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NHL weekend preview: A big weekend for both Panthers fans

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December rolls on. The daylight is getting harder to come by. Canada is, I can only assume, completely submerged in ice and snow, and will be until the spring thaw. However, they can trudge on, and so can we, because professional hockey is still being played. There are 11 NHL games Saturday and five Sunday. Here's a closer look at some of the better games. That does not include either game the Florida Panthers are playing. Also, the team is on the road in the Midwest, so they won't even get to enjoy the temperate Miami climate. Life can be cruel.

On Saturday afternoon, the Stars host the Flyers. Philly is playing better recently, so this game looks pretty good. There are a lot of games involving Canadian teams, of course, but only one of them is any good. That game is the Battle of Ontario between Toronto and Ottawa, and even that isn't great, since both of those teams are mild disappointments thus far. Hey, it is better than the Battle of Alberta, which is also happening Saturday.

The best game of the day is clearly Pittsburgh versus Boston, arguably the two best teams in the Eastern Conference, which, admittedly, doesn't mean a ton this year. The Blues host the Ducks, which should be good. Both teams have had strong years so far, and Alex Steen continues to impress. Lastly, the Kings host the Islanders to end Saturday. That's alright, I suppose. It certainly is worth checking in on late in the evening, when all the other games are over or involve Edmonton and Calgary.

Sunday is much better, with four of the five games looking good. The day begins with San Jose visiting Minnesota. The Wild have scuffled a bit, but they are still worth watching, as are the Sharks. Boston is playing Toronto, which is always fun. The Rangers and the Capitals square off, and it isn't even the playoffs. Washington's offense led by Alex Ovechkin takes on the newly even more rich Henrik Lundqvist. Should be good. Then, the Canucks and the Avalanche do battle to end the day. Patrick Roy got off to a strong start by freaking out in his first game as a coach. He's been pretty reasonable since then. Perhaps John Tortorella can bring something out of Roy, or vice versa. Also, a lot of good offensive players in this game, if you find that more interesting than two hothead coaches.

Enjoy the games.


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