James O'Brien

I am a contributing editor/writer/troublemaker for NBC's Pro Hockey Talk blog.

That was Radulov: Canadiens tie series vs. Rangers in thriller

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Henrik Lundqvist was absolutely fantastic – again – in Game 2, but Alexander Radulov and the Montreal Canadiens just would not be denied.

After taking a few bad penalties, you would have expected Radulov to be in the doghouse. Claude Julien gave him a long enough leash on Friday to factor into the goal that sent Game 2 into overtime and then to score a hard-working OT-clincher to give the Canadiens a 4-3 overtime win.

With the latest game-tying goal in Canadiens franchise history and that big Radulov tally, the Habs have tied the Rangers 1-1 as the series shifts to Madison Square Garden.

Stream Rangers vs. Canadiens on NBC Sports

Lundqvist kept the Rangers in a game that was sometimes quite one-sided in Montreal’s favor.

Both Lundqvist and Carey Price made some tough stops in a hectic game, but Montreal’s 58-38 shots on goal edge tells much of the story; Lundqvist is rapidly silencing critics who noticed that he had an up-and-down regular season.

This was a thrilling, physical affair with the teams combining for 129 hits. (Check this post for one of the most violent moments of the contest.)

The Rangers go home splitting those first two contests, at least something of a victory, but Montreal avoided a disastrous start. We could be in for quite a treat as these two teams trade blows and two all-world goalies thwart some brilliant chances.

And Radulov might make himself some serious cash in the process.

Penguins – Blue Jackets not nasty enough? Behold these ‘Sid the Kid’ masks

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Few, if any, hockey fans criticize Sidney Crosby‘s skills or effort. Plenty of people still have a problem with the Pittsburgh Penguins center’s passion, particularly when he straddles the line between feisty and dirty.

And, of course, there are plenty who can’t stand Crosby chirping at referees, even if it’s a pretty common practice among most players.

Crosby’s gotten pretty nasty with Brandon Dubinsky and other members of the Columbus Blue Jackets, and things have been quite chippy between the two teams in their opening games in Pittsburgh. The Columbus Dispatch is really feeding into the disdain (and Crosby’s “reputation”) with these “Sid the Kid masks.”

Stream Penguins vs. Blue Jackets on NBC Sports

You really just have to see them for yourself because … wow.

Update: the tweet has since been deleted, but Russian Machine Never Breaks has a screen grab of the mask.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen groups of fans go after Crosby, nor is this the only time a newspaper’s jumped into the fray. Remember the Chicago Tribune’s “Chrissy Pronger” debacle?

Even so, it’s bewildering anytime you see it. This isn’t a random Blue Jackets blog, mind you. It’s unlikely that this will make a bitter series any uglier – the two teams should provide the vitriol – but it’s still a surprising sight.

Especially if we see thousands in the stands during Game 3.

Ott causes chaos, Weber fights Miller as violence escalates for Rangers, Habs

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You can say a lot of things about the chaos that ensued between the Montreal Canadiens and New York Rangers during the second period of Game 2, but if there’s one consensus, it’s probably:

“Wait, how did the Canadiens get a power play out of that?”

The Rangers did indeed receive the extra minor penalty after an exchange that involved a big hit by hyper-pest Steve Ott, a semi-brawl with Shea Weber and J.T. Miller and … well, there was just a lot going on. Check out the carnage in the video above.

Stream Rangers vs. Canadiens on NBC Sports

And, again, onlookers were bewildered.

This game, which just suddenly went 3-2 for the Rangers, has been a thrill-a-minute. Unless you think that they’re rotating thrills with hits, hate and trash talk.

Either way, it’s awfully entertaining.

Video: Lundqvist hung out to dry as Canadiens finally score a goal

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Henrik Lundqvist managed to shut out the Montreal Canadiens in Game 1, but he could only do so much as the Habs had the New York Rangers on their heels to open Game 2.

The Canadiens kept applying pressure behind a raucous crowd until Jeff Petry finally broke through for Montreal’s first goal of this young series, and a 1-0 lead for the Habs.

Petry enjoyed far too much time to pick a spot against Lundqvist, yet that might not be the only reason that the star netminder seemed a little upset. Lundqvist’s stick broke during that sequence, and while there’s no full replacement for a goalie stick, no skater gave him a makeshift option in the moment.

Stream Rangers vs. Canadiens on NBC Sports

Considering those two factors and the early rush from Montreal, you can kind of understand why Hank was a little flustered.

It didn’t throw him off though, really, as Lundqvist robbed Paul Byron on a breakaway attempt later on in the opening frame. Not long after, Michael Grabner scored a beautiful breakaway goal on his try to make it 1-1. Byron eventually got his goal back later on in the first, allowing Montreal to go into the intermission with a 2-1 lead.

Here’s a GIF of the goal itself (video above), if that’s what you prefer:

Bruins swap backups by bringing in Subban, but Rask should be fine

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At the moment, the Boston Bruins recalling a goalie on an “emergency basis” isn’t anywhere near as bad as it sounds.

That’s how the move is labeled as the Bruins bring up Malcolm Subban and demote Zane McIntyre to the AHL on Friday, but the move could easily be just to get McIntyre some seasoning.

The Bruins face the Ottawa Senators on Saturday, and reporters such as NHL.com’s Amalie Benjamin indicate that this isn’t a bad sign for Tuukka Rask. It likely comes down to who will back up Rask’s backup.

Considering all of the bad injury news for the Bruins lately, this seems instead to be more of a paperwork move.

Stream Bruins vs. Senators on NBC Sports

In case you’re wondering about Subban’s development as the 24th pick of the 2012 NHL Draft, he’s been solid in the AHL … just not as impressive as McIntyre at that level.

Subban: 11-14-1 with a respectable .917 save percentage in 32 games with Providence; allowed one goal on 13 shots in an abbreviated NHL appearance.

McIntyre: .935 save percentage with 21-4-1 record in AHL; 0-4-1 with .858 save percentage in shaky NHL showings.

It’s promising that McIntyre’s been so solid with Providence, but judging by his struggles with the big club, the narrative that the Bruins are going “Rask or bust” still fits regardless of who suits up as the No. 2 for now.