Tonight's games: Test your might

Tonight’s slate of games look extremely promising – on paper, at least. There are two great games in the Western Conference, one bitter rivalry match and a few gut check opportunities to boot. Let’s take a look at Wednesday’s offerings, including the standout duo.

Today’s Best

Los Angeles Kings (39-22-4, 82 pts) at Chicago Blackhawks (43-17-5, 91 pts) 8:30 PM ET

This game puts together two teams that share some interesting similarities but also some glaring disparities. Both the Kings and Blackhawks feature mostly youthful core players along with solid veteran role players, defensive minded coaches and average goalies. Los Angeles might be a year behind Chicago, though, and their roster is as low-risk as the Blackhawks’ is now-or-nothing (we’ll discuss that later this week). This should be intriguing.

Vancouver Canucks (41-23-2, 84 pts) at Phoenix Coyotes (39-22-5, 83 pts) 10:00 PM ET

You really have to hand it to the Vancouver Canucks for playing so well in less than ideal circumstances. They’ve been hot lately (7-3) which is impressive considering the fact that they’re on a historic road trip. With the Sharks far, far ahead in first place, the light at the end of the tunnel for Phoenix would be holding onto the fourth seed.

Jump for the remaining games.

Dallas Stars (29-24-12, 70 pts) at Buffalo Sabres (35-20-9, 79 pts) 7:00 PM ET

This is a tale of two goalies. While Ryan Miller is becoming about as close to a household name as a goalie can get, Marty Turco is fighting for his future. Then again, if Turco keeps playing like he did against Washington, he might just stay in Dallas. (I still doubt that, though.)

New York Rangers (29-28-9, 67 pts) at New Jersey Devils (38-23-3, 79 pts) 7:00 PM ET

It’s good that this game gets a natural bump from being a rivalry match because the two teams aren’t bringing much to the table right now. The Rangers have slipped out of the top eight with a three game losing streak. The Devils are in a considerable slump right now, going 3-6-1 in their last 10 games.

Carolina Hurricanes (27-31-7, 61 pts) at Washington Capitals (44-13-9, 97 pts) 7:00 PM ET

OK, let’s see how hot the Carolina Hurricanes really are. Washington narrowly missed extending their home winning streak when they lost to Dallas in a thrilling game. 

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    Lightning lament life as a .500 team

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    The Tampa Bay Lightning have plenty of time to rise above mediocrity, yet it still must be deserving to finish at .500 for two straight months.

    After last night’s 3-2 loss to the New York Islanders, that’s exactly where they find themselves:

    Record at the end of October: 5-5-2

    Record at the end of November: 11-11-3

    As of this writing, the Lightning found themselves on the outside looking in at the playoff picture. It all stands as a pretty tough thing for the reigning Eastern Conference champs to swallow.

    The uncomfortable-yet-vital question is: can the Lightning break out of this funk?

    Looking at their schedule, it won’t be easy, at least not right away.

    They crawl through California during a three-game road trip to start December, and they also face six of eight on the road from Dec. 2 – 18.

    The Lightning soak up home dates to finish 2015 after that, but what damage will be done by then?

    Frankly, the Bolts will need to dig deep to break this pattern. If nothing else, they’ve fought with their backs against the wall before.

    Dubinsky won’t change, and he won’t go easy on Crosby


    Sometimes a suspension will shame a player, or at least inspire him to change the way he plays.

    That apparently won’t happen regarding Brandon Dubinsky‘s one-game timeout session for cross-checking Sidney Crosby.

    Dubinsky told Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch that he won’t alter his style, whether it’s against Crosby or someone else.

    “Nope,” Dubinsky said. “You know, I’ve played the same way my whole career and I’m not going to change. The next time I have an opportunity to play (Crosby), I’m going to play him hard.”

    In case you’re wondering, that next opportunity comes on Dec. 21 in Pittsburgh, assuming that both players are healthy and not suspended.

    One can understand Dubinsky’s perspective, although such honesty would be that much more interesting if there’s another incident with Crosby. His initial reaction to the hit was interestingly candid, admitting that his “stick rode up” on his adversary.

    Would that stance – which, from a harsher view, might seem flippant to Dubinsky’s critics – open the door for a bigger future bit of a discipline?

    Maybe, maybe not … but at least his comments aren’t as inflammatory as what John Tortorella said (at least on the record).

    Bad news for Boedker: Coyotes won’t face Sens again in 2015-16


    Sorry Mikkel Boedker, you won’t get to face the Ottawa Senators again this season.

    OK, it could happen if the speedster is traded from the Arizona Coyotes. He could also face the Senators in the unlikely instance that the two teams fight it out in the 2016 Stanley Cup Final.

    Beyond those two possibilities, Saturday night was it, and Boedker must have been licking his chops much like an actual coyote.

    For the second straight game, Boedker managed a hat trick against the Senators, helping Arizona beat Ottawa 4-3 last night. His third tally stood as the game-winner in a 4-3 victory.

    You can watch all three goals in the video above.

    It’s oddly fitting that Boedker has three goals this season … against teams not named the Ottawa Senators.

    Hey, Tortorella called the Penguins whiners again

    John Tortorella

    Don’t forget, the Blue Jackets – Penguins rivalry isn’t just about the bitterness between Sidney Crosby and Brandon Dubinsky; John Tortorella can fuel the fire, too.

    Torts must not have been happy about the one-game suspension that Dubinsky received for cross-checking Crosby, as he channeled his vintage self in essentially calling the Penguins a bunch of whiners.

    You can see from this glorious Sportsnet video, Tortorella said: “Pittsburgh whines enough for the whole league.”

    (He also said the Blue Jackets weren’t going to whine by … whining. Good stuff.)

    As Puck Daddy notes, this isn’t the first time Torts claimed that the Penguins are whiners.

    Both the Blue Jackets and Penguins lost their games on Saturday, but clearly some eyes and ears were still focused on their last confrontation.

    In case you’re wondering, the two teams next face off in Pittsburgh on Dec. 21.