games remaining and three teams in front of them. Good times.
Preview: New Jersey Devils at New York Rangers, 7:30 p.m. EST. Marty Brodeur vs. Henrik Lundqvist in this one. The Rangers need a point to clinch a playoff berth, but have lost five of seven. Dubinsky on the Devils: "They've got a good team. It'll be a close, hard-fought game, stringy on the D with every inch of ice fought over. That's what makes the games so intense."
Preview: Vancouver Canucks at Minnesota Wild, 8 p.m. Mason Raymond is a healthy scratch and Cory Schneider gets a second straight start for the Canucks, who are six points in back of the Blues for the conference lead with two games in-hand. Clayton Stoner is the Wild's Masterton nominee. Wonder how he'll celebrate if he wins? Or, for that matter, mellow out if he loses.
Preview: Anaheim Ducks at San Jose Sharks, 10 p.m. EST. The Ducks' tragic number for elimination is seven, meaning points they don't gain or that the No. 8 does gain. The Sharks, on the other hand, can claim first place in the Pacific with a victory over Anaheim. The Sharks are turning the corner and Martin Havlat is healthy. Yes, these are related.
• Flyers defenseman Andrej Meszaros will have surgery to remove a small disc fragment in his lower back and will be out six to eight weeks. [CSN Philly]
• Remember when Dustin Brown was rumored to be traded by the Los Angeles Kings? He said it hasn't been extra motivation: "You don't need any extra motivation. Ultimately, it's about just two points. I could care less actually. The last couple of years I haven't had nearly as many points and we've been in the playoffs. So, that's fine. Same thing this year, the main focus for me is getting this team into the playoffs. Some nights, that means scoring big goals, some nights that's not getting any points but contributing in other ways. Regardless of my personal situation, it's about winning." [Mayor's Manor]
• Tomas Fleischmann gets the Masterton nod for the Panthers. [Panthers]
• If you think Reggie Leach should be in the Hockey Hall of Fame, give this petition a 'hell yeah.' [IPetitions]
• The Puck Stops Here now believes Evgeni Malkin is the MVP. [TPSH]
• From last week, but worth a look: Tom Benjamin on the pending CBA war. "Cancelling the European games sends the players the message even without negotiations. If there isn't a new CBA signed the owners are going to lock out the players until they do sign one. Why should Donald Fehr or the players to be in a rush to hear 'We want $250 MM more a year and there will be no more hockey until you give it to us?'" [Canucks Corner]
• Carey Price has a rodeo lariat in his locker that a fan gave him. Why? "He had a sign that said he'd give me his rope if I gave him a stick, so I threw it over the glass." Carey Price is awesome. [Globe & Mail]
Puck Daddy Reader Comment of the Day: The Mustache of Kes on the St. Louis Blues' playoff anthem:
This song makes me want to break plates over my head. That said, it's still better than Chelsea Dagger.
Patrick Kane disagrees. We assume.
Bold Prediction: Shootout win for the Sharks to claim the division lead.