Puck Previews: Tocchet sends message; Theo back in Denver

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: Tampa Bay Lightning at Nashville Predators, 8 p.m. EST. With one win their last nine games, Lightning coach Rick Tocchet is shaking things up by benching Alex Tanguay(notes) and Jeff Halpern(notes) and dressing eight defensemen. The time is now for Tocchet: "It’s a situation where it’s a shock thing for everybody or . . . I really don’t care what the message is other than the fact that we need results. We need to be able to play 60 minutes, not 30 minutes and because we are down a goal everybody does their own program. Ultimately, that falls on me so we are going to find guys who can stick with the plan.’"

Preview: Washington Capitals at Colorado Avalanche, 9:30 p.m. EST. Jose Theodore(notes) returns to Colorado to face his old team as two of the NHL's top scoring teams face off. Milan Hejduk(notes) is out with a knee injury. The Caps haven't played in Denver since 2006 and Bruce Boudreau plans on giving his lines short shifts to keep their endurance in the thin mountain air.

Preview: Los Angeles Kings at Edmonton Oilers, 10:30 p.m. EST. Oilers goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin(notes) will undergo a spinal procedure and his return is unknown. Jeff Deslauriers will make his 12th consecutive start as Edmonton look to win their sixth in a row. Watch this game live on Y! Sports.

Check out previews and updated scores for all of today's games on the Y! Sports NHL scores and scheds page.

Evening Reading

-Puckheads with NHL Network US, rejoice! They'll be airing all of Team USA and Team Canada's games at the upcoming World Junior Championships along with the entire medal round. If you've missed Gary Thorne yelling "SCORE!", then you'll be happy to hear that he'll be the lead play-by-play man for all the of Team USA broadcasts. For all other games on NHL Network, the TSN feed will be used. Enjoy spending the holidays with Pierre McGuire. [NHL]

-B.D. Gallof continues his excellent work covering the Lighthouse Project saga. [Hockey Independent]

-Two Flyers fans are hoping to raise $5000 to help Blessed Sarnelli Community in Philadelphia and plan to ride a tandem bike to Fenway Park for the Winter Classic. [Broadstreet Bikers]

-Before their game against the Caps, Colorado will honor Mike Keane as part of their "Alumni Night" promotion. Keane is still playing for the Manitoba Moose of the AHL at age 42 still has plenty of hockey in him. [Denver Post]

-It looks like Oklahoma City will be getting an AHL franchise next season. Thanks to PD reader Scott for sending that in [NewsOK]

-Anaheim's offense might be taking a hit as Joffrey Lupul(notes) might need back surgery. [OC Register]

Puck Buddy Comment of the Day: On our "Top 10 Fights" post from this morning, The Unholy Goat rightly defines Derek Boogaard's(notes) puglistic abilities:

I guess they left Boogaard off because what he does isn't so much fighting, it's more like demolition work.

Bold Prediction: Jose Theodore shuts out the Avalanche and Nicklas Backstrom(notes) has a hand in all of Washington's goals in a 3-0 win.