Game Day Preview: The new adventures of old Versteeg

When you reference a
brutal show that was cancelled in 2010, you better do it for a good reason. Well, 2010 happens to be the year Kris Versteeg was dealt from the Cup champion Blackhawks to the Maple Leafs. After subsequent stops in Philadelphia and Florida, Versteeg is back in Chi-town and will once again skate as the Hawks’ third line right winger — exactly the spot he occupied on the 2010 Blackhawks — as the Hawks visit the Preds.

BUFFALO (5-15-1) at TORONTO (11-7-1) The home-and-home concludes tonight in Toronto after the Sabres prevailed 3-1 Friday night. Buffalo won in its first game under coach Ted Nolan and have won two straight for the first time this year. The Leafs will debut newly acquired center Peter Holland after acquiring him Saturday morning from the Ducks. Desperate Leafs acquire Peter Holland from Ducks
( New era begins with a toppling of Toronto
(Buffalo News)
Player to Watch: The Leafs traded for Peter Holland to bandaid a lineup that has been decimated by injuries up the middle, and the 22-year-old center will likely anchor one of the Leafs’ top two lines tonight.
NY RANGERS (9-9-0) at MONTREAL (10-8-2) The Rangers have improved after a slow start and are getting healthy. Dominic Moore will return from injury and Rick Nash is inching closer after skating in a full-contact practice. David Desharnais scored in the shootout to put the Habs over the Jackets Friday, so perhaps that’ll give him a jolt of confidence. Henrik Lundqvist will sit tonight in favor of Cam Talbot. Michel Therrien liked what he saw from Desharnais
(Montreal Gazette) Talbot gets call against Montreal
Player to Watch: Defense-minded Ryan McDonagh has five points in his last four games for the Blueshirts.
PITTSBURGH (12-7-0) at NEW JERSEY (6-8-5) Both teams play their second game in two nights. The Penguins enjoyed a solid offensive output against Nashville while the Devils were shut out for their fifth time in 19 games. The Penguins’ big guns are on track lately and the power play is sixth best in the league. The Devils go with Martin Brodeur, who has two shutouts in his past three outings. Busier schedule pleases Penguins
(Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) Merrill feeling great as he makes his way back from concussion
(Fire & Ice)
Player to Watch: Milkshake enthusiast Evgeni Malkin has eight points over a six-game point streak.
DETROIT (9-5-6) at NY ISLANDERS (7-10-3) Both teams have lost seven of their past 10 and the Red Wings have lost their past seven at home. Thomas Vanek will once again sit, but is close to returning from injury. The Isles are 3-6 since the Vanek trade. New York is 30th in penalty killing and will be tested by Detroit’s 11th-best power play. DeKeyser showing offensive growth
(Detroit Free Press) Islanders aren’t living up to high expectations
Player to Watch: Nowhere in the NHL rulebook does it say mules aren’t allowed to play, so watch No. 93 on the Red Wings who is coming off a three-point night.
CAROLINA (8-7-4) at ST. LOUIS (12-2-3) The knock on the Blues has been their lack of star power up front, but their top unit of Alex Steen, David Backes and T.J. Oshie has been electric. The Blues clobbered the Avs 7-3 on Thursday, led by four assists from Oshie. Hard to find a hole in St. Louis’s game right now. The Hurricanes beat the Ducks in a shootout Friday night, finishing their five-game homestand having earned 9 of a possible 10 points. Eric Staal has 10 points in 19 games and must approach a point-per-game if the Canes are to contend for a playoff spot. Justin Peters continues to carry the load for Carolina while Cam Ward is injured. Bouwmeester carries big responsibilties for Blues
(St. Louis Today) Hurricanes head west to face the Blues
(Canes Country)
Player to Watch: Alex Steen leads the league with 16 goals, is one point behind Sidney Crosby with 24, and is looking to extend a 12-game point streak.
How you should feel about this.
CHICAGO (13-2-4) at NASHVILLE (8-9-2) The Hawks won all five meetings with the Preds last season. With Kris Versteeg back in the fold, the Hawks will try him out on the third line with Bryan Bickell and Andrew Shaw.
Not bad. Smashville have been outscored 17-2 in their past four and are 3-5-1 since Pekka Rinne’s injury. Hawks face former teammates in Nashville tonight
(CSN Chicago) Versteeg thrilled to be back with Blackhawks
(CNS Chicago)
Player to Watch: Kris Versteeg, who’ll flip his previous Blackhawks digits and wear No. 23 in his second stint in Chi-town.

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TAMPA BAY (14-5-0) at PHOENIX (13-4-3) Both teams are powerhouses in their respective conferences and few people predicted such success from either team. Tampa is first in the East and Phoenix is fourth in the West. The Lightning have won both games without Steven Stamkos, but expect a drop-off without the dynamic sniper. The Lightning have won all seven games against the West, to the surprise of many. The Coyotes have been shown the way offensively by their two offensive stud blueliners, Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Keith Yandle, tied for the team lead in points with 16. The Yotes are looking for a rebound performance, however, after surrendering 52 shots in a shootout loss to Chicago. Bolts answer big loss with wins
(Tampa Tribune) Smith’s heavy workload not a concern for Coyotes
(AZ Central)
Player to Watch: No. 2 center Valtteri Filppula has upped his game recently with six points in his past six games.
FLORIDA (4-12-4) at COLORADO (14-4-0) It’s a meeting of the first and second overall picks from the 2013 draft as Nate Mackinnon’s Avs take on Aleksander Barkov’s Panthers. The Avalanche have hit their first bump in the road, losing three of their past five and falling 7-3 to St. Louis. Despite the blowout, Patrick Roy’s club gives up the fourth least goals per game (2.06) and owe their success largely to great team defense. Florida has the fifth-worst offensive production in the league, so you know where to place your bets tonight. Tallon adds youth, size to Panthers in Versteeg trade
( Avalanche ready to work after being humbled by Blues
(Denver Post)
Player to Watch: 6-foot-6 rookie center Nick Bjugstad is getting the hang of the NHL game after playing three years at the University of Minnesota. He has four points in his past five games.
EDMONTON (4-15-2) at CALGARY (6-10-3) Alberta’s teams have combined for three wins in their past 20 games. Calgary was smoked 7-3 by Dallas on Thursday and have lost five straight. The Oilers fell Friday to the Sharks and have also lost five in a row. The good news for Alberta hockey fans is one of their teams will win tonight. On the plus side for Edmonton, Nail Yakupov has scored in two of his past three games. Oilers tell Arcobello he’s staying in Edmonton
(Edmonton Journal) Flames and Oilers set for first Battle of Alberta
(Calgary Sun)
Player to Watch: Philip Larsen has been a regular on the Oilers power play and has looked impressive offensively with five points in seven games.