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.
Via John Fontana of Raw Charge, Boston Bruins' chairman and CEO Jeremy Jacobs used his 24 hours with the Stanley Cup to bring it to NASA's Kennedy Space Center Thursday afternoon. Here's a photo of the Cup in the cockpit of the Space Shuttle Atlantis. See more photos at Throw the Flag.
Preview: Pittsburgh Penguins at New York Rangers, 7 p.m. EST
The Penguins have won three straight, but they'll likely still be receptive to the substantial boost Kris Letang's return can give them. Letang has missed two months with a concussion, but looks to be ready for action Thursday, which should be helpful against a Rangers team to whom the Penguins have lost four straight. All that said, the Rangers will likely spend more time keeping an eye on Evgeni Malkin, who has 28 points in his last 17 games to jump into a tie for first in league scoring and finally justify my decision to select him first overall in a fantasy draft.
Preview: Ottawa Senators at San Jose Sharks, 10:30 p.m. EST
In recent history, matchups between the Sharks and the Senators have been fairly easy to predict, what with the Sharks being good and the Senators being bad and all that. But such is no longer the case. While the Senators have lost 5 straight to the Sharks, that's about the only negative streak associated with them these days: they're 12-2-2 in their last 16 and they've earned a point in 10 straight road games, one off a franchise record. Also, here's an unexpected tidbit: the two teams have the same number of wins, with 26.
Preview: Calgary Flames at Los Angeles Kings, 10:30 p.m. EST
As if the Kings, who have just one regulation loss since Darryl Sutter took over 14 games ago, need any more good fortune, the Flames roll into town Thursday night. Calgary is currently riding a six-game road losing streak, their longest since 2007.
• Scott Arniel on being fired from the Columbus Blue Jackets: "I'm smart enough to look around the league and notice that six guys, all of whom are probably more qualified than I am, got the same message already this season," Arniel said. "But it has been over a week now and it still bothers me, still gnaws at me. I hate to leave unfinished business. And look: I've been a coach for 13 years; I didn't get stupid in three months." [Blue Jackets Xtra]
• Best hockey-related lede of the day: "Happiness is a warm puppy — especially if his name is Raider and he's recently been rescued from the freezing cold by three Saskatchewan hockey players." [CBC]
• Michael Farber on the risk of signing goalies long-term. [SI]
• Dennis Veteri, the 32-year-old bricklayer charged with assaulting New York Rangers fan Neal Auricchio, has seen his bail quadrupled from $100,000 to $400,000 after the assistant district attorney brought up his history of drug and assault charges, including four assault convictions. [Reuters]
• Since Canuck fans will flip no matter what Zdeno Chara does at the All-Star draft, here's a look at their projected outrage levels for every scenario. [PITB]
Puck Buddy Comment of the Day: Mustache of Kes, on the worst part of Taylor Hall's horrific facial injuries:
Poor kid.. and he's doesn't even get a cool story to go with the scar.
"Grandpa - did you get that scar playing hockey? Was it during a huge fight?" "No Jimmy - it was during warm up"
Yeah, that's a crap story.
Bold prediction: Maybe it's not all that bold since the Kings win pretty much all their games 2-1 and they've won their last 3 home dates versus the Flames by that same score, but I'm saying 2-1 Kings.