A preview of this afternoon's games

More studious hockey fans probably aren’t bothered by this, but on occasion, I will be taken off guard by an early Saturday afternoon game. Well, this happened more often in my uncouth college years, but that’s another discussion for another time. 

Let’s take a look at today’s two afternoon games (tonight’s games will be previewed later).
Dallas Stars (28-23-12, 68 pts) at Pittsburgh Penguins (38-22-4, 80 pts) 1:00 PM ET
Hey, Kari Lehtonen, great to see you again. How are you feeling? Good, that’s great to hear buddy. Now get out there and play against Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
Boston Bruins (28-23-11, 67 pts) at New York Islanders  (26-30-8, 60 pts) 2:00 PM ET

It might not look like the Bruins are particularly safe in seventh place right now, with just a one point lead on the Thrashers, Rangers and Canadiens. They can make up a decent amount of ground on the Rangers and Habs with a few games in hand, though. From the Islanders perspective, they might just want to let the unnecessarily hot Carolina Hurricanes pass them by so that GM Garth Snow can have a better chance to win the Taylor Hall lottery.

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    Personal reasons: No Ovechkin for Caps tonight

    Alex Ovechkin
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    Alex Ovechkin won’t play for the Washington Capitals on Tuesday because of personal reasons, the team confirmed.

    He entered the building considerably later than usual, but his presence at least opened the door for the possibility of No. 8 suiting up against the San Jose Sharks.

    Instead, the Capitals will face the hot-starting Sharks without Ovechkin (personal reasons) and Nicklas Backstrom (injury).

    That’s a tall order, yet it’s also an opportunity for Barry Trotz to prove his system is a difference-maker … and that the Capitals have the young players to take up the mantle when the big stars are out

    This is how Washington’s forward lines may look tonight:

    No, the Capitals have not shared details regarding what his “personal reasons” might be, by the way.

    Bruins put Morrow on IR, bring up Cross

    Brady Skjei, Joe Morrow
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    Lower-level defense is not the biggest of many worries for the Boston Bruins, yet it might be another in a series of headaches.

    CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty points out that Joe Morrow has been placed on IR while AHL stalwart Tommy Cross was called up.

    With a -3 rating and negligible offensive impact so far, few will really be missing Morrow (pictured). From the way Haggerty describes Cross, it’s a pretty cool story if he gets into the lineup:

    Cross was named captain of the Providence Bruins this season, and actually had a strong training camp as the hard-hitting, tough stay-at-home defenseman he’s developed into during his five years in the B’s minor league system. The 2007 second round pick was a highly regarded potential puck-moving defenseman when he was drafted prior to his Boston College career, but a series of knee injuries negated some of his speed and puck-moving capabilities.

    Granted, the Bruins would prefer a sure-thing improvement over a feel-good story right now, as this 0-3-0 start marks their worst beginning in some time.

    Injuries have been an issue in general, too, with Zdeno Chara‘s slow start mixed with Dennis Seidenberg on the mend and Brad Marchand in limbo.

    The Bruins’ next game comes against the Avalanche in Colorado. Maybe they’ll start to mend things on the ice?