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Thursday afternoon notes: Dallas/Nashville Rivalry Will Only Get Better From Here

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If it seems like the atmosphere heading into tonight's Predators game is a little extra-charged up with the Dallas Stars in town, the good news is that this is something we should get even more of in the years ahead. Thanks to the new conference alignment the NHL is shifting to for the 2012-2013 season, Nashville & Dallas will become familiar foes, with not only more regular season games between them, but an increased chance of meeting in the playoffs, too.

That means events like the Fistric-Weber hit, along with the Tootoo-Robidas incident of 2007 and the Robidas hit on J.P. Dumont in 2009, is becoming part of the back-story to what should become an increasingly intense rivalry. So while you read this afternoon's hockey notes and get ready for the game tonight at Bridgestone Arena, keep in mind that we're seeing right now is the start of something that will grow even bigger...

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Nashville Predators News

Weber Returns…and So Does The Rivalry With The Dallas Stars - Predators AJenda
AJ puts tonight's game in historical perspective - this will get you in the mood before heading over to the rink.

Paul McCann - Game Day in Smashville - The "Welcome Back Captain" Edition
I'm with Paul, an interesting question for me about tonight's game is who becomes the third scratch, after Colin Wilson and a defenseman. Is it Gabriel Bourque, or a different forward?

Mark Fistric: "It’s good to see Weber is back playing" - Predators Insider
The Dallas defenseman says all the right things heading into tonight's game.

Shea Weber to return tonight for Nashville - Predators Insider
Josh Cooper shares The Captain's thoughts on returning tonight.

Around the Wide Wide World of Hockey

Please welcome your 2012 NHL All-Ottawa, er, All-Star starters - Puck Daddy
Yes, the voting is ridiculously stupid. At least it's only six spots out of both teams combined, however.

Edmonton Oilers lose Nugent-Hopkins to injury | The Hockey Writers
Opportunity for Craig Smith to catch up in the rookie scoring race, perhaps?

The Pros and Cons of the Jackets' Season Thus Far - The Cannon
In what will come as shocking news, there have been "pros" for Columbus.

A thorough look at which NHL players have the most "beerability" - Backhand Shelf
Justin admits to overlooking European players on this list, but I'd have to think Teemu Selanne would be way up there.

Burke decries end of the NHL fighter - The Globe and Mail
As Colton Orr passes through waivers, Brian Burke complains that the players can't police themselves on the ice any more. Is a two-minute Instigator penalty really holding teams back? Why let it, then, if this issue is so important?

Under Armour extends Free Shipping offer for limited time | Hockey Gear HQ
Under Armour has made available a special promo code which gets you Free Shipping on orders over $75, but it's only good for a few more days. For hockey players, they have a wide selection of products to help improve mobility and endurance out on the ice.