James O'Brien


Gather your lucky charms, 2016 NHL Draft Lottery is tonight


Honestly, it’s tough to blame people for making Edmonton Oilers jokes in regards to the 2016 NHL Draft Lottery.

Really it’s only human nature to drop one-liners about the perennial cellar-dweller that (seemingly) always lands the No. 1 pick.

Will it happen again this time around? We’ll find out soon enough, more precisely sometime around 8 p.m. ET on NBC.

As you can see, the Oilers do not have the best odds to land the top pick … but they’re close:

A reminder: this time around the lottery will determine the top three picks. The NHL discusses that tweak and other changes here:

For the first time, the 2016 NHL Draft Lottery will assign the top three slots in the first round of the NHL Draft – a change from prior years, when the Draft Lottery was used to determine the winner of the first overall selection exclusively.

Want the full lowdown on the 2016 NHL Draft Lottery? PHT has you covered here.

Here’s your Stanley Cup playoffs schedule for tonight

Stanley Cup
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The Stanley Cup playoffs continue with two games on Saturday. You can catch tonight’s games via the NBC Sports Group’s television and digital platforms.

NY Islanders at Tampa Bay (3:00 p.m. ET)

The TV broadcast of Game 2 will be on NBC. To stream the game using the NBC Sports Live Extra app, click here.

Pittsburgh at Washington (8:00 p.m. ET)

The TV broadcast of Game 2 will also be on NBC. To stream the game using the NBC Sports Live Extra app, click here.

Some reading to get you pumped up:

– The Penguins are keeping chatty Marc-Andre Fleury from speaking to the media (reportedly).

Tom Wilson received a fine, not a suspension, for that knee-to-knee hit.

T.J. Oshie was the difference-maker for Washington in Game 1.

– Don’t expect Steven Stamkos to face red-hot John Tavares anytime soon (or at all, maybe).

Read about the Isles’ Game 1 win.

Just for Men: Islanders innovators

FILE - In this May 24, 1980, file photo, New York Islanders captain Denis Potvin (5) reaches out to touch the Stanley Cup trophy as teammate Brian Trottier, right, looks on after the Islanders won the NHL's Stanley Cup championship by defeating the Philadelphia Flyers 5-4 in overtime in Game 6 at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y. A person familiar with the situation says the Islanders have struck a deal to move to Brooklyn's Barclays Center as early as 2015. The person was not authorized to discuss the situation prior to an afternoon announcement, Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012,  and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.  (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

Just this past weekend, the New York Islanders did something they hadn’t accomplished in 23 years; they won a playoff series.

You’d think that the franchise’s mark hasn’t been made on the postseason for some time because of that. Instead, the influence of their ’80s dynasty era can be felt if you rub against the hairy faces of most players deep in this race for the Stanley Cup.

We’re talking, of course, about the playoff beard.

Yes, the team that won four consecutive Stanley Cups also began the tradition that inspires many to put down their razors and possibly upset their spouses for all these years.

And, really, the old story about the Wayne Gretzky-era Edmonton Oilers stumbling upon the beat-up Islanders after the Isles’ championship victory fits the playoff beard mentality perfectly (via NHL.com):

Years later, several Oilers stars saw the defeat as a necessary learning experience. In fact, Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier both admitted they were impacted by walking past the Islanders dressing room after Game 4 to see the four-time defending champs sitting with ice bags, rather than engaging in a wild championship celebration. In their minds, they were made aware that more sacrifice would be needed to climb the final rungs to a title.

Just a bunch of tired, bearded champions who gave their all to keep what was theirs … teaching those youngsters how it’s done.

If that’s not the essence of all that is Playoff Beard, then what is?

Boudreau says this was the Ducks’ toughest loss yet


The Anaheim Ducks fought their way to a division title during the same season in which people were calling for Bruce Boudreau’s head.

