Puck Daddy - NHL

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.

Puck Previews: Blues vs. Red Wings; Sidney Crosby concerns

Oh that's a thing of beauty right there. Rain rain go away …

Preview: St. Louis Blues at Detroit Red Wings, 7:30 p.m. The VERSUS game of the night and it should be a good one. The Red Wings are trying to win their 11th straight at home, but they haven't beaten the Blues with Ken Hitchcock behind the bench yet this season. One point separates them in the Central Division. No TJ Oshie for the Blues, no Tomas Holmstrom for the Wings. SB Nation St. Louis has more. C'mon … open up those old Norris Division scars!

Preview: Montreal Canadiens at Ottawa Senators, 7:30 p.m. Milan Michalek is back for the Sens. The Habs are hoping that PK Subban's pre-Christmas scratch will shame him into performing better.

Preview: Philadelphia Flyers at Tampa Bay Lightning, 7 p.m. Hopefully the last time these teams met was an indication that the Flyers' stall vs. Tampa 1-3-1 stuff is over. Brayden Schenn is a happy camper, getting back in the lineup for the first time since Dec. 3. Vinny Lecavalier hasn't scored a goal since Dec. 10 against Philly.

Preview: Winnipeg Jets at Colorado Avalanche, 9 p.m. Another start for Jean-Sebastien Giguere​. Apparently, the NHL felt the injuries suffered on Cody McLeod's hit on Jared Spurgeon were the result of a toe-pick for Spurgeon; no hearing from the League. This is the first road game in 17 days for the Jets, facing a team on an 8-game home winning streak.

Preview: Carolina Hurricanes at Pittsburgh Penguins, 7 p.m. Catch these Canes while you can, as our radio buddy Jeff Marek said today that everyone not named Staal, Skinner or Ward is on the block (and maybe LaRose). Meanwhile, the concerns are growing over Sidney Crosby's absence, as he hasn't spoken to the media since Dec. 12 and hasn't practiced since Dec. 5. Matt Niskanen on whether Crosby could be the next Lindros or Marc Savard: "I don't know if any of us have thought of it in that way, yet."

Preview: Toronto Maple Leafs at Florida Panthers, 7:30 p.m.. A big crowd is expected in Sunrise as the snowbirds catch the Leafs in town. The Panthers' new top line with Stephen Weiss out? Tomas Fleischmann, Shawn Matthias, Matt Bradley. James Reimer gets the nod for the Leafs.

Preview: Calgary Flames at Columbus Blue Jackets, 7 p.m. The Flames are going for a season-high fourth win in a row. Columbus has lost five straight and any semblance of happiness.

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 Left Wing Lock.

Evening Reading

• Bruce Arthur on Sid. Great stuff. [National Post]

• The Buffalo Sabres need a winning streak like Ryan Miller needs to ability to legally murder players that run him. [Sabres Edge]

• Discussing Canada's lineup changes for the WJC. [Buzzing The Net]

Richard Bachman authors the disappearance of Andrew Raycroft. [Dallas Stars Blog]

• The greatest comparison between hockey and Hanukkah I've ever read. OK, the only one. [Algemeiner]

Puck Daddy Reader Comment of the Day: From Lucas Pillar on U.S. cities that treat college hockey teams like pro teams (off a Marek Vs. Wyshynski discussion today):

Places like Grand Forks, ND or the small towns in the upper peninsula of Michigan (like Lake Superior State), which are very far from pro sports markets and the marquee college team is the hockey team, are very similar to Canadian junior markets.  Even places like Duluth and Colorado Springs, which are still in the general market of major pro teams, have a similar setting as junior hockey teams.  Then you've got schools like Minnesota and Wisconsin, where they have very large hockey fan bases, but play with big-time football and basketball programs as well.

In Madison, WI, the Badgers are the #1 story, and the media scrutiny is definitely on football first and foremost. Despite the fact that hockey team plays in front of huge, loud crowds every weekend, they don't share the same scrutiny that most CHL kids and equivalent college hockey towns within their market.  They have to answer their questions in press conferences, but the city-wide mania can be deflected to football.  Basically, comparisons to the CHL teams vary.  The schools most similar to CHL teams are the ones in small markets where their other sports are D-II or low level D-I, but have a high-profile hockey team.

And now you know.

Bold Prediction: Stamkos puts two on the board against the Flyers.

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