Seth Jones


Blue Jackets shrink Flyers’ playoff buffer


The Columbus Blue Jackets are streaking; the Philadelphia Flyers just can’t stop from being streaky.

Columbus edged Philly 5-3 on Thursday, extending a winning streak to six games.

Cam Atkinson managed a hat trick by scoring his third goal with about a second remaining in the contest, Artemi Panarin collected two assists, and the Blue Jackets once again enjoyed nice offense from defensemen Seth Jones and Zach Werenski (an assist apiece).

Again, this simply seems to continue the Flyers’ trend of either being hot or cold. Lately, Philly has been traveling in the wrong direction, as this represents losses in seven of eight games.

The Flyers have to hope that Brian Elliott‘s recent return to the ice signals a looming return to suiting up for NHL action, as Petr Mrazek‘s really been struggling lately. He was pulled from Thursday’s game early in the second period after allowing four goals on just 10 shots. The pending UFA has just one win in his last seven appearances, making it tough to remember that he rattled off three straight victories in late February.

This result didn’t push Philly out of the Metropolitan Division’s top three, but Columbus is breathing down their necks, and the Florida Panthers’ lopsided games in hand situation makes it difficult to tell how much of a buffer the Flyers possess overall.

Take a look at how the bubble looks now, which could end up being increasingly, uncomfortably relevant to Philly:

Third Metro: Flyers – 81 points in 71 games, 33 ROW

First WC: Blue Jackets – 81 points in 71 GP, 32 ROW

Second WC: Devils – 80 points in 70 GP, 31 ROW

Panthers – 77 points in 68 GP, 32 ROW

Bob adds some pizzazz to that playoff outlook. Thanks, Bob. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

As you can see, the Flyers could easily slip into the wild-card ranks thanks to threats from both the Devils and Blue Jackets. Again, they also can’t dismiss the Panthers if Florida can make the most of games in hand. (James Reimer did his part on Thursday, authoring a masterful shutout in a 3-0 win against the Boston Bruins.)

[The 2018 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs begin April 11 on the networks of NBC]

Now, look, the Flyers still find themselves in a decent spot. While they face a closing schedule that’s pretty road-heavy, the Devils and Blue Jackets must struggle with similar challenges. The Panthers also need to stay hot to overtake one or more of those Metro bubble teams.

Still, it’s a bit jarring to see the Flyers even vulnerable to slipping out of the playoff picture, at least after they seemed to pull away from the pack.

Then again, for a team that once lost 10 in a row and then shook that off with a six-game winning streak, maybe that’s just how things are going to go for 2017-18? Ultimately, we’ll see where they land after navigating the peaks and valleys of a bumpy season.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Seth Jones builds Norris case in rallying Columbus


It seems like injuries are the only things that can slow down Seth Jones lately, and that’s exactly what happened as he was sidelined during the third period of the Columbus Blue Jackets’ 5-2 win against the Montreal Canadiens.

Despite that setback, the 23-year-old defenseman extended his multi-point streak to three games with a goal and an assist. Jones now has four goals and two assists for six points during those three contests, helping the Blue Jackets bolster their playoff potential with five straight wins.

You have to wonder if Jones might be getting the attention of Norris Trophy voters in the process.

One delight of the 2017-18 season is that multiple award races continue to build intrigue. Sometimes it feels like there’s a reasonable Hart Trophy candidate for any team within a stone’s throw of the playoffs, at least with Nikita Kucherov cooling off thanks to injuries. Andrei Vasilevskiy‘s Vezina edge has dissolved, possibly due to fatigue. Meanwhile, in the case of the Norris Trophy, John Klingberg no longer seems to be the runaway leader, even if his shrinking scoring advantage probably can be blamed in part by the Dallas Stars’ systemic struggles.

Now, Jones isn’t leading defensemen in goals, though he’s close at 14 (P.K. Subban and Dougie Hamilton are tied for the NHL lead with 15). While those 15 goals and 48 points already mark a career-best for Jones, he’s still trailing Klingberg by a considerable margin, as the Stars defensemen stands at an impressive 57 points.

Possibly pushing the Blue Jackets into playoff position will help Jones’ case, but while this scoring streak brings him more attention, his best argument is probably is all-around game.

Jones doesn’t lead blueliners in ice time – stop if you’ve heard this before, but Ryan Suter is the top guy while Drew Doughty and Erik Karlsson are right there with him – yet Jones does a little of everything, including killing just under two minutes of penalties (1:48) per night.

Beyond fantastic possession stats and nice counting numbers, Jones just seems to check all the boxes. Consider how competently he compares to former Norris winner Drew Doughty, another guy who rightfully gets praised for his all-around game. Via this handy tool from CJ Turtoro using Corey Sznajder’s data, you can see that Jones excels at transition elements of the game, too:

This is not necessarily to say that Jones is the frontrunner, mind you.

