Puck Headlines: Philadelphia Flyers, Washington Capitals ready to go ‘Patrick Division' on each other

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: Philadelphia Flyers at Washington Capitals (7 p.m. EST; TV: CN8, CSN). Hockey is so much better with animosity. The Capitals and Flyers don't get along much, including an interesting bit of back and forth between the coaches today. Japers has the preview for your review.

Preview: New Jersey Devils at Carolina Hurricanes (7 p.m. EST; TV: MSG). The Devils are 8-1-1 in their last 10 games against the Hurricanes. Meanwhile, Brandon Sutter watched his dad Brent take an embarrassing spill during the morning skate. Rookie.

Preview: Minnesota Wild at Boston Bruins (7 p.m. EST; TV: VS). Manny Fernandez was expected to start for the Bruins, and Aaron Ward was a game-time decision. Marian Gaborik's surgery was successful; only 14 more weeks to go!

Jeff Carter gets the SI pop culture grid treatment. Favorite catchphrase? "'Whatever' ... It's kind of how I go through my day." Thanks, chick from "Clueless." [SI]

Mats Sundin says without any doubt, hesitation or equivocation that he'll make his debut for the Vancouver Canucks against Edmonton this week. Or maybe against St. Louis. [Sportsnet]

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Preview: Ottawa Senators at Buffalo Sabres (7 p.m. EST; TV: RSN, MSG). Sounds like somebody's been sharing water bottles again: Defensemen Toni Lydman and Teppo Numminen are battling the flu for the Sabres. But Craig Rivet should be back in the lineup for the first time in 11 games.  

Preview: Florida Panthers at Toronto Maple Leafs (7:30 p.m. EST; TV: TSN, FSFL). Tomas Kaberle on the potential jeering for Bryan McCabe's return to Toronto: "You always get two sides of crowds. Obviously, when you play here for so long, you're going to get booed anyway. But it doesn't really matter for him or for me."

Preview: Columbus Blue Jackets at Detroit Red Wings (7:30 p.m. EST; TV: FSOH, FSD). The Wings are looking for their fourth win in a row. Steve Mason gets a chance to rebound from a rare stinker against Ty Conklin. The Jackets also optioned Nikita Filatov and Stefan Legein down to Syracuse; Filatov, after the world juniors he had, was a bit of a surprise.

• Dave Pagnotta and I discussed this over on TFP's radio show this afternoon, and Mirtle agrees: The Minnesota Wild might be better off letting Niklas Backstrom walk, keeping Josh Harding and spending well-saved money elsewhere. [From the Rink]

• The NHL spills the beans on its revamped skills competitions for the all-star game, a.k.a. how they'll decide overtime by 2020. [NHL]

Preview: Atlanta Thrashers at Pittsburgh Penguins (7:30 p.m. EST; TV: SS, FSPI). The Pens try to break out of their slump against a Thrashers team that should have Kari Lehtonen in net but will miss center Bryan Little, the key to their best offensive line this season. (That the name "Kovalchuk" is not on that line speaks volumes about their struggles.)

Preview: Colorado Avalanche at Nashville Predators (8 p.m. EST; TV: ALT). Pekka Rinne gets the call in goal against Andrew Raycroft. The Preds are going to sponsor an essay contest with the title "What Diversity Means To Me." Our submission will deal with how some teams win playoff rounds, and others don't. 

Preview: Chicago Blackhawks at Phoenix Coyotes (9 p.m. EST; TV: CSNC, FSAZ). No Patrick Kane tonight for Chicago, but he might give it a go in Denver.

Preview: Los Angeles Kings at Anaheim Ducks (10 p.m. EST; TV: FSPT). Randy Carlyle had a frank take on the Ducks fortunes near the midway point of their season: "We've found ways to give points away, and that cannot continue ... You have to be smart, and we have not been smart enough. That's a criticism that's pretty easy to make when you take the number of penalties that we take."

Preview: San Jose Sharks at Calgary Flames (10 p.m. EST; TV: CSBA, RSW). The Sharks are on a 7-1-4 streak, which is what qualifies as a slump for them. Could the Sharks send five players to the all-star game in Joe Thornton, Dan Boyle, Evgeni Nabokov, Patrick Marleau and Rob Blake ... and yet have none of them start?

• Here are your AHL Canadian all-stars. [AHL]

• Finally, the Iowa Chops ... ahem, "Baby Backs" want to spread their holiday cheer for you.

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