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.
San Jose Sharks captain Joe Thornton has been fighting the good fight to stop human armies from destroying the zombie race in RISK: Factions on Facebook. Here is Zombie Joe Thornton, who moves slightly faster than Alive Joe Thornton.
Preview: Boston Bruins at San Jose Sharks, 10:30 p.m. The Sharks failed both of their Battle of California tests recently, so why not try the other coast? From Fear The Fin: "Boston will be a tough test, as they're one of the best teams in the East (a two seed with just five more points than San Jose, go figure). But let's look ahead. After Boston, San Jose plays six of their nine remaining games against teams they are chasing in the Pacific, and one against Colorado."
Preview: Colorado Avalanche at Phoenix Coyotes, 10 p.m. The Avalanche are one point up on the Coyotes, but the Yotes have a game in-hand. Phoenix plays the first of three games without Shane Doan. No Erik Johnson for the Avs. Varlamov vs. Smith. Also, Ryan O'Reilly is a beast.
Preview: Washington Capitals at Philadelphia Flyers, 7 p.m. Travis Hughes's take: "Needless to say, however, this is an utterly gigantic game for the Capitals tonight. The key may very well be shutting down Alex Ovechkin, but we know how to do that: Hit him, get him frustrated, keep him to the outside. Just play a physical brand of solid positional defense on him and you can shut him down. It's possible."
Preview: Nashville Predators at Pittsburgh Penguins, 7 p.m. Alex Radulov makes his return to the NHL, playing in his first game since April 20, 2008. The Penguins are on a 12-0-1 tear, but the Preds have won two of their last three trips to Pittsburgh.
Preview: Vancouver Canucks at Dallas Stars, 8:30 p.m. No Daniel Sedin in this one after that Duncan Keith elbow. Manny Malhotra will replace Sedin in the lineup. The Stars open play with 85 points, tied with Colorado in points but ahead in non-shootout wins. They're one point up on the Kings and Coyotes.
Preview: St. Louis Blues at Los Angeles Kings, 10:30 p.m. The Blues face a Kings team looking for its sixth-straight victory, part of an 8-for-10 winning trend overall. Here's a bit about Jaden Schwartz's rookie hazing.
• Duncan Keith has a phone hearing for his hit on Daniel Sedin, scheduled for Friday. [TSN]
• Tonight is Nikolai Khabibulin's first time back in Tampa since Game 7 of the 2004 Finals. On carrying the Cup: "That's probably one of the best memories for hockey for me. It's the ultimate goal every kid dreams of. When I got here (from Russia), you see how exciting it is for people who have accomplished this already and how everybody is dreaming of it. And once you achieve that, it's a great feeling. When you raise that, it's the ultimate." [Lightning Strikes]
• There's been a trial ordered for "Dennis Veteri, 32, of Glassboro, held on aggravated and simple assault, conspiracy and reckless endangerment in the brawl in which Neal Auricchio Jr., an off-duty Woodbridge, N.J., police officer, was beaten unconscious and seriously injured." A.K.A. the post-Winter Classic beating. [Philly.com]
• Gary Bettman: Ready to talk with the NHLPA about a new CBA when they are. [AP]
Puck Daddy Reader Comment of the Day: From Fisticuffs on the Stanley Cup beer tap handles:
I'd buy an extra case or two because of the Stanley Cup branding.
That said, if they are putting the team logo on the Stanley Cup tap handles for teams that haven't won the cup, it's a major foul. As a Caps fan, I wouldn't drink from a tap bearing a Stanley Cup with a Caps logo on it. I heard a Leafs fan did that in '68... they still can't shake the jinx off of them.
Bold Prediction: The Sharks win on a 3-point night for Joe Thornton against the Bruins.