Again, he’s not necessarily the top choice in any specific category. He’s a rung or two down the ladder in scoring, with Klingberg and Brent Burns ahead of him. Erik Karlsson still seems to be in a class of his own according to certain metrics. Whether you look at sheer volume of work (Ryan Suter) or excelling in tougher circumstances (check P.K. Subban’s zone starts), Jones won’t be considered the biggest workhorse of the group.

Still, it has to be exciting for the Texas native and those who hyped him up heading into the 2013 NHL Draft, when he “fell” to the Nashville Predators as the fourth overall pick. John Tortorella is clearly gaining more and more trust for Jones, and his game is flourishing with all of those “rover” opportunities.

If his injury doesn’t slow this hot streak, Jones will only continue to work his way into the discussion. At worst, his name deserves to be mentioned among the biggest names among NHL defensemen, and that’s not an easy club to break into.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

The Buzzer: A night of milestones; Playoff race out West gets interesting


Players of the Night

Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals: Not only did he score career goal No. 600, but he was also the best and most dominant player on the ice. He finished with two goals in a 3-2 overtime win and attempted 15 shots, including eight that were on goal. He was everywhere.

Marc-Andre Fleury, Vegas Golden Knights: Fleury was great once again for the Golden Knights on Monday stopping 38 of 40 shots in a 3-2 win. That performance helped him earn win No. 400 in his career.

Matt Duchene, Ottawa Senators: Matt Duchene helped the Ottawa Senators try to play spoiler on Monday night by scoring a pair of goals, including the game-winner, their 5-3 win over the Florida Panthers. The trade for Duchene has not really helped the Senators in the standings, and with only one year remaining on his contract who knows how long he will remain with the team, but he has really picked up the production the past couple of months and is up 17 goals in 53 games with the Senators.

Jimmy Vesey and Mats Zuccarello, New York Rangers: The New York Rangers are not going to the playoffs but they did their part to make sure the Carolina Hurricanes will not be going either. The Rangers’ 6-3 win over the Hurricanes on Monday night was highlighted by Jimmy Vesey’s first career hat trick.

It was also a big night for Vesey’s teammate, Mats Zuccarello, who recorded his 100th career goal in the NHL by scoring a pair in the win.

The Blues are hanging around

Even though they had won just two of their past 11 games, traded one of their top forwards, and recently lost two more key players to injury the St. Louis Blues are still, somehow, hanging around in the Western Conference playoff race. They picked up a huge two points on Monday night with a 4-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks to win their second game in a row on their west coast road trip. They have now scored 11 goals in their past two games after scoring just 14 goals in the 10 games prior to that.

So here is where things stand in the Western Conference playoff race after Monday:

  • The Kings win over the Vancouver Canucks moves them into third place in the Pacific Division, moving them one point ahead of the Ducks after their loss to the Blues.
  • The Ducks, for the time being, fall out of the playoff picture in the Western Conference. They are tied with the Colorado Avalanche with 80 points in the standings, but with the Avalanche having played in two fewer games (as well as having five more regulation and overtime wins) they maintain the second wild card spot. For now.
  • The Blues sit one point behind both the Avalanche and Ducks. The Blues still have a game in hand on the Ducks.

For a look at how things are shaping up in the Eastern Conference playoff race after Monday’s games, click here.

Laine scores again

It came in a losing effort, but Patrik Laine score another goal for the Jets to continue on what has been a ridiculous hot streak. He has now scored at least one goal in 11 of his past 12 games (16 total goals) and is just one goal behind Ovechkin for the league lead. Remember, he is still only 19 years old.

Zetterberg moving up the Red Wings’ rankings

We said it was a night for milestones and accomplishments, so what is one more to add to the list? Henrik Zetterberg scored for the Detroit Red Wings to move into sole possession of fifth place on the team’s all-time goal scoring list, moving ahead of Hall of Famer Ted Lindsay. Zetterberg’s 336 goals trail only Gordie Howe (786), Steve Yzerman (692), Alex Delvecchio (456) and Sergei Fedorov (400) in franchise history.

Highlight of the Night 

It has been a brutal season for the Montreal Canadiens and a disappointing one for Jonathan Drouin, but he still has a ton of talent. Check out this move on the breakaway on Monday night.

The Canadiens were still three goals short but that is a nice move.

Factoid of the Night

Seth Jones did not play in the third period of the Columbus Blue Jackets’ 5-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens but he still ended up scoring the game-winning goal. For the third game in a row.


New York Rangers 6, Carolina Hurricanes 3

Vegas Golden Knights 3, Philadelphia Flyers 2

Washington Capitals 3, Winnipeg Jets 2

Columbus Blue Jackets 5, Montreal Canadiens 2

Ottawa Senators 5, Florida Panthers 3

St. Louis Blues 4, Anaheim Ducks 2

San Jose Sharks 5, Detroit Red Wings 3

Los Angeles Kings 3, Vancouver Canucks 0


Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

NHL Playoff Race: Blue Jackets get big win, Panthers miss big chance

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It was a big night in the Eastern Conference playoff race with a couple of the teams fighting for a Wild Card spot all in action.

