Puck Headlines: Granting wish, Penguins ‘sign' 8-year-old

Here are your Evening Puck Headlines and Previews: A glorious collection of news and views collected from the greatest blogosphere in sports and the few, the proud, the mainstream hockey media.

• This is the kind of hockey story that needs to be told more often: The Pittsburgh Penguins sign 8-year-old Jacob (not pictured above, for the record) to a one-dollar contract, granting the young man -- who has cystic fibrosis -- his personal wish and the 10,000th request for the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Greater Pennsylvania and Southern West Virginia. The kid even had a press conference after the "signing." Awesome, and kudos to the Penguins. [Tribune-Review]

• Interesting hockey-on-TV stuff from Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post, who reports that the Washington Capitals have tripled the Washington Nationals' TV audience. He also offers a list of average local households tuning in for their hockey teams in the U.S.; is it possible that the Florida Panthers only attract 2,320 households while the New York Rangers attract 76,568? Is it also possible that the New York Islanders average more fans in the stands (13,762) than households tuning in (12,637)? [DC Sports Bog]

• Some great ratings and attendance coverage from Stu Hackel over in Slap Shot: "It's difficult to accurately assess how the N.H.L. is doing at the gate in some cities, and for all we are forced to rely on the reported attendance figures, but there is no denying that where the game is strong, there continues to be growth and demand." [NYT]

Preview: Atlanta Thrashers at Philadelphia Flyers (7 p.m. EST; TV: SS, CSP, Yahoo! Sports). Danny Briere suffers another injury setback for the Flyers, and now will miss two more weeks of cap space hockey. Antero Niittymaki looks to move to 12-0-0 all-time against Atlanta.

Preview: Buffalo Sabres at Tampa Bay Lightning (7:30 p.m. EST; TV: SUN, MSG). Say what you will about his NHL readiness, but you have to be impressed with how hard Steven Stamkos is working to succeed. Like observing games in a notebook for a 20-minute "classroom" session with assistant coaches the next day.

Preview: Anaheim Ducks at New York Islanders (7  p.m. EST; TV: FSPT, MSG2). Seriously, if Yann Danis is able to lead the Isles to a win and avoid a nine-game losing streak tonight ... well, we just can't see how Garth Snow and Charles Wang can justify not giving him a 15-year contract extension.

• Spector takes a look at 10 teams on the NHL playoff bubble. [Fox Sports]

• Pat Burns is not exactly happy that La Presse reported he's battling lung cancer. "People read a story like that and they think the worse right away. I don't want people to have the wrong picture of me right now." Our prayers are with the guy. [TSN]

Preview: Montreal Canadiens at New Jersey Devils (7 p.m. EST; TV: RDS, MSG). Carey Price is expected to start for the Habs to make sure he's healthy enough to play in the YoungStars game this weekend. Brendan Shanahan makes his home debut for the Devils; better see some classic red and green in the building to honor him.

Preview: Boston Bruins at Toronto Maple Leafs (7:30 p.m. EST; TV: TSN, NESN). Defenseman Aaron Ward could be in the lineup for the Bruins tonight. Meanwhile, Mike Van Ryn is frustrated because he has to pass a concussion test before hitting the ice again.

Preview: Dallas Stars at Florida Panthers (7:30 p.m. EST; TV: KDFI, FSFL). The Stars are in familiar position: really angry about a disappointing effort against a beatable team, in which they played like poo-poo in the third period. Injured Rostislav Olesz could be headed for surgery for the Panthers.

• So either Pavel Datsyuk and Nicklas Lidstrom are nursing injuries ... [Snapshots]

• ... or they're evil fakers turning the all-star game into a complete joke. [THN]

Preview: St. Louis Blues Chicago Blackhawks (8:30 p.m. EST; TV: FSMW, CSNC). Patrick Kane has been mired in bit of a slump, going 11 games without a goal for the Hawks. From Coach Joel Quenneville: "(Kane) is coming off a tough injury that's compromised his effectiveness. He'll come out of it."

Preview: Los Angeles Kings at Colorado Avalanche (9 p.m. EST; TV: FSW, ALT). Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News takes a great look at the season of success for Drew Doughty, who deserves serious Calder consideration even if Steve Mason basically has the thing won already.

Preview: Columbus Blue Jackets at Calgary Flames (10 p.m. EST; TV: FSOH, RSW, Yahoo! Sports). Finally, Kristian Huselius has come back to the Saddledome.

• For the NCAA fans in the audience, the University of New Hampshire has lost co-captain and defenseman Joe Charlebois for the season. [Seacoast Online]

• Finally, here are the new referee and linesmen uniforms the NHL is trotting out for All-Star Weekend. "The jerseys -- 18 percent lighter in weight than current officials' uniforms -- are customized to fit the specific needs of officials, providing increased range of motion and better moisture management." And yet still no place to keep their glasses ... [From the Blueseats]

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