We begin in the City of Angels, where the Kings will host Les Habitants in a 12:30 Pacific afternoon delight. Today's lunchtime special features the hometown Kings without Mike Richards, who left Thursday's game just when he was finding his old scoring touch with his new team. The offense takes a hit, but even more importantly, so does that PK. When he has the puck shorthanded, he's one of the most dangerous players in hockey. Can the Habs continue their winning ways against the Kings? They're Thoroughly Modern
Montreal Canadiens @ Los Angeles Kings: 3:30 PM ET - CBC, RDS
For our next stop on our North American tour, we're headed alllllll the way back east to Bah-ston, where the red-hot Bruins are hosting the still surprising Leafs. They've beaten Toronto 3 times already this year, and didn't lose a game in regulation the entire month of November, first time they did it since January 1969! However, the calendar has now switched to December, and this team was in the basement of the East in October. So which Bruins show up tonight? We saw the worst Stanley Cup hangover in recent memory followed by one point shy of a perfect month...to the extremes and beyond!
Toronto Maple Leafs @ Boston Bruins: 7:00 PM ET - CBC, NHL Network
We next head to our Nation's Capital where there was a recent changing of the guards. The Sens come to town, and is the 3rd time the charm for Dale Hunter? The Caps have lost both of his first 2 games 2-1 and have gotten 19 shots off the Blues and 17 off the Pens, including a paltry 2 shots on Marc-Andre Fleury in the 3rd period Thursday night. Here's a note to the Caps if they want to turn the ship around...I know you're learning a new system, but when you're in the offensive zone you will NEVER win games by passing the puck all night and hoping for the perfect shot. Traffic in front of the goalie still helps, try it! Oh did I mention the Caps currently sit OUT of the playoff picture prior to the start of this game? Yeah, they're in a nosedive and they need to turn it around fast.
Ottawa Senators @ Washington Capitals: 7:00 PM ET - CBC, CSN Washington
We keep the train rolling straight through to Tampa Bay, where the Bolts host the en fuego Rangers. The Bolts are great at home, but beyond miserable on the road. Thankfully for them this game is on home ice. The Rangers are soaring high right now, and the Bolts will have a tough time stopping them. They're firing on all cylinders right now, and quickly running down the Pens for the top spot in not only the Atlantic division, but the entire NHL. Can the Lighting strike them down? They'll need to be on top of their game if they're going to put out this fire tonight.
New York Rangers @ Tampa Bay Lightning: 7:00 PM ET - MSG, SUN
We now continue our tour of the Southeast Division, but we have to go north of the border for the next game. Yep, you guessed it, the
New Jersey Devils @ Winnipeg Jets: 7:00 PM ET - CBC, MSG+
We head back across the divider into the states to conclude the Southeast part of tonight's tour, and this time we're headed into Raleigh where the Canes host the East-leading Pens. We know both Jordan and Eric Staal will be on top of their game since they both want to outdo each other. Eric got the bragging rights before U.S. Thanksgiving, but Jordan wants them for Christmas. The Pens played in Carolina a couple weeks ago, and the Pens came back to tie the game in the 3rd period, only to see Eric get the game winner as time ticked down. Can they do it again to the Pens or can Pittsburgh exercise a few demons in a place that has perennially given them fits? This time it's an attempt to win for the first time under their new coach as well.
Pittsburgh Penguins @ Carolina Panthers: 7:00 PM ET - ROOT Pittsburgh, FSN Carolina
Back out west is where we make our next stop. Just recently, Ilya Bryzgalov hosted his former team and beat them. Tonight, he plays his former teammates once again, but this time he's making his first return to Phoenix. What sort of reception will he get? How will he be able to handle everything from the men he used to play behind? Can he have another sharp performance? Chris Pronger is hurt for the 95th time this season already, so he's already got a lousier defense in front of him. Mike Smith meanwhile has been playing out of his mind on a nightly basis. This could be the game of the night.
Philadelphia Flyers @ Phoenix Coyotes: 8:00 PM ET - CSN Philadelphia, FSN Arizona+
Let's hightail it into Music City next, where the Preds host the Sabres. Very good on the road, Buffalo travels to meet a team who hasn't looked all that dominant at home. Pekka Rinne may have contractitis, as in "I just signed a big contract so I'm safe." Get it together buddy, or that big contract won't be in Nashville, it'll be someplace else. Buffalo meanwhile continues to dazzle, at least away from their own arena, and this game is on the road. So we should expect a good showing from the Sabres, right? Well nothing is ever a guarantee, and as the old cliché goes, THAT'S why they play the game! The Preds are still a good team, but they need to play better on home ice.
Buffalo Sabres @ Nashville Predators: 8:00 PM ET - MSG
I say the Phoenix/Philly game COULD be the game of the night, because this one IS my pick for that. Chicago is up to their usual games, in a tie for the division lead. However, right behind them come the Blue Notes. Since Ken Hitchcock took the reins they haven't been playing the blues, they've been jazzing it up every night. Brian Elliott is having the best year of his NHL career, leading the league in GAA and save percentage. Can he put together another brilliant performance against one of the league's most potent offenses? This is one matchup that's sure to be fun to watch, and as I said, game of the night right here folks!
Chicago Blackhawks @ St. Louis Blues: 8:00 PM ET - WGN, FSN Midwest
Once upon a time this game looked like a laugher, now both teams are looking lousy. If this were an NFL game tomorrow, our regular NFL live thread blogger would give this game the "WOOF" distinction. Wake me up when it's over, that's all folks.
New York Islanders @ Dallas Stars: 8:30 PM ET - MSG+2, KTXA
We've got 2 more games to go, and our next stop is north of the border for a Western Canadian battle between the Flames and Oilers in Edmonton. The Flames have been snuffed out lately while the Oilers are oozing with confidence again. The young stars are continuing to grow and impress, while Nikolai Khabibulin continues his midlife resurgence. The Flames have taken a step backwards, while the Oilers are the young team on the rise. They sure are fun to watch, and Calgary could be in for a long night.
Calgary Flames @ Edmonton Oilers: 10:00 PM ET - CBC
Our night capper for this evening is at the Shark Tank. We've circumnavigated North America and made it back to California where we started from. The Panthers continue their west coast swing with a visit to San Jose whom they've beat the last 3 times they've faced this team. The Panthers continue to be one of the biggest surprises, still leading the Southeast division by a fairly comfortable 5-point margin. Can they stay on the prowl and continue their recent dominance of the Sharks, or will the Sharks take a bite?
Florida Panthers @ San Jose Sharks: 10:30 PM ET - FSN Florida, CSN California
As always, this is your place to talk (or bitch) about your team and the game(s) you're watching tonight. Join the party!