Puck Headlines: Are we ready for a Los Angeles Kings-filled, Anaheim Ducks-less Stanley Cup postseason?

Here are your Evening Puck Headlines and Previews: A glorious collection of news and views collected from the greatest blogosphere in sports and the few, the proud, the mainstream hockey media.

Preview: Los Angeles Kings at Anaheim Ducks (10 p.m. EST; TV: FSW, Yahoo! Sports). The Kings begin the night with 57 points in 55 games. The Ducks begin the night with 61 points in 58 games, which is good enough for the eighth seed in the West. Could the Kings pass the Ducks, and potentially keep them out of the playoffs? Only in a year where Mickey Rourke is nominated for best actor for playing a professional wrestler could this happen ... although, for the record, Battle of California's Rudy Kelly doesn't buy the Kings as a playoff team: "We Kings fans haven't had too much to be happy about recently, but we can't latch onto this little bit of success and set ourselves up for the inevitable disappointment.

• Meanwhile, Sammy Pahlsson's clearly been smoochin' with Steve Mason. [LA Times]

• ESPN's Barry Melrose on Alexander Ovechkin vs. Sidney Crosby: "Wow. Ovechkin's been a better player this year, though Crosby was better last year. We're not going to settle it for the next ten years. Crosby may be the more complete player, but the way Ovechkin is playing right now, you have to give the edge to him." And that's why he gets paid the big bucks. Or in beer. One of the two. [ESPN]

• Speaking of Ovechkin, it appears his lady-friend Alyonka Larionov, daughter of Igor, is working for the Pittsburgh Penguins and PensTV. As our buddy JP put it, this news leaves one "to comment on how it's become like a common thing in the NHL for teams to fall in love with AO's... what's the term I'm looking for? Untidy extras? No... Disheveled spares? Nope... Shoddy superfluities? Dammit... it'll come to me." [PensBlog]

Preview: Montreal Canadiens at Washington Capitals (7:30 p.m. EST; TV: TSN, NHLN). Boomer and Thistle made the point during our XM chat today that the Habs have decided to shake up their team at a rather odd time: Right before a game with the fairly hot Washington Capitals. Ryan Dixon of THN believes that Bob Gainey's decision to sit Alexei Kovalev means that he's done with the guy.


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• An interesting stats-based look at the season Kovalev has had. Or hasn't had. [Battle of Alberta]

• The Dave Tippet for Coach of the Year campaign begins. Yes, this would be the guy who couldn't control Sean Avery, and who now looks like a genius for playing a hot goalie every game. Whatever. [Dallas Stars Blog]

Preview: New York Islanders at New York Rangers (7 p.m. EST; TV: MSG+, MSG, Yahoo! Sports). Is this the end of zombie Renney? There are just as many Rangers fans who believe a loss to the Mighty Isle tonight will result in the firing of Coach Tom Renney as there are who think he's safe. But most seem to agree that if he does go, he'll be a symptom of a larger problem with the Blueshirts.

• The NHLPA could be the only ones that can prevent the destruction of many an NHL roster in the event of a salary cap crash. [Snapshots]

• Not to put too fine a point on it, but when a team's official Web site writes that the franchise has "received expressions of interest from potential investors in the team, which expressions of interest are under review," it's both an indication of the offer's strength and the franchise's desperation. [Coyotes]

Preview: St. Louis Blues at Columbus Blue Jackets (7 p.m. EST; TV: FSMW, FSOH). The Blue Jackets are being super-secretive about their lines tonight, which is what happens when the team they're playing has pwned them to the tune of five losses in a row.

• Canadiens GM Bob Gainey told the media the "insides story" of the Vincent Lecavalier trade rumors, which boils down to "the Tampa Bay Lightning were shopping him, and the players involved were all Brian Lawton's idea." Which really is quite different than what Lawton's said about this. The next GM mixer should be fun. [Eyes On the Prize]

• Brian Burke says that trades are coming for the Toronto Maple Leafs, and that a team recently offered "one of the Top 5 picks in the draft for defenceman Luke Schenn." Lawwwton?! [London Free Press]

Preview: Nashville Predators at Detroit Red Wings (7:30 p.m. EST; TV: FSS, FSD). Dan Ellis gets the audition start against the Wings and Ty Conklin. But the big news is that The Mule is ready to return for Detroit.

• Finally, the Chicago Blackhawks continue to make us want to love them, this time with a Blackhawks Ice Dancers photoshoot video. And thank you, Duffy. (H/T The Power Play)

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