Puck Previews: Havlat’s back; Blue Jackets to beat up on Red Wings?

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.

Preview: San Jose Sharks at New Jersey Devils, 7:00pm E.T.

The Sharks are 1-3-0 to start the season. What's been the problem? No Martin Havlat. Thankfully, that gets remedied tonight, as the winger makes his debut with San Jose, lining up on the second line with Ryane Clowe and Logan Couture. What's that? You think I'm overestimating Havlat's impact? Well, how else to explain San Jose's shaky start? It's either Havlat's absence or the loss of Kyle Wellwood, as far as I'm concerned. This should be a good tilt. Despite their early record, the Sharks are a good team, and despite what we saw last year, the Devils appear to be a good team now too.

Preview: Columbus Blue Jackets at Detroit Red Wings, 7:30pm E.T.

The Red Wings are undefeated to start the season; the Blue Jackets look terrible and are winless. In short, I'm fairly positive I know how this one is going to go: upset blowout. Get ready to vomit with surprise.

Preview: Carolina Hurricanes at St. Louis Blues, 8:00pm E.T.

Two mediocre hockey teams go at it in what will likely be a mediocre game, but there's an interesting subplot here. This contest marks the first time the brothers Stewart, Anthony and Chris, will play against one another. Will they fight one another at center ice with the family birthright on the line? Probably not. Will they skate past one another a few times? Oh man, you better believe it.

Preview: Dallas Stars at Anaheim Ducks, 10:00pm E.T.

Did you know that, in 11 games this season, these two teams have nine wins? Did you also know that these two teams have mediocre defense corps and a buttload of power forwards? This game is going to be very entertaining. The Mike Ribeiro line is in for a tough test tonight, as they've been poor defensively through their first six games (so says Defending Big D) and, since Randy Carlyle knows this and is the home coach, they'll likely find themselves playing a lot against the Getzlaf and Perry line.

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:

• Mark Spector upset some (read: most) Canuck fans with his open letter to them today. Then he claimed I helped him write it, so as to tank my street cred in Vancouver, the city in which I live. I'll be downstairs, boarding up my windows. [Sportsnet]

• Kerry Fraser, on how secondary assists are handed out. It's dice. [TSN]

• For the first time in team history, there is no one from the Greater Toronto area on the Toronto Maple Leafs roster. That's right, locavore Torontonian hockey fans: none of your team's truculence is homegrown. [The Star]

• Super interesting article on testosterone and the daddy effect on professional hockey players. Turns out having a kid changes you in more ways than one. [Vancouver Sun]

Puck Buddy Comment of the Day: "The Hoo", on Roberto Luongo:

It's the same thing every October here in Vancouver. Luongo's been pretty good here, there's no disputing the numbers. He gets off to slow starts pretty much every year. As for the contract, save your boos for management for that. Luongo would have to have been a fool to turn that offer down. He's a good goalie and you're kidding yourself if you think most teams wouldn't love to have him.

As for the playoffs, yes he completely blew those games in Boston. I wouldn't argue if after the first one you chose to put Schneider in for the other trips to Boston. Luongo looked rattled in those games, he clearly wasn't the best choice. What people overlook though was that the Canucks forwards couldn't beat Tim Thomas anyway. They scored 7 goals in regulation in 7 games. The Bruins were the better team in that series, a team that could play a long series and grind out wins even though they might have had less talent up front, and Tim Thomas was legendary all year long. That's not Luongo's fault.

Now let's go burn something, it's Friday!

I'm with you, especially on the part where we burn things.

Bold prediction: I already predicted Columbus to beat Detroit tonight. But I see how it is. You want it bolder. Okay, you got it. I predict Columbus to beat Detroit tonight.

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