Here are your Evening Puck Headlines: A glorious collection of news and views collected from the greatest blogosphere in sports and the few, the proud, the mainstream hockey media.
• A terrific look at the Western Conference playoff bubble, complete with end-of-season predictions. Sign us up for a Columbus Blue Jackets/San Jose Sharks first rounder; but will Vancouver and Minnesota really both miss the cut? [Battle of California]
• Detroit Red Wings General Manager Ken Holland speaks candidly about Chris Osgood's game this season: "Conklin's been fine, Chris Osgood is not even close to where he was last year, but history has shown he's been able to raise his game." [Windsor Star]
The top sports headlines of the day
Preview: Edmonton Oilers at St. Louis Blues (8:30 p.m. EST; TV: RSW, FSMW). Lubomir Visnovsky in on injured reserve for the Oil with a shoulder injury, but can return next week. Perhaps the stranger news: Dustin Penner goes from the doghouse to the penthouse of the Ales Hemsky and Shawn Horcoff line tonight against the Blues. We can only begin to imagine the extent of his celebratory meal.
• Andrej Meszaros is day-to-day for the Tampa Bay Lightning after getting hit by Evgeni Malkin last night. Erik Erlendsson is a little displeased with the NHL's injury policy: "Fans deserve to know the situation before deciding to plunk down valuable dollars to watch a game." [Bolts Report]
• Brian Burke really knows how to sell his talent: ""If you want to be a No. 1 goaltender in our league you have to be able to handle the work load and play 60 games at a high level - and Vesa Toskala hasn't shown he can do that yet." Bet those phones are ringing off the hook right now with offers. [Sportsnet]
Preview: Dallas Stars at Colorado Avalanche (9 p.m. EST; TV: FSSW, ALT). The Stars are going with the same lineup that's helped win them five games in a row, and there seems to be a patter on the top three lines: tough guy, quality pivot, sniper. The mighty Peter Budaj gets the call tonight for the Avs.
• Get through the "don't be a Michael Phelps" opening paragraphs, and Edward Fraser has some good stuff about the NHL opening its season in Europe. [THN]
• There is finally a glimmer of optimism for the Vancouver Canucks, as the line of Mats Sundin, Ryan Kesler and Pavol Demitra played well the other night. Hopefully that will continue, as long as Demitra and Kelser's legs don't give out from dragging someone up and down the ice all night. [CP]
Preview: Chicago Blackhawks at Calgary Flames (9:30 p.m. EST; TV: TSN, CSNC, Yahoo! Sports). Calgary is playing its first game since getting 40 lashes from GM Darryl Sutter. The Hawks continue their second-longest road trip in franchise history, which curiously took them through Las Vegas. They had a Super Bowl party with a Super Bowl pool; naturally, tonight's starting goalie Nikolai Khabibulin won the thing, because he can really use the money.
Preview: Carolina Hurricanes at San Jose Sharks (10:30 p.m. EST; TV: FSS, CSBA). The Sharks have yet to lose back-to-back games in regulation. Had Paul Maurice really made that much of a difference since becoming Carolina head coach?
• The Florida Panthers and New Jersey Nets team up for a ticket deal: "Basically, season ticket holders of the New Jersey Nets basketball team can attend Florida Panthers games when they are down here clogging up our highways, and vise versa (honestly, sounds like a better deal for fans of the Netropolitans)." [On Frozen Pond]
• Wrap Around Curl is not a fan of the NHL's 3G Blackberry Curve giveaway: "WHAT?! I can bid on an already overpriced phone because it was touched by a NHL player for about four minutes and then scrawled on with a silver Sharpie?! Well sign me up! Uhm, in case you were not aware, that was me, dripping with sarcasm. Who the balls thought this was a good idea?" [Getting Nifty in the Clutch]
• Finally ... just give in to the unparralled joy of mascot follies with the Louie of the St. Louis Blues. You know you want to ... c'mon, it has sound effects and everything.