Streaks collide as Sharks visit Blackhawks; Julien defends Cooke (Puck Previews)

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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: Boston Bruins at Buffalo Sabres, 7 p.m. ET

Another visit to Buffalo for the Boston Bruins. Will John Scott singlehandedly win the game by beating someone up again? (Follow-up question: Did he even do that last time?) The Bruins are rolling right now at 8-1-2, and they're rolling even harder on the road, with four straight wins. Buffalo will cross their fingers that Tuukka Rask will completely to be a dud against them. He's been pulled twice in his last four starts in Buffalo, with a 3.62 goals-against average.

Preview: Philadelphia Flyers at New Jersey Devils, 7 p.m. ET

Here we have a match of two teams that have made me feel dumb this year. I thought the Flyers would be better. I thought the Devils would be worse. I know nothing. Danius Zubrus is out and Alexei Ponikarovsky makes his debut for the Devils, who have won five straight over the Flyers, dating back to last postseason. Something tells me Flyers remember that series. (Also, Wysh is at this game. If you see him, tell him to come home.)

Preview: San Jose Sharks at Chicago Blackhawks, 8:30 p.m. ET

The last time these two teams met, both were streaking into the season. Chicago won, putting the second loss in San Jose's win column, and San Jose immediately fell off a cliff. They've lost every game since, and six straight. The Blackhawks, meanwhile, are still unbeaten in regulation at 10-0-3, so the Sharks have an excellent opportunity to end two streaks with one win. They'll be buoyed by the fact that Chicago is without Corey Crawford, who's day-to-day with an injury that looks and quacks like a concussion.

Preview: Dallas Stars at Vancouver Canucks, 10 p.m. ET

Ryan Kesler returns for the Canucks and he'll be the centre of the hour. That is, unless Henrik Sedin has a multi-point night, in which case, he becomes the scoringest, pointiest player in Canucks history. Kari Lehtonen would like to make a little personal history of his own, however. He's never won a game in Vancouver.

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 Goalie Post.

Evening Reading

• Shouldn't be necessary, but Bruins' coach Claude Julien comes to the defence of Matt Cooke: “I’ll be bluntly honest. I looked at the play. If you look at in slow motion, sure it’s going to look deliberate. But in normal speed I don’t believe it was deliberate. But I can understand why Bryan Murray is upset. If I lost a player like that I’d be upset too, but sometimes when you’re upset you’re not being realistic." [CNNSE]

• Still not necessary, but teammate Sidney Crosby stands up for Cooke as well: "With Matt’s history, he probably gets a tough call on that one. I think that’s unnecessary.I think we all saw the play and know what happened and know that it was an accident. If you ask anyone that understands the game at all, they’ll tell you that it’s pretty hard to try to intentionally do what he did. Unfortunately, his past creeps in and people probably give him a hard time. He’s really tried to clean up the way he plays and I think he’s done a pretty good job with that. His past gives him a tough guy, but he’s made a strong effort of making sure that he’s better.” [Canoe]

• How Ryan Kesler's return could soften the blow of the Canucks' inevitable regression. [PlayNow]

• Jean-Sebastien Giguere is taking a brief personal leave from the Avalanche. [Denver Post]

Puck Buddy Comment of the Day: Not that it even matters what post it's from, but "Brad" took issue with the Eugene Melnyk post:

#$%$ you mooney...your a #$%$ idiot!!!!...i/d like to find out where you live!!!!!!

All right then.

Bold prediction: San Jose's streak ends, which means Chicago's does too.

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