The Nashville Predators won the first two games of this series in Anaheim, yet the Ducks didn’t dissolve. Instead, they won three straight games to take a 3-2 series lead.

Anaheim could have gone into the fetal position when the Ducks went down 2-0 in the first period in Game 7; instead, they forced a frantic push in an attempt to tie things up.

One viewpoint is to say that the Ducks went down fighting … but none of it really matters to plenty of other people after they fell 2-1 in Game 7.

To many, the Ducks “choked” again. They blew another Game 7 at home and fell short after fostering Stanley Cup expectations.

And the Ducks admit that this might have been the deepest cut of them all.

It likely doesn’t make it any better that they got oh-so-close to winning.

However the Ducks handle the questions about Bruce Boudreau’s future, this is a letdown that will sting for a long time.

Ultimately, the Ducks failed to close out the Predators with two chances, bringing back bad memories of their 2015 series loss to the Chicago Blackhawks … and far too many other bitter pills they’ve had to swallow.

Is this the end of an era? Maybe, maybe not … but this rendition of the Ducks likely never felt lower to end a season.

Full schedule for second round of 2016 Stanley Cup playoffs


The second round began with the New York Islanders’ 5-3 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning, but now we know the full picture.

The Nashville Predators beat the Anaheim Ducks 2-1 in a skin-tight Game 7, so they’ll take on the San Jose Sharks in round two. Check out the schedule for the four series, including TV listings that have been determined:

All times ET, subject to change


Tampa Bay Lightning (A2) vs. New York Islanders (WC1)

Wed 4/27, 7pm: NYI @ TBL | NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports

Sat 4/30, 3pm: NYI @ TBL | NBC, TVA Sports

Tue 5/3, 7pm: TBL @ NYI | NBCSN, TVA Sports

Fri 5/6, 7pm: TBL @ NYI | NBCSN, TVA Sports

*Sun 5/8, TBD:  NYI @ TBL | TBD

*Tue 5/10, TBD:  TBL @ NYI | TBD

*Thu 5/12, TBD:  NYI @ TBL | TBD

Washington Capitals (M1) vs. Pittsburgh Penguins (M2)

Thu 4/28, 8pm: PIT @ WSH | NBCSN, TVA Sports

Sat 4/30, 8pm: PIT @ WSH | NBC, TVA Sports

Mon 5/2, 8pm: WSH @ PIT | NBCSN, TVA Sports

Wed 5/4, 8pm: WSH @ PIT | NBCSN, TVA Sports

*Sat 5/7, TBD:  PIT @ WSH | TBD

*Tue 5/10, TBD:  WSH @ PIT | TBD

*Thu 5/12, TBD:  PIT @ WSH | TBD


Dallas Stars (C1) vs. St. Louis Blues (C2)

Fri 4/29, 8pm: STL @ DAL | NBCSN, TVA Sports

Sun 5/1, 3pm: STL @ DAL | NBC, TVA Sports

Tue 5/3, 8pm: DAL @ STL | USA, TVA Sports

Thu 5/5, 8pm: DAL @ STL | NBCSN, TVA Sports

*Sat 5/7, TBD:  STL @ DAL | TBD

*Mon 5/9, TBD:  DAL @ STL | TBD

*Wed 5/11, TBD:  STL @ DAL | TBD

San Jose Sharks (P3) vs. Nashville Predators (WC1)

Fri 4/29, 10:30pm: NSH @ SJS | NBCSN, TVA Sports

Sun 5/1, 8pm: NSH @ SJS | NBCSN, TVA Sports

Tue 5/3, 9pm: SJS @ NSH | USA, TVA Sports

Thu 5/5, 9pm: SJS @ NSH | CNBC, TVA Sports

*Sat 5/7, TBD:  NSH @ SJS | TBD

*Mon 5/9, TBD:  SJS @ NSH | TBD

*Thu 5/12, TBD:  NSH @ SJS | TBD

*if necessary

Talk about some fresh faces, huh?