Let’s take a look at how things managed to shake out.

Columbus keeps winning when it needs to: The Blue Jackets extended their current winning streak to five games with a 5-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens. It was a bit of a costly win, however, as defenseman Seth Jones did not play in the third period due to an upper body injury. Jones was initially injured over the weekend when he was hit by Colorado’s Carl Soderberg while celebrating a goal. Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said on Monday after the win that Jones aggravated something during the game and was held out of the third period for precautionary reasons.

The win helps Columbus get a little bit of cushion in the Wild Card race and also brings them two points closer to the Philadelphia Flyers for the third spot in the Metropolitan Division due to their loss to the Vegas Golden Knights.

[The 2018 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs begin April 11 on the networks of NBC]

Panthers might regret this one: If Florida ends up missing the playoffs by two points this is probably going to be a night that look back on with some frustration. Playing at home, against one of the worst teams in the league, the Panthers were on the wrong end of a 5-3 decision against the Ottawa Senators.

The Panthers trailed by two goals after the first period and rallied to tie the game, only to lose when Matt Duchene scored the eventual game-winner with just three minutes to play in regulation.

The loss leaves them three points out of a wild card spot, trailing the New Jersey Devils. The Panthers still have two games in hand, which helps, but they still have to win those games. Tonight was one of those games in hand on New Jersey and they missed an opportunity to take advantage of it.

The Hurricanes are done: Truthfully they were probably already done before this, but losing to the New York Rangers, 6-3, on Monday night has to be it for them. It was another tough night for Scott Darling as his nightmare season continued. He stopped only  17 of the 21 shots he faced, with the fourth goal, a game-winner to Jimmy Vesey, coming from a bad angle late in the third period.

Right now the final Wild Card team in the East is on pace for 93 points. For Carolina to top that it would need 23 points in its final 13 games. That would be an 11-1-1 run the rest of the way. They have only won three of their past 12 games. It is over.


Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

The Buzzer: Taking care of business

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When you look on the schedule and see contenders facing teams that are already thinking of the draft and of summer vacations, it’s tempting to pencil in a “W.” That’s not always how things shake out, but in Friday’s case, the three of four matchups that seemed obvious ended up going as expected. Hence, those teams took care of business.

(The Stars vs. the Ducks was the exception, as both teams are in playoff position.)

Let’s review Friday in the NHL:

Old, new, and the usual

  • Still-very-young Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Seth Jones scored two goals to help Columbus take care of business against Detroit. Read all about that CBJ win, and their general upward trend, in this post.
  • Matt Cullen, 41, continues to look quite spry lately. For one thing, he scored a gorgeous goal for his 10th of the season, which was also his fifth goal in 10 games:

Not long after, Cullen seemed like he might score off of a nice Charlie Coyle feed, but was robbed. Perhaps that makes it “OK” that his assist came on an empty-netter, then?

  • Then there were the usual suspects. Jamie Benn collected a goal and an assist while Tyler Seguin collected two helpers as Dallas found a way to gut out a tough regulation win against Anaheim. Meanwhile, Eric Staal scored the game-winner to help Minnesota eventually beat Vancouver 5-2 in a game that was closer than that until the final minute. Staal already has 37 goals this season.


It was quite a showing from goalies in losing efforts, and 35 came up on three occasions.

Ryan Miller made 35 saves for the Anaheim Ducks, including stopping all 32 of the Stars’ shots at even-strength. Dallas went 2-for-2 on the power play to beat Miller and the Ducks, however. Mike Condon stopped 35 of 37 shots on goal as well, including a chance that left Johnny Gaudreau shaking his head and muttering to himself.

Anders Nilsson didn’t have quite the same game as the others, including not making 35 saves. He did face 35 shots, however, stopping 31 of them. As you can see in that GIF in the section with Matt Cullen, some of those were high-difficulty shots, too.


Ryan Getzlaf couldn’t grind out a win or even a charity point for the Ducks, but he’s been outstanding lately. He scored a nice goal, giving him 12(!) points in his last five games and 50 in 44 contests this season. This actually broke a four-game multi-point streak.

Maybe the NHL should create an assist trophy? If so, would it be named after Adam Oates, Wayne Gretzky, or someone else?

Some numbers behind the widely-shared belief that the Blue Jackets have two dangerous scoring defensemen in Seth Jones and Zach Werenski:

Nice stat from that Min win:


Blue Jackets 3, Red Wings 2
Flames 2, Senators 1
Stars 2, Ducks 1
Wild 5, Canucks 2

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.