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.
Sean O'Donnell skates past a Kings' player that appears to have no neck and only one leg.
Preview: New York Rangers at Washington Capitals, 7:30 p.m. EST
The best team in the Eastern Conference versus the team most expected to be. There's a lot of pride on the line in this one, as the Rangers look to continue their great run of late, and the Capitals look to put an end to their crappy one. A multi-point game from Alex Ovechkin would help. It's been 23 games since he had one. Looks like Tomas Vokoun will get his first start since December 13th. The Caps desperately need him to not be rusty.
Preview: Los Angeles Kings at Chicago Blackhawks, 8:30 p.m. EST
Don't look now, but the Kings are 2-0-1 under Darryl Sutter. Will they ever lose in regulation again? Based solely on the three-game sample size: no. Granted, San Jose, Anaheim, and Phoenix aren't the same calibre of opponent as Chicago right now. The Hawks have beaten the Kings seven straight times, and six straight at the United Center. Big test for LA here.
Preview: Minnesota Wild at Nashville Predators, 8 p.m. EST
One team is going to capitalize on the others' misfortune Wednesday night. Both teams will be without their top defensemen, as Shea Weber and Jared Spurgeon sit this one out with a concussion and a lower-body injury, respectively. That said, the Wild have also lost 7 straight, so we'll give Nashville the upper hand here.
Preview: Vancouver Canucks at San Jose Sharks, 10:30 p.m. EST
The Canucks kick off their three-game California road trip in San Jose, where they've won four of their last five. The Sharks could use a win if they want to go into 2012 leading the Pacific Division, rather than on a two-game losing skid. The return of Douglas Murray will help, as will the absence of Canuck winger Chris Higgins, who has yet another (or the same) mysterious infection. At this point, a zombie bite is as viable an explanation as anything else doctors can come up with.
• Angela Ruggiero, one of the greatest women's hockey players ever, announced her retirement today. [Detroit Free Press]
• A 360 panoramic view of the Citizens Bank Park Winter Classic ice. [The 700 Level]
• With Blake Comeau returning to the Island Thursday night, we were kind of hoping he'd take a shot at his former team. Apart from "the communication here is a lot better", he was pretty calm about it. Still, he's probably hoping for a big game. [LF Press]
• The Erie Otters with a contender for ugliest jersey ever. [Reddit Hockey]
Puck Buddy Comment of the Day: Joe, on the Rangers' recipe for success:
I agree that Lundqvist makes the Rangers one of the best teams in the league, but you have to acknowledge Martin Biron also. He's 7-1 with a .933 save % and a 1.84 GAA. That's awesome, especially for a backup goalie.
Bold prediction: Like, 11 shots total between the Preds and the Wild.